A Letter to the Makers of my Broken Can Opener

Dear good folks at Good Cook,

Yesterday at the store, I hesitated over a can of Wolfgang Puck’s organic/free range chicken noodle soup that was canned without the convenient pull-tab on top—the kind that advertises on the can itself, that one need not bother with a can opener. I hesitated because A) although a pull tab is much easier, it uses a little bit more material in the packaging and as I was in the health food store in my town, I was feeling slightly more conscientious, and B) did I really need a can of chicken noodle soup? Yes. I bought the tab-less can of soup and was very excited to eat it the next day. Today, I pulled out my Good Cook can opener and stuck it on the soup, right above Mr. Puck’s smiling face. As soon as I applied the correct amount of pressure to ensure the can opener would glide around the circumference of the can, revealing to me the delicious pre-cooked food I longed to enjoy, the handle snapped off in three pieces and cut the thin, tender part of my palm between my thumb and pointer finger. I was stunned at first, then, incredibly pissed.

Do you want to know what I do for a living? I work in a restaurant. Do you know what my job includes on a daily basis? Lemons. Have you ever punctured that oh-so-delicate area of your dominant hand and have to handle citrus fruits all day, and you can’t wear a bandage because it’s unsightly and unsanitary? It fucking sucks.

Do you know what else? That was my only can opener. I’m no fool. I bought one can opener last year when it became clear that I absolutely needed one in my apartment. I do not keep a spare can opener in my apartment, and I was really hoping one would last me longer than a year. When my Good Cook can opener disintegrated in my hands, like a poorly made pastry gone stale overnight, I was lost in a world where I had become trapped by my individual consumer choices. I began to question, as the wound on my hand continued to smart, why had I purchased the tab-less can in the first place? Why had I put my every ounce of trust in having lunch one afternoon into an object that felt no relation to the condition of human struggle? Why, in the greater scheme of my life, had I not just made my own soup from my own ingredients and avoided the problem entirely? This quandary left me feeling disappointed on a small scale, and dismayed and rejected by consumer culture on a very large scale. There I stood, between the unbroken lid of the can and the suddenly non-functional tool that wielded the only power I possessed to traverse the physical boundaries that stood between me and a good, healthy lunch.

I will spare you the gruesome details of how I finally got the can open. Have you ever seen “127 Hours”? It was kinda like that. If there is an astral plane for post-inanimate objects that have undergone severe earthly trauma, that’s where my can would be.

I am not writing this letter out of anger (I worked through all the stages of grief for my fallen kitchen gadget), but as a voice for all the unfortunate consequences of shoddy and negligent manufacturing. I assume you did not plan for this object obsolescence, being somewhat naïve to the functions of the can-opener-making industry, but nevertheless, I want my money back. I gave my can opener the best life it could ask for. I never dropped it, soaked it, or threw it across the room. I let it open all kinds of cans and experience foods from all over the world, I even used the bottle opener and lever attached to the head! This can opener got the most out of life, and to have been taken so suddenly from a good home and loving canned-food lover is simply tragic.

Please regard this message with the respect my can opener deserved, and send a check with the amount of $19.89 made out to Annie Raab. In the memo, you can write “Refund, plus emotional damage”. I would highly appreciate your empathy and cooperation, as it will be some time before I am ready to purchase a new can opener.

Thank you,

Annie Raab


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