Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Where stupid signs come from

Sometimes when I see a stupid sign I like to imagine why that sign was necessary. Like "Don't drink water out of the toilet" or "Do not put this plastic bag over your head."

You can just picture the Will Farrel comedy moment that spawned those gems.

This morning a child pointed out to me that something was wrong with the pencil sharpener. She thought maybe there was a broken off crayon in there. I thought, who would be so stupid as to put a crayon in the pencil sharpener? But it was worse.

I carefully examined what looked like a big block of pink in the hole. I bent a paper clip and dug into it.


Someone put an eraser in the pencil sharpener.

So after about five minutes with the paper clip as my filthy, graphite covered hands I finally pulled forth a chunk of pink eraser and held it aloft for all to see. Then I wrote on a bright pink post-it note that I placed on the bottom of the device: "Please do not stick erasers in the pencil sharpener."

1 comment:

  1. Because of a $3 million jury award in 1992, McDonald's warns its customers on every cup that the coffee is, well, hot. (Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts use similar warnings, too.)

    Label: Keep pet birds out of the kitchen when using this product.
    Product: Bialetti Casa Italiana's nonstick pans
    Polly may not have a thing for fancy cookware, but she might not like the fumes potentially given off by hot Teflon. "Many animal owners call us inquiring about it," says Richard Duran, a Bialetti consumer relations representative.

    Label (on Web site): Warning: This costume does not enable flight or super strength.
    Product: Frankel's Costume Superman costumes
    Can you really blame the folks at Houston-based Frankel's Costume for guarding against the old super-power plea? The costume itself does not contain the warning, but Frankel's representatives said the company thought it was necessary to give a heads-up.

    Label: Do not iron clothes on body.
    Product: Rowenta's irons
    While the company hasn't been involved in litigation, says spokesperson Jennifer Gear, Rowenta is not taking any chances. "As silly as it sounds, people do iron skirts when they're running out the door and get burned," she says. "[The warning label] is there for a good reason."

    Label: Do not use for personal hygiene.
    Product: Scrubbing Bubbles Fresh Brush
    This label won an award at the annual Wacky Warning Label Contest hosted by Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch, an advocacy group. Apparently the folks at S.C. Johnson are afraid that customers will go to any length to get those hard-to-reach spots on their backs--even by using a toilet brush.

    Label: This product moves when used.
    Product: Razor scooter
    A former Wacky Warning award finalist, this one speaks for itself.

    Label: Ask a doctor before use if you have difficulty urinating due to an enlarged prostate.
    Product: Midol Menstrual Complete
    Sound advice from Merck. But should sufferers of premenstrual syndrome really lose sleep over enlarged prostates?

    Label (on Web site): Do Not Eat
    Product: Apple's iPod shuffle
    When Apple introduced its digital music player in 2005, the company added this warning on its Web site.

    Wacky Warning Label Contest Award Winners

    2003 Award Winners

    A Warning Label found on a popular robotic massage chair featuring "Human Touch Technology" cautions users: "Do not use massage chair without clothing... and, Never force any body part into the backrest area while the rollers are moving. "

    A snowblower warns: “Do not use snowthrower on roof.”

    A dishwasher carries this warning: “Do not allow children to play in the dishwasher.”

    2005 Award Winners

    A toilet brush with a tag that says "Do not use for personal hygiene" has taken top prize for the wackiest consumer warning label of 2005.

    Other top finishers the year included:

    A scooter with the warning "This product moves when used."

    A digital thermometer with the advice "Once used rectally, the thermometer should not be used orally."

    An electric blender used for chopping and dicing that reminds users to "Never remove food or other items from the blades while the product is operating."

    And a three-inch bag of air used for packaging that read "Do not use this product as a toy, pillow, or flotation device."

    2008 Award Winners

    A label on a small tractor that warns, "Danger: Avoid Death," has been chosen as the nation's most obvious warning label for 2008.

    Other top finishers the year included:

    A label they found on an iron-on T-shirt transfer that warns: "Do not iron while wearing shirt."

    A label on a baby-stroller featuring a small storage pouch that warns, "Do not put child in bag."

    a warning label on a letter opener that says: "Caution: Safety goggles recommended."

    a warning she found on Vanishing Fabric Marker which cautions users:
    "The Vanishing Fabric Marker should not be used as a writing instrument for signing checks or any legal documents."

    Misc. Winners

    A label on a baby stroller warns: “Remove child before folding

    A brass fishing lure with a three-pronged hook on the end warns: “Harmful if swallowed

    A nine- by three-inch bag of air used as packing material cautions: "Do not use this product as a toy, pillow, or flotation device."

    The label on an electric hand blender promoted for use in "blending, whipping, chopping and dicing," warns: "Never remove food or other items from the blades while the product is operating."

    A digital thermometer that can be used to take a person's temperature several different ways warns: "Once used rectally, the thermometer should not be used orally."

    A household iron warns users: “Never iron clothes while they are being worn”

    A label on a hair dryer reads, “Never use hair dryer while sleeping”

    A warning on an electric drill made for carpenters cautions: “This product not intended for use as a dental drill.”

    The label on a bottle of drain cleaner warns: “If you do not understand, or cannot read, all directions, cautions and warnings, do not use this product.”

    A smoke detector warns: “Do not use the Silence Feature in emergency situations. It will not extinguish a fire.”

    A cardboard car sunshield that keeps sun off the dashboard warns, “Do not drive with sunshield in place”

    An “Aim-n-Flame” fireplace lighter cautions, “Do not use near fire, flame or sparks”

    A label on a hand-held massager advises consumers not to use “while sleeping or unconscious”

    A 12-inch rack for storing compact disks warns: “Do not use as a ladder.”

    A cartridge for a laser printer warns, “Do not eat toner”

    A 13-inch wheel on a wheelbarrow warns: “Not intended for highway use”

    A can of self-defense pepper spray warns users: “May irritate eyes”

    A warning on a pair of shin guards manufactured for bicyclists says: “Shin pads cannot protect any part of the body they do not cover.”

    A popular manufactured fireplace log warns: “Caution - Risk of Fire”

    A box of birthday cake candles says: “DO NOT use soft wax as ear plugs or for any other function that involves insertion into a body cavity.”


    I wish I were only making this up.


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