May 5, 2010


Tales by Triplett

Triplett,PatrickBy Patrick Triplett

With all of the warnings regarding nearly every product on the market today, it makes me wonder how we Baby Boomers are still alive. The only “warnings” I remember growing up were, don’t eat under-cooked pork, drink Drano, or stare directly into the sun for more than two minutes.

Somewhere along the way we were told that cigarettes were bad for us, and that wearing seat belts were good. But in general, we managed to survive without being told that 90 percent of everything we put in our mouths, applied to our skin, or came in contact with was potentially damaging to our health.

We live in the age of lawsuits, and it comes with the territory that we need to be warned of anything that could possibly go wrong in order to protect the consumer as well as the manufacturer.

Whether it’s food, over the counter medications, cleaning products, appliances or power tools, it will no doubt come with a label telling us of the potential hazards.

“Warning: eating peanut butter may produce symptoms that include dry mouth, excessive thirst, and a craving for jelly. If you experience any of these symptoms, take two pieces of bread, make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and drink a glass of milk. Before doing so, read the warning labels regarding bread, jelly, and milk and consult your doctor before eating.”

As outlandish as that seems, we are clearly headed down that path. The worst are the warning labels and possible side effects that come with prescription medications. Most of them read like a Stephen King novel.

“Warning: taking this product may cause dizziness, fatigue, blurred vision, headache, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, anxiety, irregular
heartbeat, loss of bodily functions, the ability to count to three, and developing a striking resemblance to Pee Wee Herman.

Suddenly that pesky indigestion doesn’t seem so bad when compared to the possible side effects.

Other warnings are just plain ridiculous and an insult to our intelligence. Some actual ones include:

“Toilet paper – unwrap roll before using.”
“Sleeping pills – may cause drowsiness.”
“Butane lighter – flame may cause fire.”
“Hair dryer – never use in the shower or while sleeping.”
And my personal favorite – “If parachute is defective, return to place of purchase.”

I saw an ad on TV recently for a product to help people quit
smoking. I could not believe the warnings associated with this product, and rewound the TV to make sure I heard it right. This is verbatim what it said:

“Important safety information: some people have experienced changes in behavior, hostility, agitation, depressed mood, and suicidal thoughts while taking or after taking this product. If you notice any of these changes, call your doctor.”

So in other words, taking this product may cause you to purchase an automatic weapon and open fire in a crowded restaurant, but at least you won’t feel the need to smoke a cigarette afterward.

Then there are the ads for E.D, you know, the ones where they show a man and a woman sitting outdoors in separate bathtubs. Does anyone actually do that? And if so, why? Among the many warnings regarding this product are:

“If you experience an erection lasting more than four hours, call your doctor immediately.”

I can just picture some guy who this actually happens to, nervously checking his watch after three and a half hours, and getting out the phone book to look up his doctor’s number. Twenty minutes later he picks up the phone, frantic, and gets ready to dial the number.

“Quick,” he says to himself. “You only have ten minutes left. Try to think of something that will help. The Cubs’ bullpen. The Bears’ offensive line. That Colonoscopy you keep putting off. Rosie O’Donnell. Something, anything.”

What I can’t figure out is what good it would do to call your doctor? What’s he going to do? Tell you to come in and see him? You wouldn’t be able to walk out in public in your current state.

The list of warnings keeps growing by the day. I heard a news report recently that a study has revealed cell phones can be hazardous to your health. Pretty soon we will come full circle to where seat belts will be considered potentially dangerous. They’ve done it with air bags. Why not seat belts? Surely they can think of something that might go wrong when wearing one. Strangulation, perhaps? Inability to release the fastener in case you need to jump out of the car for some reason?

So the next time you go to purchase an item, you can do one of two things. You can either read the warning label and be scared out of your wits, or ignore it all together. Our generation managed to survive without them – except maybe for the the guy who failed to return his parachute after discovering it was defective.

For comments regarding this story Patrick can be reached by e-mail at