Thursday, February 7, 2013

Clean Angel

As a parent, partner and office visitation hotspot, I get very little time to myself. Very little. So little that I genuinely enjoy doing things like meticulously hanging up the delicates load to dry or scrubbing the bathrooms 'cause while I'm doing these things I'm almost, almost able to pretend I'm having a couple of minutes alone (others in the household generally avoid entering my line of sight while I'm doing housework because they think I then won't notice that I'm the only person doing housework and make them do something). I joke about having alone time in the bathroom but every parent knows this isn't actually true - the kids simply view any of my bio breaks as their having a captive audience.

Possible taglines: "Can I have some waaaaaterrrrrr?" "Which tights do you think I should wear with this?" "Where's my yellow dino with the orangeish tail?" "How do you say 'metamorphic' in French?" "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU LITTLE FREAKS WHY ARE YOU TALKING TO ME WHILE I'M PEEING FOR GAWD'S SAKE COULDN'T YOU WAIT FOR TWO FREAKING MINUTES??"

Really, the only true, solid alone time I'm guaranteed to get in life is when I'm in a bathroom stall at work at, say, 6:30am. Thank you, exceedingly small bladder, for bringing me this solace. Namaste.

But something has been interfering with my beloved alone time of late, a nasty, pervasive and cloyingly sweet something called Passive-Aggressive Bathroom Signage (PABS). In the unlikely event you've never been unwillingly subjected to the phenomenon, it goes something like this:

Laaaaadieeees! To avoid Plugging and Overflowing the toilets Please don't flush Any feminine hygiene products that are Not supposed to be flushed. Also Please don't forget to flush the Toilets. Also please remember to Check to make sure the toilet is Flushed and that the stall is clean and sparkly for the Next Person to use it! Thanks Ladies!

Laaaaadieeees! Please! Don't Forget to wash your Hands really well with Soap and Water when you're done using the Facilities! It's Flu season! Also good hygiene is Always in season! Thanks Ladies!

Laaaaadieeees! Please be a Clean Angel and wipe Up any water ! drips On the counter With Your paper towel when ! you're Done Drying your Hands! Thanks Ladies!

Gratuitous deployment of exclamation points and capitalization of random words in text are hallmarks of PABS, and if only I could get Blogger to reproduce the barely intelligible script font and flowery pink background that are also characteristic I would. These things alone are enough to wreck my mind on a given day, but when combined with the theft of my precious little alone time it really makes me snap.

I'll tell you a secret: I'm the person who routinely removes the signage. I don't even recycle it, I just flush that shit right down the toilet and then I laugh - ha ha ha! - at the Plugging and Overflowing that ensue. Y'know why? Because I've been made insane by PABS and can't be held responsible for my deep-seated feelings of aggression and rebellious rage. Plus there was no sign that told me I wasn't supposed to so clearly I couldn't have been expected to know better.

This week, there was a new development in the ladies rooms at work: laminated signs. Oh, yes. Passive-Aggressive Bathroom Signage at my office just got real.

The fourth floor counter-revolutionary cell has identified the need for similarly amped up tactics. Operative RedBot2 has proposed the following radical measures: produce our own laminated PABS. Post under cover of darkness in locations proximal to existing signage. Recommend deployment of correct grammar and punctuation, legible text and high-contrast background to further highlight ludicrous nature of existing signage. Suggested topics include:

- Have you phoned your mother lately?
- The RRSP deadline for the 2012 tax year is fast approaching.
- When was the last time you completed a breast self-exam?
- Do you contribute to charity as much as you would have people believe?
- Eat 5 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables every day for optimal health.
- What would Grandma think of that fellow you're sleeping with?
- Please do not flush non-flushable signage.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Real True Information

Why does my microwave dinner feel compelled to warn me that it may become hot when cooked (well, duh) yet gets all coy about letting me know it likely contains at least one chunk of sick gristle?

I've got thermodynamics down, thanks. And yup (the futility of the enterprise notwithstanding) I shouldn't deploy my hair dryer in the bathtub. What, everything smaller than my head is a choking hazard? Whew, thanks for letting me know.  

I get that everyone is worried about spurious legal action but in my opinion we've swung too far in that direction along the continuum - on one hand, no amount of product labeling can prevent stupidity and on the other hand ... the next generation is descended from the survivors. Maybe we shouldn't be trying so hard to keep certain people around and muddying up the gene pool (this bag of peanuts may contain peanuts? deeeeeep). However you wish to view it, I don't think we've really explored the possibility of product labels providing the average non-stupid user some real true information about the product. Now let's get on with telling us things that don't necessarily and logically follow from the nature of the product, yet would be useful to know:

"This product can burn eyes." This is on my straightening iron, but for some reason it's not on my clothes iron or my toaster or my oven, all of which also become hot and could feasibly be viewed as equal eye-burning risks. Maybe even greater if you're the sort of person who likes to check on your toast to see how it's coming along. (I am.) So tell me, manufacturer: what is it about this straightening iron that might compel me to stick it - more so than any other hot household appliance - in my eyes? That's what I'd really like to know so I can be sure to stay on guard for it.

"This product is not a substitute for parental supervision." Well shit, I bought these plastic plug in covers precisely so I wouldn't have to supervise my children, in general, ever, but fine - now that I know that, tell me where the hell I can find something that's a good substitute. I could really use a nap.

"Suggested serving." You mean there's not an entire cherry cheesecake inside this tin of condensed milk? WTF? Just kidding, I actually was able to deduce that on my very own. But I bought the damn tin because I'm extremely susceptible to suggestions of cheesecake at certain times of the month and now is one of those times. Tell me how to make this cherry cheesecake you promised me happen from this tin of condensed milk before someone gets hurt.  

Here are a few more ideas I figure might be helpful for the average consumer to know in advance:
- Spicy as hell.

- Your kids will never eat this.

- Your collagen is never coming back no matter how much of this or any other potion you rub on your face.

- This product might be beneficial in the long term, but it will definitely give you fish burps something fierce in the meantime.

- Not very nutritious.

- This garment will self-destruct in two washings.

- This product is not clinically proven to do anything at all.

- You probably shouldn't be eating this.

- This product is a sheer waste of twelve dollars.

- Please don't wear this. It looks terrible on you.

And possibly the saddest Real True Information of all:

- This product is only as effective as the person cleaning the bathroom with it.