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SHREWSBURY, MA – I never cease to be amazed by some of the things I read, hear and observe. Television commercials in particular cause me to scratch my head and ponder. It boggles my mind to realize that before these words and images are released to the public they have been approved by an infinite number of people.
For instance, what about those television advertisements that promise to improve the quality of your life – through drugs? On screen you see a seventy year old couple holding hands and frolicking through a meadow of wild flowers, not a care in the world, newly cured of arthritis, prostate problems, paranoia and liver spots. And, as they romp through the field her sheer, gossamer dress billowing in the breeze, and their faithful dog running beside them, we hear a woman’s soft lilting voice chanting in the background, “Zoxill is not good for everyone and may cause blindness, baldness, death and in some rare cases, stretch marks. Consult your lawyer before taking.”
You know I’m going to run right out and buy that product.
Another thing that drives me up the wall is having to stand in line. By nature I’m what might be classified as someone qualified for excessive doses of Ritalin with a Valium chaser. Stand me in a line for more than five minutes and the heavy breathing you hear will not be an invitation to come closer; it will be me hyperventilating.
I was fifth in a Customer Service line at Sears. I had been standing there for roughly twenty minutes and the line hadn’t moved one iota. The veins on my neck had begun to bulge and I heard the woman in back of me question her husband about the grinding sound emanating from my face. Because of the onslaught of phone calls coming in, the Customer Service representative had not been able to respond to the needs of the people waiting in line. It became evident that I was not going to get the attention I needed by remaining in line so I got out of line, walked to a corner of the room and made a phone call to Sears Customer Service. Then, and only then, was my problem heard and addressed.
The other day I bought a battery run pencil sharpener. When I got home I spent ten seconds putting in four batteries and an additional half hour trying to slide the cover back over the batteries. Yes, of course I could have read the directions, but I rarely do that. Apparently the masochistic side of me prefers the aggravation and challenge of figuring things out myself – which rarely happens.
Sweaty and thoroughly defeated I was forced to confront my limitations, and read the directions. All I can say is it’s a good thing I did. Right there in huge, menacing black letters were the words, Do not insert your finger into the sharpening hole. To do so may cause injury to the user. The warning included a drawing of a circle, and in the circle was a line drawing of a finger being inserted into the sharpener. Through the entire picture was an “X”. I was relieved to see that the manufacturer had been responsible enough to include the drawing because the over-sized, bold, black, underlined, italicized words might have gone unnoticed.
I breathed an enormous sigh of relief, closed my eyes and thanked God for watching over me. He must have known my plans for the evening included snuggling under my covers with a hot cup of herbal tea, watching my Thursday night television lineup, and sticking a finger or two into the hole of my pencil sharpener.
I especially love when a robot on the other end of my receiver tells me to press “1” if I want English, and continues giving her talk in Spanish. Since I live in America, and the greater majority of us speak English I would think that the robot should give the Spanish speaking people an opportunity to push “1” if you speak Spanish, and the remaining instructions should continue in English….but, hey….that’s just me being picky. So, whenever this happens, I wait until a human picks up. Then I speak Pig Latin….the only language besides English that I know fluently.
I’ve got a killer headache right now, so I’m going to take a nice, relaxing, hot bath; but first I need to move my radio a little closer to the inner edge of the tub.
Laverne Bardy is a syndicated columnist for the Shrewsbury Lantern