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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Remove Child Before Folding

That is the title of a new book that came across my desk yesterday afternoon.

Actually, the full title is Remove Child Before Folding: The 101 Stupidest, Silliest, and Wackiest Warning Labels ever, by Bob Dorigo Jones.

And I'm not sure whether to laugh, cry, or get annoyed. I admit, the book is hilarious in a sad, sad way.

Among the warning labels Jones tracked down for the book are:
  • "The labels above the public toilets at the Wide World Sports Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., which read 'Recycled flush water, unsafe for drinking'."
  • "The instruction guide for a BernzOmatic propane torch," which warns "Never use when sleeping."
  • "The...label...on a bottle of Milky Way chocolate milk," which reads "Contains milk."
  • "A container of Sure underarm deodorant," which warns "Caution: Do not spray in eyes."
  • And the title warning from Century's TraveLite SPORT baby stroller, "Remove child before folding!"

Man, that's almost depressing. Have we all gotten that stupid?

Or are we so litigation-happy that manufacturers feel like they have do a little extra dumbing-down in order to protect themselves from the stupid few among us?

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25 Comments:

  • A little bit of both I am afraid. I blame it on the hot coffee/mickey dees thing. The scarey part is it isn't easy to get a company to spend money on anything. That said, how many people had to fold their kids up in the stroller before the company bigwigs decided spending the money adding that warning was worth the investment?

    By Blogger briliantdonkey, at 12:01 PM  

  • It's not that people are any dumber here than in, say, France. It's just that our tort laws are a bit more liberal than they are in, say, France.

    They think it's quite amusing!

    --This comment is not intended to provide any legal, medical or spiritual advice.

    By Blogger Matt, at 12:09 PM  

  • I think I saw a peanut butter jar once that stated that it was made in a factory that contains nuts...I don't know if they were thinking of the ingredients or the factory workers???

    By Blogger Claudia, at 12:39 PM  

  • It's definitely both James. People are stupid, just plain stupid. Remember the guy who sued McDonald's for burning himself with Coffee?

    By Blogger captain corky, at 1:25 PM  

  • Disturbing, all. People this dumb shouldn't be allowed to eat fresh food.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 1:51 PM  

  • I bought a bag of peanuts just because it says, "Contains Peanuts"

    I'm thinking about framing it and hanging it on my wall.

    By Blogger mist1, at 1:54 PM  

  • I think people really are getting dumber. I blame stuff like this.

    Our justice system should be structured to protect the gene pool. To this end I propose we remove all product warning labels and allow nature to take it's course.

    By Blogger QofD, at 2:24 PM  

  • James, it's not that we're stupid. After all, if we were so stupid to do some of these things in the first place, we wouldn't be reading the labels.

    It's all about the litigation. Unfortunately. CYA = cover your ass.

    By Blogger Dan, at 2:34 PM  

  • The science says that IQs are rising around the world and that we in the undustrialized world are 15-20 points higher than people were fifty or so years ago.

    But any rise in general intelligence has come at the expense of good old fashioned horse sense!

    (I am reminded of the curmedgeon who does the Quaker Oats and Liberty Life Insurance commercials.)

    it just seems like people used to by god get things done! and now we're a bunch of over-educated fools....

    I'm going to sue Volkswagon for failing to warn me about the perils of driving under the influence of alchol, by the way. Frickin' Germans.

    By Blogger Matt, at 2:36 PM  

  • All warning labels are a product of litigation. There would be no poison warnings on antifreeze or choking warnings on small toys if someone hadn't been sued and some court hadn't decided that liability could have been limited if a beacon call of danger had been sounded. Most warnings are relaly common sense, but sense ain't that common anymore, especially in our subtropical Tower of Babel where symbols will probably replace words as our common means of communication.
    I mean, I just recently bought a Ruger 9mm that contained the warning "Activating the firing mechanism (i.e. pulling the trigger) while this device is loaded with ammunition and pointed at a living being could result in serious injury or death" No effing duh.

    "Do not fold with child in seat" came about after someone really dim or exhausted tried to stow the stroller with the baby inside. The warning in the toilet (Recycled water) was probably intended to refer to the water coming from the faucet, but babies and dogs drink from the toilet regularly.

    What we really all need is at least one "Get Out of Shit Free" card to use during our adult lives. Foldin' money is the current GOOSF, but I suspect companies will find a way to get their legislators to write up something for the rest of us who don't have payoff cash at the ready. That way, we could all do at least one really stupid or negligent thing and not have it destroy or bankrupt us forever. Unfortunately, it would probably not cover mistakes of the marital variety.

    By Anonymous Big Daddy, at 2:57 PM  

  • adding to what matt said...in most of Europe, if you do something that lame-brained, people will blame you for being an idiot, not the manufacturer for not putting a warning label!!! LOL

    By Blogger Claudia, at 3:04 PM  

  • It's time for the corporations to actually hire people who have a command of the English language and not some tech writer.

    By Blogger Stewart Sternberg, at 3:11 PM  

  • It's maddening, isn't it? Litigation and the "blame everyone else b/c NOTHING IS MY FAULT" society we live in have contributed to this phenomenon.

    Seriously - there are people out there who would have no problem being stamped as an "idiot" for life, as long as they thought they could rip some company off for big bucks.

    No personal responsibility for our actions - that's the new motto, it seems.

    By Blogger Tiggerlane, at 5:18 PM  

  • What's next, you might ask?

    On a ball point pen: Warning: you might put someone's eye out.

    On a handmirror: Caution: Your face may freeze like this.

    On a pair of scissors: Do not run with these.

    On a pair of underwear: Ensure these are clean in case you get hit by a car.

    On a sign by a cliff: Do not follow your friends if they jump here.

    By Anonymous The Sarcasticynic, at 5:26 PM  

  • I'm sensing a real Libertarian streak in that Tigger.

    By Blogger Matt, at 6:03 PM  

  • lol freaking sue-happy peoples.

    hey burnett... i posted the accidental pyro story for ya. enjoy it. or fear it. whichever you prefer. :p

    By Blogger Yasamin, at 8:28 PM  

  • Our society is so D-U-M it hurts my heart.

    Thank you, James Burnett, for reminding me that people need to told how, EXACTLY, to open a jar of pickles: "Steady jar and, using force, turn the lid clockwise."

    Oh my dear Lord. See you all in Hell. I'll be the one with the unopened jar of pickles.

    By Anonymous 123Valerie, at 12:00 AM  

  • In Japan, on some of their garbage cans, it reads "Please Waste". Gotta luv it.

    By Blogger The Dummy, at 12:59 AM  

  • It's the "No win, no fee, we'll get you a packet (for your stupidity/irresponsibility)" lawyers which encourage it, James. Trouble is they're over here now too.

    For goodness sake, people, switch yr brains on & THINK!

    By Anonymous bronchitikat, at 4:57 AM  

  • I blame the judges in these dumb ass law suits. Common sense get lost when they don the robe?

    Coffee = hot = if you spill it in YOUR lap, it will burn = not McD's fault you drink that shit in your car.

    By Blogger Christina_the_wench, at 7:29 AM  

  • All of your responses point to a pressing need for everyone here to get picked for a jury the next time it's your turn--it's the six to twelve "peers" in the jury box that always give the big bucks, not a judge or the lawyer. Next time you get that notice in the mail, don't spend all your energy trying to get out of it--go to the courthouse, get picked for the jury and send a message to the person who sued by kicking their case out of the courthouse.

    Whose world is this? "It's yours". Whose country is this? Yours. Act like it and stop standing on the sidelines of public life. Either that or stop complaining.

    By Anonymous Big Daddy, at 10:09 AM  

  • screw that. i avoid jury duty like the plague.

    By Blogger Yasamin, at 10:17 AM  

  • All the litigation sucks. Lawsuits should be saved for when the plaintiff could have avoided the "danger."

    Yas, I read your firestarter post. I'm scared of you.

    Matt, I'm wondering about that science. I'm having a tough time believing we have bigger/better functioning brains today than say 20 years ago, 'cause somewhere along the way common sense was lost in translation.

    Mist1, you should frame that bag. It'll be worth something in the future. It could sit in a museum under the display "The Dumb Dumb Era."

    Claudia, I doubt it was the contents of the jar.

    Queen, I think the gene pool should be bleached and drained for a few years.

    Matt, that might make me sorta Libetarian too. I agree with Tigger.

    And BD, you are correct, I guess. We should do jury duty. It just bites. I won't advocate ducking it. But man I've been called three times to serve since I was like 20. Enough already.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 10:46 AM  

  • My favorite description of a product instruction was from the late Douglas Adams in Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy. His character Wacko the sane realized that the rest of the world was insane when he read the following instructions on a box of toothpicks:

    Hold stick near centre of its length. Moisten pointed end in mouth. Insert in tooth space, blunt end next to gum. Use gentle in-out motion.

    By Blogger Wavemancali, at 4:10 PM  

  • Wavemancali, that was funny. I had to read it a few times just to get how nutty it was.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 12:12 AM  

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