10. Ingredients for Items Besides Food
It’s amusing that we obsess over how many calories are in our Jimmy John’s gourmet veggie club (there are 773) or the Sonic peanut butter shake (1,010) but we don’t even bother to notice the gelatin in our supposedly vegetarian-friendly aspirin — which we still ingest but don’t relish like the PB shake. And what is carbomer, or sodium borate? Should I be putting it on my face? Should I be spraying my living room with butoxyethanol? Sounds like something that belongs in my car. When it comes to what we ingest by chewing, many of us are star pupils — not only do we know the ingredients, we know how much of each ingredient is in said food. Just because we’re aware of caloric content doesn’t mean we still don’t indulge in the fatty food, but at least we use our reading skills.
9. Credit Card Offers
Note to the credit card companies: When you all send the same 0 percent intro APR offers in the mail at the same time, it kind of loses its effect. How about retaining customer loyalty by offering rewards programs that don’t require 10 years to earn $1 in returns. Right now, the only people who read the disproportionate-amount-of-credit-card-offers-to-household-members are the would-be identity thieves standing outside my trash can if I don’t shred this massive waste of paper.
8. Terms of Service Agreement
Hold on: Gotta read my iPod Touch Software License Agreement. And what a riveting read it is. We all know these “terms and conditions” agreements — the intimidating legalese encountered each time we open an account or each time there are updates for iTunes, Facebook, or The Next Big Thing. Besides lawyers, who reads these things? It does give you a whole new respect for lawyers, though. Lawyer jokes seem totally unwarranted when you consider these people must pore through 38 pages of fine print on the intricacies of permitted license uses and restrictions and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The lawyers writing these agreements are polite, too, asking us to “please” read the software license agreement carefully before using our new device. So, apparently not only should you read this Pulitzer Prize-level prose, but you must savor each word.
7. Annual Reports
They look nice and important, don’t they — those glossy annual reports chock-full of glowing achievements, professional photos and cool graphics. Though many companies have discovered this newfangled technology that is the Internet and moved their reports online, like the hard-copy versions of the Yellow Pages, these paper reports simply refuse to die. Depending upon the company’s financial situation, these can make either A) good fly swatters or B) nice doorstops.
A stepchild to the annual report, programs passed out at plays, concerts, recitals and musicals everywhere are also glossy and you certainly know it would be sacrilege to bend these golden papers, as good money was spent on printing. I understand everyone wants to see and get to know the performers. But most of these programs contain ads, letters from the director of the company and page upon page of “shout-outs” to benefactors and sponsoring organizations. In this setting, however, an interesting phenomenon occurs: that of the captive audience. A document that normally would never be read gets read simply because there is downtime before the presentation starts or at intermission. After all, what else are you going to do while waiting for the show to start — talk to your date or event companion? I think not.
5. Owner's Manuals
Have you ever said to yourself: I think I want to learn about the anatomy of my vehicle’s safety belt today? I didn’t think so. But if you ever got the urge, your car owner’s manual would be at the ready to satiate your desire for knowledge about your vehicle. This category also applies to the TMI instruction manuals or packets, the ones that provide Too Much Information about items as straightforward as Yaffa Blocks, as if you’re undertaking a project whose complexity is only matched by neurosurgery.
4. College (Needs Money, Wants You to Go Back to School)
Maybe I’m just a horrible alumna, but ala credit card companies (see No. 9) the effect of these requests for money wrapped in pretty packages starts to wear off as these requests become more frequent. Requests are more maddening when A) multiple graduates reside in one household and B) multiple graduates with multiple degrees from multiple schools reside in one household. The recipients of these requests are A) sending money to schools already to pay off massive student loans and are B) broke. I do give schools credit, though. The pamphlets are pretty … and creative. And my dear alma maters could never be as exasperating as the flyers from the degree mills, telling me how I can seize opportunities in the sizzling vet tech field.
3. Airline Safety Placards
Anyone who has flown commercially has seen the laminated placards in the pocket of the airline seat in front of them. The placards share space with the barf bag, the in-flight magazine and SkyMall. I’m pretty sure the little bags get used more often than the placards, which illustrate how to use your seat as a flotation device. Generally speaking, in the entire history of commercial aviation, when an aircraft goes down in the water, that’s it, there isn’t a need for flotation devices (with the “Miracle on the Hudson” excepted.) Although I can’t recite the details of these airline safety cards, I can tell you that SkyMall has an awesome Easter Island Monolith Statue that would look great in my backyard.
2. Movie Credits
Did you have a friend in college who thought he was going to be the next Tarantino or Spielberg? I did, too. After the movie had ended, and we discovered the identity of the actor who looked so familiar but we just couldn’t put our finger on his/her name, he would wait with bated breath for the identity of key grip or third grip twice removed to be revealed. Most people are not like this. Most people are in bed by the time these film enthusiasts have finally discovered the name of the production house behind the obscure song you will, mercifully, never hear again.
1. Bedding Tags
I can’t possibly be the only one who swears a Seinfeld episode featured the topic of bedding tags affixed to our mattresses or pillows, screaming at us in bold, capital letters: “UNDER PENALTY OF LAW THIS TAG NOT TO BE REMOVED.” As puzzling and Orwellian as this sounds, there is a good reason for the tag, according to American Law Label Inc., which reports manufacturers must include these tags to let buyers know their stuffed materials contain either new or recycled content — of importance because contaminated, recycled content could contain “unsavory materials.” Also, some companies require you keep the tag for warranty purposes. So maybe it really does pay to read this tag. Here’s a fun fact — now these tags indicate they may be removed BY THE CONSUMER. But that wasn’t always the case. If you have older bedding materials, the tag will probably read word-for-word that it can’t be removed “legally,” no exceptions.