[Originally published in 2008]

Here’s my story.

by Naomi Dunford

I like red wine. A lot. I also live in Ontario, which is convenient because we make a lot of wine here. It’s handy. Nowadays, with the whole “the environment is really important and stuff” kick that’s been going on, wine makers have been packaging their products in Tetrapaks. Tetrapaks, more commonly referred to as juice boxes. Big-ass, grown-up, boozy juice boxes. Yeah, baby. I have tasted their Tetrapak offerings and found them worthy.

Anyway, we’re in the liquor store about a week ago and I’m trying to decide what to get. My husband suggests we get a box of wine.

Let me press hold on this story and let you know that while I will happily drink wine from a Tetrapak, I draw the line at boxes. Yes, a Tetrapak is technically a box, but we'll file that one under “spirit of the law vs. letter of the law”. My mother used to buy white wine in a box and store it on top of the fridge. Room temperature. I drank it one time. Not cool.

So I look at him like he’s insane and he says it’s the same wine we always buy and it’s way cheaper than buying by the bottle, plus we won’t have to go back to the store later. Well, I’m nothing if not cheap and lazy, so a box of wine it is.

Flash forward a few days.

We’d drunk the wine. It was lovely. Completely without incident. Husband's on his way out and he asks if we need more wine. I don’t know how much is left and because I’m cheap I’m going to check before dropping another forty bucks.

Have you ever tried to see how much wine is left in a box?

The thing about cardboard is that it's not clear like glass. It's pretty opaque, actually. Nobody but Superman can look at a box of wine and know how much is in it. Shaking the box doesn’t work either because the wine is stored in a kind of sealed bag so you can’t hear the swishing.

Let me tell you, I am nothing if not resourceful. (Also cheap and lazy.) There’s no damn way any more wine is entering this house until I’m absolutely certain the wine that’s already here is done. I notice that the hole in the top of the box that acts as a handle is about the size of my hand. I figure I’ll just stick my hand in to see how far down the wine went.

You know where this is going.

My son Jack is in the stroller. Husband has his coat on. I’m standing in the hallway with my hand wedged in a box of wine… and I can’t get it out.

I struggle. For a while. Jack starts to whimper. I struggle some more. Perhaps I say some choice words.

Eventually, the baby is screaming for milk which I cannot get him because I only have ONE FREAKING HAND. My husband has stopped breathing he’s laughing so hard. And I am quickly coming to the cold realization that my hand is not coming out of that box.

Have you ever tried to cut your hand out of a box of wine before? They use really thick cardboard, the kind you can’t cut through with regular scissors. You need something serious to cut one of these boxes. Like a box cutter. You know, those things the terrorists use to kill people on airplanes? And my hand just happens to be so far in the box that the blade would hit… right around the veins in my wrist.

The actual story of getting the box off my hand isn’t very funny so I won’t give you details. (If you ever find yourself in this situation, consider a bread knife. That’s all I’m saying.) Just do me a favor and try to imagine what it feels like knowing you may actually have to take your 14-month-old to the emergency room with you while you have your hand removed from a box of wine. Imagine that for a sec.

“So what the hell are you getting at?” you ask.

There are many morals to this story.

Don’t be cheap comes to mind.

Don’t be lazy, maybe. (Don’t be greedy works too.)

These are true and wise but they’re not what you’re here for. I’ve chosen a different — and completely topically relevant — moral.

Moral of the Story: Marketing Begins In Product Development.

When you are building your product, think about the stupidest person you’ve ever met. That person is your customer. Think about what problems they could have with your product.

When you are a wine producer, you want your customers to be well aware of how much wine they have on hand at all times. (Please pardon the pun.) You do not want them at home, trying to bust a move on their wife, setting up candles and massage oils and doing whatever people without kids do, just to find out they’re out of wine.

Create your product with all people in mind, even the stupid ones.

(Update: Since I know you’re wondering… yes, when I finally got my hand out, I did just throw the offending box into recycling. And yes, I later realized you shouldn’t recycle cardboard and plastic in the same bin. And yes, when I separated them and realized there was still wine left in the bag? I totally drank it. See: Cheap and Lazy, above.)


(Find me on my new blog, xxNaomi.com!)