Rubber Bands, An Inelastic Purchase?

by Kevin Burton

   It hurt my heart to do it, but I did it, last week. Something I thought I would never do.

   Along with the eggs and bacon and paper plates, and the baking stuff my wife Jeannette got, I also, purchased, rubber bands.

   Still can’t believe it. But there it is in print.

   I mean rubber bands are everywhere, right? Normally you can’t escape rubber bands no matter how hard you try. 

   See also: hangers, plastic shopping bags, paper clips, twist ties.

  These are the things in your household, that when you go to sleep, noiselessly multiply. You have to fight, hard, to keep these things from taking over your living space.

   You say there is no science behind what I just said? OK, you explain to me how you can put ten hangers in a closet, go on about your life, then check back in a month and find 36 of them, twisted and tangled in such a way that it takes you five minutes to extract just one of them. 

   Rubber bands aren’t as problematic as hangers, but they are equally ubiquitous. They’re a kind of indoor kudzu. Who (else) do you know who actually bought rubber bands.

   So embarrassing.

   When I was growing up my father had the Dayton Daily News delivered to our house. If it was rainy, the paper came in a plastic bag. Most days though, it came rolled up, with a rubber band around it.  Right there that’s five rubber bands a week, minimum.

   There was always a drawer of miscellany at our house and it contained God knows how many rubber bands. Can’t think right off hand where they came from other than the paper, but I never remember not having enough of them.

   It turns out rubber bands are finite.

   My Bible memory verses are printed on index cards and wrapped in rubber bands, eleven verses to a set. Three of those rubber bands broke last week. That is a lot for one week. 

   My late cat Mex, my all-time favorite feline friend and alter-ego, used to chew rubber bands like chewing gum. She would chew on them until she gagged and almost puked.

   Once I figured out what she was doing, I began putting all rubber bands in a box that used to contain Christmas cards, so she couldn’t get them.

   My new cats don’t chew rubber bands but I still keep them in a box. I mean, I keep the rubber bands in a box, not the cats.  Well after I broke three rubber bands last week, I was down to one.

   It was either wait for the rubber band ferry to show up, or make a purchase.

   The store I went to had one shelf slot for rubber bands. At least I wasn’t going to be paralyzed by too many choices.  The bag has four ounces or rubber bands, various sizes, same color (dark tan/brown), made in Thailand, sold by Officemate.

   Here are some facts I got from a Bing search about rubber bands:

  • Rubber bands are made by heating a mixture of rubber, sulfur, and other chemicals into strips. The strips are extended into tubes, cured, and then cut into bands.
  • The largest consumer of rubber bands is the United States Postal Service. They use rubber bands to organize and sort mail.
  • Rubber bands were first patented in England by London industrialist Stephen Perry on March 7, 1845.
  • They are used to suspend hard drives in a computer case. Suspending hard drives helps in avoiding contact between the hard drives and the computer case.
  • They are often used in orthodontics.
  • They can also serve the purpose of an eraser by simply wrapping a rubber band tightly around the end of a pencil.
  • They are used during aerobic exercising as fitness tools.

   These things are all well and good. At my place rubber bands are for baseball cards (yes, I still have them), and for separating the packets of spicy taco seasoning (mine) from the packets of mild taco seasoning (Jeannette’s).

   I could have waited and gone to a crafts store and bought rubber bands. I could have at least gotten different colors.  But those people would probably laugh at me for buying them. The artsy-crafty people probably know how to make their own rubber bands, without even having any sulfur on hand. 

  Whatever.  I’m still a little touchy on the subject, as you can see. 

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