Saturday, January 28, 2012

We’ve been Dumbed Down

I parked my van outside of whatever company my middle son was working for – I know I should remember the name of the company, but to be honest I was just happy that he was employed. It was his first steady job and all I remember about it is that he called Canadians and offered them debt reduction plans because, well, Canada unlike America has done away with telemarketers from what I hear. However, even though telemarketers can’t call from within Canada, nothing stops them from calling in from without. Ah, how I wish that annoying business opportunity was illegal from the states as well.

“Yes, Mr. Cox, this is Mrs. Disturb Your Dinner from All Phone Companies and we want to sell you a plan that will ultimately screw you over.”

“Does it come with a free phone?”

“We might have something from the late ‘80s we could toss in for you.”

“Good, because I’m not Mr. Cox and he’s going to need a new phone. Oh, he’ll need a new television and computer as well.” And then I hang up.

As I was sitting there under the shade of the tree working on some future masterpiece that the girls would praise me over - or the grocery list, I can’t remember which - waiting for Chris to finish ruining some poor Canadian’s supper, I noticed a thick tree limb in front of me that was only four feet off the ground. Seriously, it would have hit me right in the chest if I had been walking. That, however, wasn’t the funny part, because really, what’s funny about a branch? No, what made me laugh was that someone had actually nailed a yellow caution sign on the limb that warned people “Caution Low Branch.” I could only stare as I wondered what idiot needed that sign, and if they did, then they deserved to run into it.

“They must not be looking up.” Then they wouldn’t see the sign and it would be the last text message they sent for awhile. How stupid does the person who installed the sign think the American people are? I know, I know, he’s just trying to avoid future lawsuits. After all, anyone can be sued for anything nowadays. I mean, where else can you order a cup of coffee and then sue the company because it’s actually hot making them forever afterward post signs that say, why yes hot coffee is indeed hot so be careful? We’re dumbing down America to protect the stupid and accident prone. I’m all for making the world a more accessible place for those with disabilities and doing what we can to adapt the world to fit their needs providing a safe environment, but stupid people need to be toughened up instead of coddled.

It’s become so bad that health departments now require restaurants to post little notices by their hand sinks that teach people how to wash their hands. I’m sorry, but if you don’t know how to wash your hands I don’t want you cooking my food. They even tell you how to do it in Spanish in case English isn’t your forte, and they’ve added diagrams in case words in general scare you.

And no one else?
To make sure that no step is left out, they start you out at the very beginning with “Turn on the hot water” and just in case the employee doesn’t comprehend the term “hot” they give you the actual temperature in two measurements: 100F or 38C. Then they map out step-by-step instructions, even listing out how many times to push the soap dispenser to receive soap – once. Of course, that’s probably just to help them save money on soap because they spent too much money on the laminated instructions. I know that it’s about money because a manager once screeched at us if we used more than two paper towels to dry our hands.

“I only need two, so I know it works.”

“You’re also a hairless human while I’m a walking carpet. Bath towels don’t completely dry me off.”

The sign even tells you how long to rinse your hands under running water as opposed to still water: twenty seconds. This is probably measured by the one push of the soap dispenser. I’m surprised they haven’t calculated how hard to have the water running while you are rinsing off for a more accurate cost saving equation.

Personally, I feel that if you don’t know how to wash your hands by the time you start school, your parents need to be slapped with a soap dispenser. This is basic hygiene and the need for signs telling us how to do it is one of the reasons I really don’t like shaking people’s hands. I don’t know if they followed the instructions or not.

The other reason I don’t like shaking hands is the “Employees Must Wash Hands” signs in public restrooms. This sign is also why I prefer buying my produce at a place that does not have a public bathroom. People see this sign and then say inwardly, “I’m not an employee, so I don’t have to wash my hands.” Then they go out and fondle the cucumbers or melons. Obviously, we have not been dumbed down enough and the sign should read, “Wash your damn hands!”

Signs such as these appear everywhere as it’s assumed that the general public is just too stupid to come out of an acid rain storm. They’re even putting them on the ceiling as the girls and I discovered while staying at a hotel in West Palm . As was laying in bed I noticed next to the fire sprinkler a sticker of a clothes hanger with a green circle around and through it. “Do not hang clothes here,” it was saying. With ample closet space was someone really trying to hang their clothes on the device that was intended to save their life? More than likely it was an emergency attempt to wash out some underwear while they were out for the night. It’s sad, but you know that sign was put up there because in some hotel somewhere someone did just that and people died because of it.

Common sense just isn’t that common anymore and we have to idiot proof our country with labels such as “Please don’t use the curling iron while taking a shower.” My father used to say, “You have to be smarter than the material you’re working with,” which may be why there are so many dumb-asses coming out of public bathrooms.

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