Warning: You’re an Idiot

And just so we don’t forget, manufacturers stick bright orange labels on their products to protect us from ourselves.  Because in their absence, who knows what we’d do after microwaving that frozen broccoli and ham Stromboli TV dinner?  Without the CAUTION: Filling may be hot sticker, that possibility may not cross our minds.  After all, there are many other reasons we might place it in the stove.

But we know the real threat of frozen meals isn’t burning our tongue.  My goodness, what would happen if we actually ate one?  The manufacture doesn’t use that label because it would read more like a pharmaceutical commercial:

Warning:  Eating this imitation food product may result in hot lava shooting out your bum, accompanied by an insatiable craving for another, and longings for assisted suicide.  Other side effects may include derelict household appliances filling your porch, the use of tires as lawn ornaments, and in more cases that we’d like to admit, agonizing death.

The scary thought is for every label, some unfortunate consumer had to hurt themselves in the manner described.  The famous McDonalds’ hot coffee incident, for example.  Listen, I can barely text, check my email, and follow the GPS without being distracted by other cars on the road.  Serve a cup of coffee in the equation and I’d burn myself too.

Recently I was assembling white melamine bookshelves for our closet.  I slipped in a board and noticed a bright orange Warning!  Do not remove this label.  Well, my quality standards for furniture behind a closed door aren’t high, but not even I would leave a sticker that looked like it should be hung on a fence encircling a nuclear waste dump.  Curious, I read on.  Serious or fatal crushing injuries can occur from…

Sweat beaded my cheeks.  I felt as an infantryman who’d haplessly strolled into a minefield.  I had no idea a fifteen pound bookshelf could be so dangerous.  Could I retrace my steps?  Disassemble it?  Or would that irritate the warning label spirits?  And who was the poor soul that blazed this trail, crushed fatally by flimsy made-in-China particle board furniture?

…Or maybe no one was injured by the skull-crushing bookshelves of death.  Maybe think tanks come up with these things.

“We need a warning label to put on our product.”

“Why?”

“Our lawyer.  He said it didn’t really matter what it states, just so long as it’s condescending.  Then he babbled some nonsense about civic duty.”

“What do you sell?”

“Stuffed animals.”

“Oh my!  Our research shows more children get hurt each year on those than frozen Stromboli.  We can help.”

So, months of tank thinking, delayed delivery schedules, and cost overruns produces a yellow sticker with hands around a child’s neck, as if how-to instructions.  But upon further reading (which they don’t believe we’ll do, because we’re idiots), we’d discover it’s a warning that children can choke on the stuffing inside the animals.  As a parent myself, toddlers will choke on oxygen if given the chance.

How, then, are truly dangerous items devoid of any statement of caution?  Stroll through a sporting-goods store and I challenge you to find even one.  You can walk right out with a baseball bat and there isn’t a single sticker on it showing what could happen if you smacked a lawyer on the head with it.  My goodness, the ethical IQ of the nation might increase.  Or what about knives?  A ten piece set of such instruments from Walmart doesn’t even merit a Warning:  Sharp Object. 

My family enjoys peanut butter.  We buy it by the gross from Sam’s Club.  Residents not even allergic have gone into anaphylactic shock while driving past our house.  Once, looking at other brands, I noticed this directly below the Peanut Butter label:

Warning: Contains Peanuts.

Really?  And this could be confusing, how?  I can only imagine the lively discussion around the manufacturer’s boardroom that day.  What lawyer had been so convincing to press the need for stating the obvious?

Which is why, in this humble author’s opinion, lawyers are to blame for every evil in the universe, including the crucifixion of Christ, 9/11, frozen Stromboli, and hurricane Katrina.  But that is for another post…


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