If you woke up this morning wondering if we have a shortage of common sense and a longage of lawyers in this country, let me put your mind at rest. These words come from an actual warning label stuck on a pair of football shin pads: “Shin pads cannot protect any part of the body they do not cover.”
Sure, it’s funny. But it’s creepy too. That warning label is a sure sign that somebody, somewhere strapped on a pair of shin pads, busted up a whole other part of his body, then won a whopping-big lawsuit against the shin-pad people. Right now, Mr. Shin Pad Plaintiff is relaxing at his new beach house, smoking a fat Cuban cigar, and waiting for the cabana boy to fetch him another rum drink. Meanwhile, regular Americans are paying more than ever for shin pads.
The shin-pad warning won the Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch (M-LAW) Wacky Warning Labels contest. Joe Schanderson, who reported the shin-pad label to M-LAW, picked up $500 for his winning submission.
I know you’re wondering: What won second place? Well, I’m going to tell you. It was this label, stuck on a public-bathroom toilet: “Recycled flush waterunsafe for drinking.”
Well, if that’s true, my cat Sassy is in a world of trouble. She gets every ounce of her water out of the downstairs commode. If I were to put the lid down, Sassy would shrivel up and die.
Still, that label means that somewhere, people have been caught drinking out of public toilets.
Understand, I’m all in favor of safety, and I hand out warnings like Jehovah’s Witnesses hand out the Watchtower. But when I hear that we’re putting up labels to keep people from drinking commode water, my first thought is, commode-water drinkers are not going to be big warning heeders. If they can read, I’d bet they don’t read. Moreover, I’m pretty sure they don’t give a damn about anybody’s rules. They’ve got a thirst, and they’re gonna slake it. Me, I’d just stand back and let ’em.
I classify the commode-water warning label as more useless than wacky. It’s along the lines of the sign I’ve seen on the door at the post office: “No dogs allowed, except seeing-eye dogs.”
As so often happens in government work, nobody thought that one through all the way. The blind people, God bless ’em, are not going to see the sign, so they’re going to barge right in, seeing-eye dog and all. I know what the sign creators were thinking. They thought, we can’t just put up a no-dogs-allowed sign. What if a blind person comes in with a seeing-eye dog?
I can answer that: The blind person would just go about his business. Even with all the rude and crazy people running around in this country, no one is cruel enough to eject a blind person’s guide dog from the post office. I’m amazed that I have to explain this.
I saw my favorite-ever useless sign in the window of a Murfreesboro drugstore: “Ears pierced, while you wait.”
Please, somebody explain to me the other ways to get your ears pierced. I mean, except for Vincent van Gogh and that unfortunate John Paul Getty kid, has anybody ever just dropped an ear off somewhere?
Here’s another runner-up in the M-LAW contest: “Warning: Riders of personal watercraft may suffer injury due to forceful injection of water into body cavities either by falling into the water or while mounting the craft.”
That one reminds me of the signs near Shaw Air Force Base in Columbia, S.C.: “Watch for low-flying aircraft.”
Neither of these warnings do a person one bit of good. If I’m driving along next to the air base, and a fighter jet comes screaming by at 600 mph, at treetop level, what am I supposed to do? Yield the right of way? Duck? And if I fall off a water scooter ass-first, what am I supposed to do before I hit the water? Clinch up?
As for that part about forceful injection while mounting the craft, I say those water-scooter people have a real product liability problem. Any ride that gives people surprise enemas just for climbing on is going to have a high complaint rate. I know I’d be riled.
One more M-LAW honorable mention, this one a warning on an electric router: “This product not intended for use as a dental drill.”
Please, router people, remove this warning. If people want to drill out their own cavities with a big-ass woodworking tool, let them. Shoot, encourage them. Something tells me that drilling their teeth with a router is the least harmful thing these people will ever do. We need to know who the router-dentists are and get a tough-love intervention going before they get even weirder.
Visit Walter Jowers’ Web site at http://www.housesenseinc.com, or e-mail him at email@example.com