You know the excitement of picking out a fresh full bottle of hand soap from the grocery bag? You trot in joy as you proceed to place it next to your sink and gently twist the pump dispenser cap, following the arrows so the tightly secured lid shoots up, allowing an even amount of germ-killing goodness to plop into your palms. The arrows on the lid top clearly point clockwise, so you patiently twist in that direction, listening to the creak of plastic lid as it rotates continuously. You grow slightly impatient because the dispenser is clearly not unwinding, and the twisting feels like it’s only tightening up the grip on the lid when it should clearly be loosening up. You stop for a second and re-evaluate the arrows on the dispenser to make sure your twisting it in the right direction, but then you throw all common sense out the window and decide to twist it in the opposite direction. Maybe it’s a design error, I’ll twist it anti-clockwise and it’s sure to loosen up and release the pump dispenser.
It’s been a good minute now and twisting it in the opposite direction is clearly not yielding any promising results; now the pump dispenser seems so tightly locked that the plastic creaks furiously with every forceful twist. Now you’re feeling slightly agitated, your jaw clenches and you bang the soap bottle on the counter as a force of habit. Maybe if I bang the bottle on the floor like I do with the jam jar lid, it’ll loosen up? No no, that obviously makes no sense, different lid, different design. I’ll give it a clockwise twist one more time.
You’re slightly excited now because the dispenser seems to loosen up after the damage you did earlier. You can feel the lid unwinding finally, the pump dispenser is bound to shoot up any second now. But boy were you wrong. The twisting does no good and the dispenser just rests uselessly on the top of the bottle. You’ve had enough and your hands are now shaking from the mental frustration of unwinding a plastic lid. You exhale loudly through your nostrils and unscrew the entire bottle lid, pulling out the entire dispenser from the bottle and watch as the soap drops plop on your counter from the end of the dispenser pipe. Ugh, what a waste. You now have to unscrew the entire lid every time you want to wash your hands, pour soap into your palm from a wide opening in the bottle, as an uneven amount of precious germ-killing goodness plops into your palms. That’s too much soap for a single wash! Your mind goes numb every time you need to wash your hands, calculating whether the amount of soap in the bottle is enough to get you through until your next grocery delivery is due.
That’s exactly what this year has felt like. And for all intents and purposes, I will now only be using soap bars.
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Aleya is a civil engineer and artist from the city of Abu Dhabi, currently based in Australia.
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