The Stella Awards

Ever wonder what predicates a company to slap a particular warning label on its product? Take, for example, the cautionary advice routinely found on to-go coffee cups. Seems like one should know pouring hot coffee on one’s crotch (or the crotches of others for that matter) is not a good idea and yet, the baristas at McDonald’s, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Panera and virtually every coffee vendor in business these days feel compelled to warn against this impending danger. Seems unnecessary… enter Stella Liebeck.

In 1992, then 79 year old Stella sued McDonald’s after spilling coffee onto her own lap and sustaining third degree burns. I’m not making light of poor Stella’s injuries, but c’mon, how is this McDonald’s fault? Anyway, a New Mexico court awarded Stella $2.9 million in damages. Hence the warnings and the Stella Awards.

What are the Stella Awards? They are distinctions, named for our friend Stella, conferred on actual lawsuits like hers which have the power to compel warning labels that make you scratch your head and wonder what prompted them in the first place. Anyway, if the following warnings aren’t Stella Award recipients, we at JAOD think they should be.

Instructions For Use: Do not use while sleeping.

If you’re asking yourself, who uses a blow dryer while sleeping, allow me to introduce you to Lori, a woman who indeed sleeps with her blow dryer. This is not a joke. Lori has been featured on an episode of TLC’s My Strange Addiction, and according to her, the sound of the blow dryer helps to soothe her to sleep. Unsurprisingly the habit eventually resulted in arm and chest burns. I have no idea if Lori sued Vidal Sassoon, but the warning label makes me figure someone did.

WARNING: HIGH SPIN SPEEDS… DO NOT put any person in this washer.

WARNING: WASH INSIDE OUT…REMOVE CHILD BEFORE WASHING

Whether just for the fun of it or in order to wash an article of clothing, I am curious about the sort of characters who would consider tossing someone, especially a child, into a washing machine. The types of calamities that may have predicated these warnings leaves me very unsettled.

WARNING: NOT TO BE USED FOR DRYING PETS

An urban legend began circulating circa1976 about a pet owner who attempted to dry a pet in the microwave. The pet dies (obviously) and the pet owner sues the manufacturer of the microwave for some obscene amount of money (obviously) because the microwave lacked the appropriate warning label.

Thankfully, I found zero documentation of a single lawsuit involving pets in microwaves. This makes me question the warning’s veracity, however, when I think about the people roaming the earth who compel warnings over the dangers of tossing human beings into washing machines for a spin, it’s plausible those same folks might be inclined to dry the family pet in the microwave. Better safe than sorry.

Caution: Do Not Swallow!

Short of seeming impossible, the mere idea of someone swallowing a wire clothes hanger is terrifying. I attempted to satisfy my curiosity by reaching out to the folks at Morellis Dry Cleaners via the contact form on their website. I didn’t really expect to hear back from them, but I did! It turns out they have a sense of humor. Check out the response they provided to my inquiry.

Hello Antoinette,

Thank you for the inquiry about our hanger.

Fortunately, we did not need to put the warning on it because someone thought they were a cheap lunch.

It is one of several designs that were first used about twenty years ago. Our current hanger suggests that it is not a good idea to put the end of a hanger in your eye. Another warns it should not be used as an electrical device (in other words, don’t put it in an outlet).

They all intended to make fun of the propensity for manufacturers/companies/organisations to overcompensate with disclaimers and warnings, for fear of being sued by Mr. or Mrs. Litigious.

With regards,

Tony.

Anthony Ellis
Office  317-803-2644  Ext 2
Mobile  317-557-9449
TONY@E-MORELLIS.COM
WWW.MORELLISDRYCLEANERS.COM

 

Thank heavens the warning’s not real, but it’s still a funny story worth sharing. Plus anyone with that much of a sense of humor deserves a plug. I wish I lived close enough to drop off my dry cleaning, but I don’t. Do me a favor? If you live anywhere near Northeast Indianapolis, visit Morellis for all your dry cleaning needs and tell them Antoinette from Just Another Ordinary Day sent you.

WARNING: THIS ZIPPER MAY CAUSE HARM TO YOUR PENIS, ZIP WITH CAUTION!

Finally, as unbelievable as it seems, this one is real. In fact, I actually saw this tag in a pair of blue jeans once while outlet shopping. At the time, I thought it was just another unnecessary warning. Sure, I don’t have a penis and can’t speak from personal experience, but I raised two sons and as far as I know, neither of them has ever caught his penis in his fly. At least not on my watch anyway, but then again neither of them thought it was a god idea to eat Tide Pods while in college either. [RELATED: The Real Tide Pod Challenge]  While I don’t know anyone who has sustained a Zipper-Related Penis Injury, they apparently are a thing. A serious thing.

“Nearly 2000 US males sustain a zipper-related penis injury (ZIRPI) annually, and many of these accidents require emergency surgery. A 2013 study in which data were extrapolated from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) showed that an estimated 17,616 patients presented to emergency departments with ZIRPI in the United States between 2002 and 2010. In this landmark research, the authors found that zippers are the most common cause of penile injury among men and are a close second to toilet seats among boys. Prior to this study’s publication, the literature on ZIRPI largely consisted of anecdotes or isolated case series from various medical centers.” [Wyner LM. Zipper-related penis injuries: a medical concern of modern-day men. Consultant. 2017;57(6):325-327.]

Moral of the story: if you find yourself with a ZIPR, switch to cold brew.

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