CAUTION: This column may cause itchiness, drowsiness, constipation, diarrhea, numbness, blurred vision, depression, decreased sexual activity, persistent fatigue, bruising, bleeding, incontinence, vomiting and shortness of breath.
There, now that the mandatory warning is out of the way we can proceed. For those of you still with me let's talk about warning labels. I am referring to the kind of labels that appear on packages of beef and other meat reminding you that it is better if you cook it.
Sometimes I wonder if these labels do any good. This whole thing started with labels on packages of cigarettes but have warning labels stopped people from smoking? I figure if a young kid is smoking he's too stupid to read the label in the first place. He probably can't read!
Everywhere you look there are warnings. I take medicine five times a day and in the pill bottles is a little packet of desiccant which is put in the bottle to absorb moisture. On the desiccant package in big letters are the words, "DO NOT EAT!" I've been hungry in my life but never so much that I wanted to eat a little bag of sand. On the outside of the pill bottles in red letters it warns me, "Do not operate heavy equipment." I suppose this is what stops me from rushing right out and buying a new backhoe every time I take a pill.
What about those tags on pillows that threaten, "Do not remove this label under penalty of law"? How much hard time, I wonder, does a person have to do if caught in the act of removing a label from a pillow? I'd be willing to bet there is not one rotten pillow label remover doing serious jail time in any prison in this country. It's an outrage, I tell you!
If the government is going to force us to label everything that could potentially be dangerous why don't they make us put warning labels on things that really need them? Like marriage licenses, lawyers and oat bran. And if the politicians are going to make us label everything that is dangerous they ought to have to do the same thing. On every television advertisement and placard for a politician there should be a warning label: "Voting for this person may cause extreme pain." Air Force One should leave a trail of white smoke in its wake... "Beware: Bad news travels fast."
Are people really that stupid that they need to be constantly reminded of all the risks in life? If we are really going to do this label thing right the stock market should carry a warning that it may crash, horses may kick, cows may not calve and objects in the mirror may be fatter than they appear. All females should henceforth be tattooed, "Warning, may be prone to headaches." And all males should have to carry red warning triangles on their rear ends with the warning, “Wide load up ahead.”
Where does it all end? Hot flashes may cause global warming, cats may have kittens and daytime television may cause you to go brain dead. Prune boxes will one day have to be stamped in big letters, "This too shall pass." Old Dobermans will have to carry a tag on their collar, "Let sleeping dogs lie." And shouldn't postage stamps carry a warning that, '"This letter will get there when it gets there?"
While we're on the subject, couldn't the folks who write warning labels be a little more creative. I mean, they are so dry nobody reads them. Warning labels should have to carry a warning label, "Warning, this label may cause drowsiness!”
I just don't think warning labels work and I'll prove it. Those of you who are still with me continued reading this little essay despite being warned that doing so may have caused you to go blind, sterile or dead. WARNING!!! If any of these things have occurred stop reading immediately and contact your doctor or pharmacist.