If you're on a Mac and you've got to deal with docx files, EightySevenFour has a great tutorial up on how to recover the text from the file.
Yes, it's more than a bit of a hack--it involves unzipping the file and stripping the text from it--but it may save your butt until a better solution comes along.
I personally haven't had the opportuntity to play with docx, but I strongly suspect that TextEdit may be able to handle the XML better than you might first think.
Do you have some DocX files around. Want to help out? Send one over to our Tips form so I can try to hack away at it myself. Thanks!