The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It


Let me be the first to admit (before you take the time to point it out) that I am not the smartest person on planet Earth.  But I still think that in a fairly administered IQ test, I could hold my own against your above average hedgehog.  Let me further admit that there are certain warning labels whose meaning or intent I simply do not comprehend.

Let me offer you an example.

I had decided that the walls of my office were looking a little dingy and so I decided to wash them down.  This was a few days ago.  Because I try to act in an environmentally friendly way, I was using a product manufactured by The Clorox Company called “Green Works” whose contents are supposed to be completely bio-degradable.

I hadn’t started with a full bottle of the stuff (it comes in one of those spray top containers) and mid-way through the project I ran out.  As I was tired, I decided that I would finish the next day after going to the store and buying a new supply.

So the  following morning I went to my supermarket and there was a nice supply of Green Works on the shelf.  But it was all in those spray bottles and I didn’t see a refill size available.  I asked customer service if they carried a refill quantity of this product.  They looked it up in their computer and said that was the only size in which they carried the product.

So I thought, “Surely Clorox must offer this product in a larger quantity.  After all, it is supposed to be an environmentally-friendly product – and offering a larger size would reduce the amount of plastic waste.”

I went home and called the 800 number on my original bottle and spoke with a friendly young lady at Clorox.  I explained my quest for their product and wondered if she could tell me if there were a larger, refill size available.

She put me on hold for a few minutes and said, “I’ve checked.  We do make a gallon-size in Green Works.”

I asked if she would be able to direct me to a store that carried it.

She responded, “Well, Lowe’s and Home Depot carry it from time to time (she also mentioned several other retailers which were unfamiliar to me), but I couldn’t tell you if they currently have it in stock.  You’ll have to check with the stores.”

Well, I had accomplished something.  I at least knew the product existed.  So I thanked her and ended the call.

I went both to the Lowe’s and Home Depot web sites and typed Green Works in the query box.  Neither store carried the specific Clorox product (in any size) but they both offered a similar product called “Simple Green” which had like attributes and was also environmentally-friendly.  And it was available in a gallon-sized quantity for $9.99 as opposed to my original spray bottle which contained a quart and was priced at $4.69.  This was a terrific savings if you know that there are four quarts to a gallon.  (Well, actually it’s a terrific savings even if you don’t).

It did occur to me briefly that pouring Simple Green into a bottle which once contained Green Works might, in certain parts of the country, be construed as miscegenation.  But other than sharing this with my readers I am not going to tell anyone and I have total confidence that you will keep this between us.

So this morning after the dog park, Gracie and I headed over to Lowe’s to track down the Simple Green gallon jug.  I didn’t anticipate any problems because the web site said this particular store had 18 of them in stock.  I put on Gracie’s lead and she leaped from the station wagon in anticipation of going on a new adventure.

When it comes to grocery shopping, I am very efficient.  I don’t overly enjoy the experience and I try to make it as brief as possible.  I know the layout of all the different stores at which I purchase groceries and I organize my list in such a way as to take the shortest path to complete my shopping based on the store’s configuration.  Not so with Lowe’s – at which I shop only infrequently.

I have learned from past experience that rather than wander around the store trying to find a particular item, it is more efficient to stop at customer service on the way in and ask where I might find something.  This is especially true if I have Gracie with me because she likes to browse and explore.  And while she is well-behaved, I sometimes give in to her impulses to shop ‘till she drops (or I do).

So customer service directed me to Aisle 12 where they said I would find my Simple Green refill.  Gracie and I started in that direction but en route, several Lowe’s employees stopped to admire and pet her (which she appreciates) and ask the usual question, “What kind of dog is she?”

I used to respond to that question with the one word answer, “Big.”  But I thought that was a tad impolite.  So now, I simply say, “You know I’m not completely sure.  I found her as a puppy in front of a Lane Bryant store.  I think she had gone there to buy a new ensemble.”

For some reason people seem to think that answers the question.

Gracie and I arrived at Aisle 12.  It was indeed the aisle where cleaning products of all sorts and descriptions were sitting on the shelves.  I thought, “Oh, good.  This will be easy.”  But it wasn’t.  We walked up and down the aisle but nowhere did I see a one gallon-sized Simple Green refill jug.

After three tours of Aisle 12 I threw in the towel.  I wanted to be absolutely certain that the product wasn’t there before I went back to customer service and inquired whether they had it in the store or had run out of stock.

So there we were, back at customer service.  I had brought a one quart spray bottle of Simple Green with me to show them the product I was seeking.  Meanwhile, I could tell that Gracie was getting a little bored as she had already seen what there was to see on the main store aisle all the way to Aisle 12.

The helpful young lady came from behind the desk and walked us back to Aisle 12.  Much to my relief, she also had trouble finding the product.  But then she spied it.  The container itself wasn’t visible but in the very back of a seemingly empty space on the bottom shelf there was one gallon jug left.  She got down on her hands and knees to retrieve it for me, for which I thanked her.  And the best news was that it was on sale for only $8.99.  Such a deal.

She left us to return to her post and I was preparing to pay for the Simple Green and leave – but Gracie had other ideas.  Rather than allowing me to return to the front of the store she must have realized that there was a lot of unexplored territory in this Lowe’s and she wanted to do a bit of browsing.  And as I will often humor her, I allowed her to take me on a little jaunt.

I’m not quite sure why but we ended up in the aisle that sells stepladders.  She seemed to feel that these were exceptionally interesting.  I don’t know the reason that she was fascinated with them as I have two at home and she’s never seemed overly interested in socializing with either.

But as I was standing watching her gaze at these metal contraptions I couldn’t help see the warning label which had been attached on their sides.  It said, “Danger.  Do not stand on the top step of this ladder.”  As I recall, the two ladders that I have at home also contained that warning, but I removed them.

So here’s where my confusion comes in and if any of my readers can help me out, I would truly appreciate it.

If it’s dangerous to stand on the top step of a step ladder, then why do they build a top step on the darn things in the first place?  I think we can fix this problem simply by removing the top step – and then we don’t have to worry about putting those little stickers on the ladders.

But wait – I missed something.  If we remove the top step, the second highest step would become the top step.  So we’d have to remove that as well.  And then the next and the next until there would be no steps at all – just a metal frame.

True, the step ladder would no longer have any usefulness – but at least we’d be safe.

I think it’s a plan.  The only people who I think might object work for  OSHA.  But I hear they’re working on a new sticker for screwdrivers which says, “Danger.  Ramming the pointed end of this screwdriver into your eye might result in blindness or death.”


Comments on: "THESE FOOLISH THINGS" (15)

  1. But that’s simple, habit!

    You see it didn’t used to be dangerous but, sometime around 1975 somebody somewhere fell off, and bruised his arm. So to make a long story short, after a multimillion dollar study, OSHA decided it was dangerous but, not so dangerous that they couldn’t install them anyway.

    Perfectly clear, now, isn’t it?

    And by the way my experience is that Simple Green is nearly but not quite, as effective as tap water. Hope it works better for you.

    • Okay, now I get it – more or less.

      I’m just about to try the Simple Green. Maybe your experience with it is typical and that’s why it was on sale.

      • You may be fine-I was, if I recall, trying to replace an industrial degreaser, and the pressure washer was broken. So, good luck!

      • Thanks. It’s not as though I’m trying to do anything heavy duty. I had actually thought about using a solution of baking soda and water – but I was out of baking soda. (Still have water).

      • That’s good, the water, I mean. And the baking soda solution works quite well, and is cheap as well. When it is in stock, of course.

  2. I always admire your tenacity!

    If you go no higher than the next-to-the-top step you are able at least to get a tad of support by wedging your shins on the edge of the top step. Go any higher than that and you are on your own!

    Why did you remove your warning labels?

    Very interesting

    • Thanks, Oyia for your explanation.

      As to your question about removing the warning labels – I believe there are several possible explanations:

      1) Having read them I was able to hold the information in memory and no longer needed them for insturction on the proper use of the stepladders;

      2) I have an inner bottled-up dislike for the brain-dead and anticipated that at some point in the future might sell the stepladders at a garage sale to someone meeting that description. Deprived of the instructional warning label, this might result in the transformation of one brain-dead person into a real dead person, thus making the world a better place;

      3) For the same reason that on 262 separate occasions I disregarded the advice of a friend who was a commercial airline pilot as he described his feelings about sky diving, “I see absolutely no reason why a person should jump out of a perfectly good plane – with or without a parachute;”

      4) I spent far too much of my youth watching “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.”

      Feel free to select an answer(s) of your choice.

  3. Lol!! Well deserved kudos for your diligence in pursuing the gallon refill! And, as for the ladder conundrum, I realized that you are correct about those darn stickers. To become compliant, I’m only going to use my ladders upside down, thereby the top step will no longer cause me alarm, having been relegated to the lowly depths of bottom step.

    • And you have presented yet another solution to the problem which never occurred to me. That’s why I love being on line with this blog. I learn something almost every day!

      I think, if you’re daring, you might actually follow my example and just take the silly sticker off. I don’t believe they carry the same warning which used to be displayed on the ones that were sewn into pillows, “Do not remove under penalty of law.” I could never figure those out either.

      • Now you’ve done it Juwanna. I can picture the NSA at this very moment advising OSHA of your sticker transgression (OSHA will quickly reactively address the sticker’s inadequacies) and declaring you a “non-conforming stickerist!” 🙂

      • And who says government is inefficient? There was just a knock on my front door. Sitting in a wheel chair was a trans-gendered female of multi-racial background with an Hispanic surname who showed me her identification. She was a field investigator with OSHA and informed me that her agency was aware of my subversive statements and that I needed to register both with her agency and with NSA as a “Registered Sticker Offender.”

        As I was not inclined to go with her at that precise moment, I faked a “Grand Mal” seizure and told her I would be in touch when I felt better.

      • LOL!, Gotta hand it to Uncle Sam, he is expedient when it comes to serving up tyranny. Plead the Fifth Juwanna, if it works for us like it does for them then you’re home free.

  4. I guess if they kept removing the top step eventually you would end up with two sides not held together by any step. I think Occupational Health and Safety (or what ever you call it in the US) gets a bit over the top at times. They fence off anything that could prove to be a danger and I can see them fencing off the oceans some day as you could possibly trip over a rock or get bitten by a crab. Any of those experiences would of course involve someone in a multi-million dollar law suit. I managed a large private hospital which had it’s own large dry cleaning industry in support of the hospital. One day while they had the place locked down to do maintenance someone broke in and decided to be helpful. Instead they ended up in the machinery and the hospital narrowly avoided a million dollar fine. What about the fact the person broke in? Well the door should have been stronger so it was our fault. The one who broke in enjoyed free hospital/medical service from us and fortunately didn’t sue.

    • Stories like the one you relate about your hospital positively send me around the bend. What are these bureaucrats thinking?

      I had a friend who worked in Labor Arbitration for U. S. Steel (back when U. S. Steel was a big deal). One of the people whose grievance he heard was being fired because he did not have a proper prescription for his eye glasses. The man worked in the blast furnace are of the production line so this was dangerous work and the company did not want to have anyone there who had any sort of physical handicap. Besides, it was an OSHA requirement as well as a company requirement.

      At the hearing my friend said, “You know you have been warned three times about getting the proper prescription for your glasses. What do you have to say for yourself?”

      The man said, “I know and I’ve tried to get my glasses updated. I’ve been to the optometrist three Wednesdays in a row.”

      My friend said, “Well that should be more than enough time to make a new set of glasses. What’s the problem?”

      The man said, “My optometrist is closed on Wednesdays.”

      Life in America – and I’m sure elsewhere as well.

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