We’d all like to think that we have a pretty firm grasp of the obvious. For example, when husbands detect the smell of fresh pie wafting through the air, they know their wives have been baking. That’s pretty obvious.
When the same husbands later discover a sticky note that says “Do Not Eat or Else” on the freshly made blueberry pie, they know that this could mean trouble. That’s doubly obvious. And when husbands ignore the note and sneak a piece anyway, they know they must now take their blueberry-stained face and hide. That’s Captain Obvious.
Then again, there are some things that are not so obvious. Take brand-name logos. We’ve all seen the FedEx logo, but did you ever notice the arrow between the “e” and the “x”? How about the Baskin-Robbins sign? Have you seen the pink number “31” embedded in parts of the “B” and the “R”?
The next time you buy a bag of Tostitos, check out the party going on with two people sharing a chip and a bowl of salsa. All these things are there, and we’ve seen them a million times, but they are just not so obvious. (Just for fun, turn the Chicago Bulls logo upside down and you’ll see a robot reading a book … and if you want to see a fifth face on Mount Rushmore, just turn a picture of it sideways.)
OK, that’s pretty cool, but if we take the “Obvious/Not So Obvious” concept into the realm of product warning labels, then things really start to become interesting.
Most of us don’t take the time to read these warnings, but if we did, we’d find some very obvious and sometimes ridiculous cautions. For example, children’s Superman costumes now contain the warning that those garments will not enable the wearer to fly. Thanks a lot! If I had known that when I was a kid, I wouldn’t have done an “Up, up, and away!” from my garage roof. Fortunately, my mom had me to the ER faster than a speeding bullet.
Then there’s the informational tag on the wheelbarrow that says it is not intended for highway use. Geesh, and I was thinking about having my wife hop in it and wheeling her to Chicago for a night on the town.
How about the admonition to not use the hair dryer while sleeping? And speaking of sleeping, make sure you heed the warning on the nighttime sleep-aid pills that tells you they may cause drowsiness.
Yep, we’re told to keep the bottle rockets out of our mouths, that some assembly is required of the 500-piece puzzle, and that cans of pepper spray may irritate our eyes.
Oh, and those cardboard sun shields that we put inside our windshields to keep our car cool on hot days … whoever thought you’d have to remove them before driving? Did you know that the television remote is not dishwasher safe? And thankfully I read the laundry detergent warning that instructed me to take off my clothes before putting them into the washing machine.
Would you believe you shouldn’t consume Odor Eaters and that if you look through a microscope, objects appear much larger than they really are? Do not attempt to swallow that mattress you just bought and please read the warning printed on the bottom of the dessert box that tells you not to turn it upside down.
Evidently it appears that some things are obvious and other things aren’t. I guess it all depends on whether you’re a pie thief or a budding superhero. Now please excuse me while I put on my Spider-Man costume and climb a few walls.
• Michael Penkava is a retired teacher who taught for 35 years at West Elementary School in Crystal Lake. He is currently trying to figure out what to do if you eat something that is missing the seal that says, “Do not eat if seal is missing.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.