Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The kind ones

Avery 6578 Permanent white durable i.d. labels for laser printers, 2 x 2-5/8, 750/pack
Product warning labels show just how much the manufacturers care for us
Madhumita Gupta

‘Remove baby before folding’ – on a pram. ‘Warning: May contain nuts’ – on a packet of nuts. ‘Open packet, eat nuts’ – yes, again on a packet of nuts. ‘Do not use for drying pets’ – in the manual for a microwave oven. ‘For indoor and outdoor use only’ – on a string of Chinese fairy lights, and so on and so forth. Not one of these product warnings is a figment of my imagination, but before you start frothing at the mouth at them for taking us to be blockheads, look at their side of the picture. Mums and dads are busy beings, what if they forget? What if the people haven't paid attention to what they are buying? What if they don't know what to do with the packet? What if you can't stand to see your dripping pet shivering in the cold and try to dry him out in seconds? And what if you think the fairy lights are some sort of exotic Chinese neckpieces? You see? 
Would you blame the fast food biggie's caution in printing a 'Hot contents inside' warning in big letters after burning its fingers by paying big bucks in damages in some of the 700 serious injuries its hot coffee had caused?
If not to avoid litigation, at times, the reason behind stating the obvious is pure milk of human kindness, a fellow feeling worth emulating.
Take the walnut pack which i bought yesterday. It had '100% Natural!' written on it in bright green. "Is there any other kind?" hubby sniggered. What he doesn't see is that how do you know if there isn't an artificial kind? How thoughtful of the company to let us know that the walnut we are consuming is natural. The sign on a popular hair colour box is the soul of concern for consumers; 'Do not use as an ice cream topping'. One could very well do that, especially when the model on the box looks good enough to eat! But the one which created a lump in my throat was this one on a hairdryer; 'Do not use while taking a
shower'. Do you realise that the manufacturer foresaw our penchant for multi-tasking? He knew one might think of washing and drying hair together to save precious time if not life. Had there been a Nobel prize for 'Life-saver of the year', he would've been the top contender for it.
We really shouldn't overlook the far-sightedness of these noble souls. One gem on a disposable razor said, 'Do not use this product during an earthquake'. Could anybody but the composer of the warning foresee that an earthquake means a disaster, a disaster means TV crews and one has to look presentable on TV? Of course, shaving would and should be the first thing on a person's mind during an earthquake!
At times, preventing us from looking like fools may also be the reason behind the warnings. The other day i caught my elderly aunt staring glumly at a strip of sleeping pills with, 'Warning: May cause drowsiness' on it. Obvious? A first rate fool you'd feel if you took it for a good night's sleep and ended up only drowsy!
A current advertisement of a popular brand of chewing gum on TV shows people switching the moon on and off by flicking open or shut the 'new' flick-open pack. A line below says 'An imaginary interpretation'. And i, for one, find it perfectly logical – one doesn't know how many of the viewers may still believe in the rhyme they learnt at momma's knees, 'Chanda mama door ke', and try to do the same as the people in the advertisement.
My point is, look for the deep thought before condemning the caring souls.

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