Source: Sams Teach Yourself Networking in 24 Hours, 4th Edition by Uyless Black (2009)


If you're opening the case and the top doesn't come off easily, don't force it. Forcing a computer case may damage the box and its contents. Granted, the plastic envelopes that encase computer components (and other modern electronic products) challenge the most avid box shredder. Nonetheless, force will merely strengthen the case against you... so to speak.

I pondered what that might mean for a while and finally gave up. Any idea as to what exactly the author means by plastic envelops and avid box shredder? What does all that have to do with shredding cases made of plastic? I don't understand the joke.

  • What does your dictionary tell you about the adjective avid? – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Oct 27 '16 at 23:25
  • Not sure what you mean, but the word "avid" is definitely not used when describing things. You use it only to talk about people. – Michael Rybkin Oct 28 '16 at 0:42
  • In your citation, box shredder does refer to a person: "the most avid person who shreds boxes." cf. "milk drinker", "dog walker", "meat eater". – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Oct 28 '16 at 0:46
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    "...the plastic envelopes that encase computer components ... challenge the most avid box shredder" means "plastic blister packs are difficult to open even for a person who is good at opening packages." But there really isn't supposed to be a "joke" there. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Oct 28 '16 at 1:40
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    It means that the writer's boredom caught up with him when he came to penning that part of his text and he was, understandably, looking for an amusing diversion. It's meagre fare for such drudgery, but needs must, as they say. I've done worse. – Mick Oct 28 '16 at 2:14

One reason it might be confusing is that the author is trying to be funny by calling it an avid box-shredder. "Avid" is more frequently a term used with humans, meaning "keen interest" or "enthusiasm".

He is an avid student of English

When you apply avid to an inanimate object it becomes a metaphor, so we can imagine this shredder eagerly chewing up everything it can -- but choking on the tough plastic packaging that computer components come in.

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