9.11.2008

You've been warned

Reading warning labels can be hazardous to your mental health.

We're surrounded by warnings these days. Consumer product labels and owner's manuals contain paragraphs of fine-print legalese, alerting us to potential danger.

Corporations try to anticipate all hazards, including any that might be dreamed up by especially creative idiots. Thus, we get electric hair dryers with labels warning against using them in the shower, and Styrofoam cups that warn, "This coffee is HOT!!!"

These warnings have become so prevalent and bizarre that a group called Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch, or M-LAW, hosts an annual Wacky Warning Label Contest. One recent winner was a toilet brush with a tag that says, "Do not use for personal hygiene."

M-Law president Robert B. Dorigo Jones said, "Warning labels are a sign of our lawsuit-plagued times. Plaintiffs lawyers who file the lawsuits that prompt these warnings argue they are making us safer, but the warnings have become so long that few of us read them anymore -- even the ones we should read."

If nobody's reading them anyway, why not include every possible contingency on every label? Couldn't we save a lot of time, grief and legal fees by creating a Universal Warning Label? To wit:

WARNING: Do not use this product for any reason, ever. If you choose to ignore this warning, the manufacturer takes no responsibility for any harm, injury or inconvenience that may result.

May cause cancer, birth defects, abdominal distress, headaches, allergic reactions, scabies, leprosy and bad vibes. Do not use this product if you have an existing medical condition, such as breathing.

Do not use this product if you are taking prescription medication. May cause drowsiness, especially if combined with alcohol. Do not operate heavy machinery.

Do not use if packaging shows signs of tampering. Do not eat the packaging. Do not suffocate yourself with the packaging.

Not a flotation device. Do not use this product as a parachute. Do not drive this product off a cliff into a steaming pool of lava. Not for bungee jumping. Do not use for sexual pleasure or personal hygiene.

Wear protective headgear.

Electric shock hazard! Do not use this product while standing in a puddle. Do not urinate on live wires. Do not stick your tongue to batteries to see if they're still good.

Expect a certain amount of shrinkage. Some settling may have occured during shipment. Wash whites separately.

This product contains calories. And fat. If you eat it, you may become fat yourself. This is not the manufacturer's fault.

Keep out of reach of children and adults who are deemed "slow."

Use at your own risk. Improper use of this product could result in fire, injury or death. Proper use of the product might be chancy, too. I'd carefully set it down and back away, if I were you.

Seek professional help. Buy the service contract. Pay extra for rust protection. Warranty is null and void.

Failure to read and heed this warning could result in accident, injury, brain damage, suffocation, disease, facial swelling, monetary loss, unemployment, bankruptcy, pregnancy, loss of limbs or digits, alcoholism, addiction, alienation, defamation, ridicule, unsightly body hair, hives or the heebie-jeebies.

None of these results are the responsibility of the manufacturer.

Please don't sue us. Please.

1 comment:

clitav said...

I think that is the EXACT label that came on the back of our milk container!
BigSmileForMiles!