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New Uses of Use-By and Warning Labels (Use this article by 12/31/2013; Refrigerate After Opening)

Aug 302013
 
 By , August 30, 2013

How about some warning labels we can really use?

Contact in football may result in Concussion/Brain Injury… Symptoms include loss of consciousness or memory, dizziness, headache, nausea or confusion. If you have symptoms, immediately stop and report them to your coach, trainer and parents.

 — Warning on Schutt football helmets

I don’t trust most “use-by” labels, which seem designed to scare us into discarding perfectly safe and useful items before health or even taste become factors. And warning labels, bah: can’t product liability lawyers let us have our risky or guilty pleasures without escalating our paranoia?

warning labelsBut here are some use-by dates and warning labels that could provide real-world utility:

1.    Label on grade school friends: “Use by start of sophomore year of high school or discard. Caution: people in your rearview mirror may be closer than they appear.”

2.    Tag on politicians: “Use within two election cycles or discard. Call your doctor if election lasts more than 4 hours.”

3.    Stamp on photos of self: “Post on social media within 3 years or, if age 50 or older, within 6 years. Men: if you add or remove facial hair, replace photo within 4 months. Women: if you undergo facelift, Botox treatment or other facial reconfiguration, replace photo as ego dictates.”

4.    Warning to accompany jokes, tall tales and “funny” (perhaps “hysterical”) personal anecdotes: “To avoid annoying repetition, remove from active use after 30 days or 5 retellings. May withdraw from memory bank after 5 years or in the event of new acquaintances, but only for periods of up to 72 hours.”

5.    Label on unconventional new clothing styles (e.g., leisure suits and jeggings): “Remove labels and wear often. Discard after 1-2 wearing seasons or, if earlier, when smirks exceed compliments. Do not recycle.”

6.    Rule for clothing generally: “If this item of apparel has sat in drawer or hung in closet for three or more wearing seasons without being worn, or for two or more wearing seasons without being modeled, sell on eBay or donate promptly to Good Will.”

7.    “Fair-weather” tags on sports teams based where you used to live: “Remain fan for two seasons, then as long as team maintains winning record, but no longer than the date your new locale’s team qualifies for playoffs or, if sooner, when your first child embraces local team.”

8.    Notice on the pile of The New Yorker magazines you haven’t read yet: “Recycle from bottom of pile when stack exceeds 10 pounds or 25 inches. Harmful if swallowed.”

9.    Sign in hotel bathroom: “Warning: Hotel toiletries may be smaller than they appear. Guests wealthy enough to afford this hotel should not steal enough shampoo to cast suspicion on the cleaning staff and overflow their home storage cabinets. Please visit Walgreens or CVS and buy your own damn toiletries!”

10. Legend stamped on Tea Party Movement Platform: “Use by 12-31-1802. Use after expiration may result in loss of consciousness or memory, dizziness, headache, nausea or confusion. If symptoms persist, including desire to vote for Michelle Bachman, notify your parent or guardian immediately.”

If you have any use-by or or warning labels, or safety rules to add, please comment below.

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Howard Zaharoff

Howard Zaharoff reads (a lot), writes (mostly humor), teaches (occasionally) and practices law (doesn't everyone?). He is the author of "Stump Your Lawyer!" (Chronicle 2007), and his work has appeared in The Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, Amazing Stories, Computerworld, The Journal of Irreproducible Results, The Annals of Improbable Research and the books Growing Up Jewish (Penguin 1987) and Sex As a Heap of Malfunctioning Rubble (and Further Improbabilities) (Workman 1993), among other places.
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