Sunday, July 9, 2006

Warning Number 7!

I'm in the habit of ignoring directions. Usually, if I buy a new product, I'd rather root around, pressing buttons and setting dials at random to see what happens, than to read the actual instructions. If it is a big-ticket item that comes with a fat manual (fat, of course, because it is written in English, Spanish, French, Hungarian Laotian and Latin), I place that manual in a special folder I have in my file cabinet. But if the instructions come in the form of a flimsy little pamphlet or simply, a fold-out of paper, I normally pitch it in the trash along with the warranty and the return receipt. As a consequence, when the electricity goes off, I end up desperately pushing buttons in an effort to find the right sequence to re-set the date and time on the new phone. It is because of this that the telephone on the kitchen wall currently tells me in its robotic little voice - "February 12, 2005 - 3:17 a.m. - you have one (1) new message and two (2) old messages."
It is because of this penchant of mine to assume that I know more about my new calculator than the engineers at Texas Instruments that caused me, when I bought a new curling iron, to saw through the hard plastic bubble (a substance so strong, that if they made our vehicles out of it, insurance companies would have to halve our rates) that protected it, extracting the appliance and throwing everything else away. And, in fact, this curling iron (1" barrel) seemed to work pretty much on the same principle as the other two curling irons I own (3/4" barrel and 1/2" barrel).
Then Louise came over. I had bought her the exact same curling iron at the same time I bought mine. Unlike me, she actually read the Instruction and Styling Guide that Conair had so thoughtfully provided, along with a handy little diagram labeled: Getting to Know Your Curling Iron. I don't know about you, but I don't really have the time to embark upon a long-term, committed relationship with a curling iron, although I really was rather surprised to learn that my new appliance has 25 temperature settings. I can't even imagine how into doing your hair you'd have to be to ponder which of 25 settings was the correct one. I have always found that the basic "High" and "Low" work well enough for my needs.
But what Louise mostly wanted to inform me of was the WARNING section of the pamphlet. There are 14 of these warnings about how to prevent the risk of "burns, electrocution, fire or injury to persons". Louise drew my attention particularly to Number 7 which states in no uncertain terms, "never use while sleeping!"
Never use while sleeping??? Darn, now I'm going to have to start getting up an extra half an hour early every morning in order to curl my hair while I'm awake!
Seriously, can you even conceive of the discussion among the Conair people when they decided to include Warning Number 7 in their instruction paper? What even brought this subject up? Have they discovered that this is a common problem with Conair users - curling while sleeping? Are there women across the country right now who keep their curling irons on their bedside tables, plugged in and ready to go, so curls can be produced before the alarm goes off in the morning? Is it sleepwalkers who are engaging in this dangerous practice, but if so, what good will the warning do. Sleepwalkers aren't conscious of what they are doing, are they? Have they been sued by someone who claimed to have gotten burned while curling her hair in her sleep?
I'd like to think that at least one Conair representative presented the argument that Warning Number 7 was an insult to their customers but if so, they were overruled by the "better safe than sorry" gang.
So, if you, like me, are the kind of person who doesn't pay much attention to instructions, you've hereby been warned - "Never use your curling iron while asleep!" And you might not want to stick it down into your coffee to warm it up either.