Read the fine print

For most of my adult life, I’ve encountered written instructions that are either overly-obvious or just beg to be disobeyed. This is why, despite a sign that clearly indicates wet paint, I’ve walked away with paint on my fingers, or (in one disastrous instance), the seat of my pants.

Then there are those tags that on products we purchase that say “do not touch or you will be prosecuted” (or words to that effect). I’ve seen these for decades on hair dryers, toasters, electrical cords, and mattresses and pillows. I have defied the tag-police many times by deliberately removing said tags. In fact, I’m fairly certain that the removal of the tag from the toaster has prevented a nasty house fire.

It was a bit problematic the first time we visited the Smithsonian. Despite the prominent “do not touch” signs, I found my hand wandering towards many a pretty frame or sculpture. I got so close at one point that a guard had to reprimand me! Disaster!

My fascination with tags and instructions have taken a new turn, however. Recently, I began to notice that some of the people who make these products are displaying a quirky sense of humor. It had never occurred to me before, but it must be a tedious job to create tags for appliances or clothing that say the same thing, over and over. Equally dull is the job of printing up the schematics and instructions for putting together furniture or children’s toys.

That’s why I was delighted to find an interesting tag in a new shirt I purchased. Instead of the typical “made in wherever,” it gave the name of the company and this cute line, embroidered on the tag: “These shirts were tested on animals. They didn’t fit.” I laughed very hard at this.

This started me on a quest to find the funniest tags or instructions. I discovered a company in England called Sainsbury. It’s an on-line grocery or market of sorts. On one of the cleaning products they sell, there is an intriguing bit at the very end of the ingredients, cautions, and warnings. It reads, “You are reading this because you forgot your phone when you went to the toilet, didn’t you.” This one made me laugh so hard, I nearly choked on my coffee.

I was shopping on line for some pet shampoo, since it is skunk season currently (and pretty much always is around my house). I found a totally natural pet shampoo that has this information printed on the back: “Remember to eliminate all escape routes well in advance. Once your pet is slippery wet, he or she is suddenly faster and smarter than you are.” Oh, gracious, this has given me a whole new hobby!

This year I plan to carefully read all instructions and tags to discover the great information that is now available. There’s a microwave cookie, for example, includes instructions with the last step as: “Are you seriously still reading? Let’s eat!” This will provide a lot of fun this winter.

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