Warnings should be useful,
and a few are. The reminder
that smoking is harmful to your health and alcohol
impairs your ability to operate large machinary may actually
give someone a second thought before dragging or imbibing.
"Warning: the bridge is out!" is also information which
commuters would find
helpful, whether they want to
get home safely or end it all after a rough quarter.
If I'm visiting the Great Plains
and hear the freight train sound of an approaching tornado,
the first thing I'm going to do is look for a sign directing
me to the tornado shelter.
However, in our increasingly legalistic society, more and
more warnings are written and displayed so as to protect their
authors, not their readers. Call them literary lead underpants.
Some of these warnings are about
such obvious dangers that the only purpose
of their existence is to provide legal cover.
Probably the most common is "Caution:
contents of this styrofoam beverage container may be hot!" Whoops!
Usually I expect my coffee served at room temperature.
Thanks for the heads-up.
While the obvious warnings are annoying, uselessly vague warnings
are such an affront to common sense that they are downright infuriating.
The chromatic Homeland Security Advisory System
has often been met with this criticism. However, on a trip to San Francisco, I came upon the epitomy of
these vague warnings. A brass sign in the 36th floor
lounge of the Grand Hyatt Hotel reads
Chemicals Known to the State of California
To Cause Cancer, Or Birth Defects or Other Reproductive Harm
May Be Present In Foods or Beverages Sold or Served Here.
Gee whiz, thanks California! Could you give me a hint about
which food or beverage is going to give me cancer or kill my sperm?
Is this just the usual warning, processed through a dozen
lawyers, that alcohol isn't good for
pregnant women? Or
is this a new Schwarzenegger
one of these foods may kill
you, enjoy your California fruits, vegetables and