Warn­ing: Con­tent could lead to laugh­ter

The Citizen-Record (Cumberland) - - CUMBERLAND COUNTY - Rus­sell Wanger­sky East­ern Pas­sages Rus­sell Wanger­sky’s col­umn ap­pears in 30 SaltWire news­pa­pers and web­sites in At­lantic Canada. He can be reached at rwanger@thetele­gram.com; Twit­ter: @wanger­sky.

The mes­sage is stark, and in red and all-caps on the Keurig cof­fee ma­chine at work: “CAU­TION SHARP NEE­DLES DO NOT PUT FIN­GERS IN K-CUP CHAM­BER.”

If that’s not enough, an­other warn­ing curves around the base of the place where you put your cof­fee pod, etched right into the black plas­tic: “CAU­TION – SHARP NEE­DLES.”

Why is it that peo­ple – OK, peo­ple like me – sud­denly want to put a fin­ger in­side to see how sharp the nee­dles ac­tu­ally are?

As a rule, I don’t like nee­dles or bleed­ing. In fact, you can put me down as be­ing pos­i­tively op­posed to nee­dles and bleed­ing.

But I guess I’m in­trigued by warn­ings.

I ask this be­cause of the pres­sure washer.

I had to buy a new pres­sure washer af­ter I broke the old one. Ac­tu­ally, win­ter broke the old one, be­cause I left it in the garage with some wa­ter in­side, and sci­ence says that as wa­ter cools, it shrinks, un­til around 4 de­grees Cel­sius, when it ac­tu­ally starts to ex­pand. At the freez­ing point, the wa­ter ex­pands by a magic nine per cent – just enough to burst some in­te­gral part of pres­sure wash­ers, thereby keep­ing the pres­sure washer in­dus­try alive and well.

There was a warn­ing about that on the old pres­sure washer: it ac­tu­ally said “AVOID FROST,” which I al­ways do to the best of my abil­ity, but ap­par­ently not suc­cess­fully in this case, es­pe­cially hav­ing not read the warn­ing un­til af­ter the pres­sure washer broke. (I could fix the old pres­sure washer, but not without buy­ing a special screw­driver to open the case, or­der­ing the re­place­ment part from far away, etc. A new pres­sure washer, on special, was only a few dol­lars more, and avail­able right away. But I di­gress.)

So, the Keurig and the pres­sure washer.

The new pres­sure washer does not say “AVOID FROST.” In­stead, it goes with the less con­fronta­tional “STORE IN­SIDE.”

But that’s only the be­gin­ning. When I took it out of the box, the new de­vice was prac­ti­cally fes­tooned with warn­ings. They were at­tached to the ma­chine with stick­ers, with zip-straps, with tape.

“WARN­ING: Risk of in­jec­tion or in­jury – Do not di­rect dis­charge stream at per­sons.”

I have seen pres­sure wash­ers strip paint – I don’t even want to imag­ine what high-pres­sure “in­jec­tion” must look like.

“To re­duce the risk of in­jury or death, user must read and un­der­stand op­er­a­tor’s man­ual.”

“Do not op­er­ate the prod­uct while un­der the in­flu­ence of drugs, al­co­hol or any med­i­ca­tion.” (I didn’t know that drunk strip­ping was a thing – at least, not that kind of drunk strip­ping.)

“Stay alert and ex­er­cise con­trol. Watch what you are do­ing and use com­mon sense. Do not op­er­ate prod­uct when you are tired. Do not rush.” They clearly do not know me.

And the list goes on.

Now, I un­der­stand that com­pa­nies in the mod­ern world have to tick off the great­est num­ber of pos­si­ble li­a­bil­ity is­sues.

But warn­ing me that elec­tric­ity and wa­ter don’t mix? That un­sta­ble lad­ders are dan­ger­ous? That chil­dren shouldn’t play with a ma­chine that de­liv­ers wa­ter at a noz­zle pres­sure of 1,600 pounds per square inch? (Sci­ence also says 1,600 psi is the pres­sure ex­erted by a stiletto heel worn by a 100pound woman, and you wouldn’t let her stand on one foot on your chil­dren, ei­ther.)

That does seem like overkill. And “Do not abuse ex­ten­sion cord”? “Warm air from the mo­tor could cause dis­coloured spots on grass”?

Imag­i­na­tion is a dan­ger­ous thing, and ev­ery threat is also an op­por­tu­nity.

And the Keurig nee­dles? There are two, one on the top, one on the bot­tom. When you close the cham­ber, they punc­ture their way into the cof­fee pods.

Oh, and I checked – they’re not re­ally all that sharp.

Nei­ther, ap­par­ently, am I.

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