Where there’s a warning label, there’s need for a warning label
Harry Leggs discusses a shopping venture with his wife, Venous.
Harry: Hi, Honey. I did something really different today. I read the warning labels on all the products I saw.
Venous: Why would you do that? Nobody ever reads those things.
H: They’re really interesting. Take the carnations I got you at the Big Box. The sticker says: “WARNING: Not for human consumption.” Ha, ha!
V: What’s so funny about that? Don’t you know we’re in tough times? Someone might be starving and try to make stew out of them.
H: Oh, well: How about this one on a box of sleeping pills? “May cause drowsiness.” I hope so. That’s what it’s supposed to do, right?
V: Someone who can’t read might think it’s aspirin, drive and accidentally hit a speeding train.
H: Hummm. Never thought of that one. Well, check this one out on the windshield shade I bought you for the summer: “WARNING: Do not drive with sun shade in place.” If someone’s that dumb, what are they doing with a drivers’ license in the first place?
V: You’re being awfully cynical, Harry. What if they are visually impaired and don’t realize the shade is in place?
H: OK, how about this one? It’s on a hand-held iron: “Do not iron clothes on body.” Can you imagine anyone being so stupid?
V: I’ve done that on occasion. Are you saying I’m stupid?
H: Did you burn yourself ?
V: Well, yes, but it was worth it. I couldn’t go to the women’s tea affair with a wrinkle in my dress could I?
H: Here’s one I’ll bet even you will find silly: “WARNING: Do not use toilet brush for personal hygiene.”
V: How else am I supposed to scrub my back? I can’t get you to do it.
H: I noticed this one while getting gas for the mower at the Big Box: “Warning: Do not light a match to check gas can level.” Ha, Ha! That’s a good one!
V: I saw Dr. Fuego do it years ago with his old Volkswagen. What was he supposed to do? He didn’t have a flashlight. There were no gas gauges on VW Bugs prior to 1962.
H: Where is he now?
V: Here, there and I think a piece of him is way over there. I don’t know why you find cautionary labels so amusing. They are put on products by responsible corporations to make society safe for ourselves, our children and our communities.
H: I think it’s a different reason. There are about 280,000 living members of the State Bar of California. I believe companies are being as cautious as possible trying to avoid any chance of frivolous litigation. It’s getting absurd!
V: Oh, really? Just be glad you live in a society that cares about the safety and welfare of everyone. And by the way, I think it’s time you start wearing your seatbelt when moving the car out of the garage and onto the driveway.
H: But it’s the one place in this country where I still feel like the nanny state is not looking over my shoulder. I have a little contest with myself to see if I can get the car out of the garage before the seatbelt warning chime goes off!
V: Oh, grow up! You and your friends are why we need warning labels in the first place!
(Later, Harry and Venous head out for groceries.)
V: You need to put your belt on. You’re going to get a ticket. Also, that incessant chiming is driving me nuts!
H: OK, soon as we get to the store. (Red and blue lights appear in the rearview mirror.)
H: Oh, $#%&!! It’s a cop! Good morning officer. Lovely day, isn’t it?
Cop: Do you know why I stopped you? Wait, let me spare you the lie. I could hear that seatbelt chimer from 20 feet away.
H: Officer, I understand the possible consequences of my actions, and I am willing to assume FULL responsibility. However, I noticed YOU were not wearing a seatbelt on your motorcycle. Now I ask — with all due respect: Who is more at risk here? I in my 5,800-pound SUV or you sitting on that puny little twowheeled 600-pound German bike?
C: You have a point, sir. I never thought of it in that way before. OK, you can go.
V: You know something, Harry (responding to his Cheshire grin)? I really hate you!
Warning: Always wear a seatbelt. Steve Hansen is a Lodi writer and satirist. Contact him at email@example.com.