- Special Sections
- Public Notices
We got new cell phones the other day.
The first thing we did was read the user’s manual, which started right out with three pages of warnings. “Never use an unapproved battery.” Okay, that’s reasonable. “Do not disassemble the phone.” Well, I hadn’t planned on doing that, so it looks like we’re doing fine so far. “Never place your phone in a microwave oven.” Well, I sure am glad they warned me about that. But the manual didn’t say anything about putting the phone in a washing machine. Maybe I should have used the delicate cycle?
Ever notice the warning label on the folding sun shield for your car? “Do not drive with sun shield in place.” Batteries in microwave ovens? Driving with the windshield covered? Try to imagine the people for whom these warnings are necessary. And then consider the fact that they vote. Scary, eh?
A bottle of dog shampoo comes with the warning, “The contents of this bottle should not be fed to fish.” The label on a hair dryer warns, “Do not use while sleeping.” The toner for a printer warns, “Do not eat toner.” What a shame, eh? It goes so well with Cajun shrimp.
Seriously, does the American public need to be told not to use silly putty as ear plugs?
Do we really need warning labels, “Do not use orally,” on our toilet bowl cleaning brushes? For what possible reason does a cigarette lighter need to warn “Do not light in face”?
Candies and fruit wraps warn, “Remove plastic before eating.” Yes, it is true that some people will put TV dinners into the oven without removing the dinner from the cardboard box if not explicitly told to remove it first.
Maybe we should have warnings on our ovens that say, “Do not turn on broiler and stick head in oven for any extended period of time.”
The joke about warning labels used to be the familiar, “Warning! Do not remove this tag!” seen on mattresses. Today, no one’s laughing. It wouldn’t surprise me if those labels now say, “Warning! Do not eat this tag!”
A chainsaw file used for sharpening the cutting teeth of a chainsaw comes with the warning, “Turn chainsaw off before using this product.” When you read these warnings, it’s hard to believe that anyone out there could actually be that stupid. But sadly, they are out there.
A lawn mower manual warns, “Do not use this lawn mower as a hedge trimmer.” Well, that warning is there because someone once did that. Of course, he cut off all his fingers. And if that’s not stupid enough, he sued the lawn mower company for not having a warning – and won!
Is there a theoretical limit on stupidity? Apparently, as long as there are juries, the answer is “no.”
For those allergic to nuts, a jar of peanut butter says, “Warning: Product may contain nuts.” Hmmm – “may” contain, eh? A Superman costume comes with the warning, “Wearing this costume does not enable you to fly.”
One steam iron actually warned, “Do not iron clothes while wearing them.” Why are we working so hard to protect stupid people from themselves? What ever happened to natural selection?
A self-defense can of pepper spray warns, “May irritate eyes.” Zoos have warning signs telling people to stay out of the crocodile pools and gorilla cages.
If not warned, how would you possibly know not to play pattycake with the lions? Sometimes I think the iron bars are there to protect the animals from all those stupid people!
Where will it end? Kitchen utensils coming with labels warning you not to use spoons to scoop out your eyeballs? Nails being sold with the warning that pounding one into your forehead isn’t safe? Exactly where should we draw the line between reasonable caution and outright stupidity?
Yes, yes, I know. It costs so little to write a cautionary statement, so why argue it?
What’s the big deal about a few silly warnings? Why get upset that a bottle of glue has to warn us not to use it as an eyewash? What’s the harm in warning people not to gargle with dish detergent?
I suppose my frustration is simply that expectations of common sense and intelligence seem to get lower each year. How did this country ever manage to survive so long without warning people not to use table saws to trim their fingernails?
Perhaps newspaper columns should come with a warning, “Reading this column could make you think.
For 24 hours after reading, do not drive a car, work with sharp objects or vote.”