User Instructions and Cautionary statements

So the other day Snigdha and I was killing time on Twitter when she came up with some of these really hilarious user instructions and cautionary statements. Here are some of the best ones:

  • User instruction on a pack of tampons, “Not to be used for diarrhea
  • On an iron carton, “Do not iron the clothes which is on your body
  • On a pack of noodles, “Edible content inside, not to be used for knitting
  • And this one is my favorite, on a pack of laxatives, “Please apply for casual leave before consumption.”

It all started when I picked up a pack of eggs from Spencer’s. Not just some ordinary eggs, they were ‘tan shell cage free near organic fresh’ eggs by Keggfarms Pvt. Ltd.

I found the pack very amusing so I read every bit of information that was there on it. On the front side were the words,

tan shell cage free near organic fresh’ and ‘safe delicious bright yolks.’

On the back of the carton they had mentioned the diet of the hens that laid those eggs which basically contained “high quality maze, rice, derivatives, soya, sunflower, limestone, vitamins and other organic plant materials.”

Each egg had a security hologram affixed on it and a related message on the carton was,

Authentic Keggs have a security hologram affixed on each egg.

Somewhere it also read,

To prevent misuse destroy box after use.

The line that amused me the most though was the user instruction on the pack,

Best enjoyed as half boiled fried poached.

Now let’s apply logic, do we really need to be told how to best enjoy our eggs? And what is a tan shell, what do they mean by cage free, what would be an unsafe egg or a non delicious egg? Eggs are pretty much just eggs, No?

One doesn’t have to go back too much in time; one doesn’t have to be in her 60s to be nostalgic about how simpler life was. It wasn’t too many years ago when, back there in my ancestral home, every morning we kids used to race to the small farm we had in our backyard. The race was about ‘who would be the first to wake up and release the hens from their cage and gather the eggs they laid.’ We would crawl into their cages and pick up the freshly laid eggs covered in feathers and sometimes smeared with chicken droppings. Our mothers and aunts would then make breakfast with those eggs.

It wasn’t so long ago that my mother had a milk man who would come with a goat to our door step and milk the goat on the spot and sell it to us. (Hey don’t look at me she just wanted to be sure he ain’t mixing any water.) Today on TV, they caution you against buying milk from milkmen. It is advised that you always buy ‘unadulterated‘ milk packaged in ‘authentic’ tetra packs.

Sure development and modernization have to give way to rural life but are we becoming more and more robotic and lacking in common sense in the process? I mean to instruct how best to eat eggs on the carton, isn’t that a bit too much?

We all know it all started when a certain lady sued a certain fast food company for damages because she spilled hot coffee on her lap. Apparently the coffee should have had come with a warning that it was hot or at the least, as it was argued by the winning lawyer, that it was ‘unexpectedly’ hot.

On a pack of American Gardens microwave popcorn they write,

“Open keeping pack away from your face, hot steam inside.”

Do we actually need to be told that something we just took out of the microwave would be hot and that we got to be careful? Is this about being more intelligent or dumb? Is it not true that if we start following instructions for every little small things we would become more and more dependent on somebody else remote controlling our lives? Is it yet another not so great thing we have imported from the west? Why must everything in the world take one common path to doom? Why are the lines distinguishing culture, lifestyle, markets, academics, love all getting blurred?

Sure some of the convergences are for good, like when we import the liberalized culture and lifestyle where men and women are treated equally and homosexuals and transgenders have the same right to unison and establish families or where sex work is legal or when we discard Indian style toilets (which by the way includes the open fields and railway tracks.)

But to imitate every silly or may be not so silly but irrelevant concepts is really not needed. For example we could have lived without replicas of every TV shows that MTV produces or absolutely dumb and uncreative game shows like, ‘Are you smarter than a 5th Grader.’

Perhaps it is just a way of making urban life easier. May be it is targeting at a section of consumers who may have actually no knowledge of how an egg look like when not cooked. Remember that scene from the Hema Malini starrer “Seeta aur Geeta.”

Spoilt dude goes to sabzi mandi and asks a vendor “what is this?” pointing towards a vegetable.

Vendor answers “Baingan”

Dude reacts in surprise, “accha baingan aisa hota hai kya?”

Dude had never before seen a whole uncooked baingan because somebody always did the grocery and cooking  for him.

Whatever it is I think the day isn’t too far when we would have such user instructions and cautionary statements on box of eggs, “Edible content inside. Break shell to eat” or “Break shell carefully, content may spill.”

Possible?

Cross posted on Desicritics.

10 thoughts on “User Instructions and Cautionary statements

  1. Eggs are pretty much just eggs, No?
    Well, no.
    See, the labeling is supposed to make your life easier, if you take the care to understand what it all means.
    The tan color tells you the type of hen used for breeding (the Asian breed), Cage free/free range refers to free roaming hens as opposed to those housed in a small cage with not enough space to move, organic refers to their diet. The fresh color of yolks refers to the age of the egg – older eggs have paler yolks. Unsafe eggs refers to eggs layed by hens that were not vaccinated for salmonella.

    Not all labeling is stupid.

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  2. very possible.. Have u seen instructions on a cola bottle abroad? Hilarious. When they have stuff like ‘open cap to consume contents’ and ‘to open, turn cap to right’ on the bottle, u know they think we are retards

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  3. Funny post, and yes how to best enjoy your eggs is a bit too much. Had it been some recipe I would have still understood. But I guess, its best to treat educated people like dumbfucks than see them in court and pay heavy compensations to them because one did not mention, “Edible content inside, don’t consume the shell.” :-)

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  4. As funny and dumb as the instructions may sound … but they are necessary evil – both for consumer as well as the manufacturers (especially). Do you know in 1994 a jury in US awarded a lady $2.5 mill cause she spilled “hot” coffee on herself … she sued and her case was … McD did not mentioned it on their coffee cup that the coffee would be hot. Mind numbing … yes … true … yes.

    So like it or not … stupid labelling is here to say. And on a ligther note … I really like reading them … free entertainment. Ahahahahah

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  5. @aneesha

    I think no, we won’t feel that way about s/w user manuals…those instructions are of course required, I was talking about consumer goods.

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  6. sanjukta thanks. the post was quite interesting and thought provoking. yes some of the instructions on these various products may seem hilarious to a few but to others they may be just the requirement.

    Like I know usually everyone likes their eggs just the same way. I mean they have a very specific choice and like to eat it the same always. So, saying that the egg is best enjoyed in a certain way sounds hilarious at best. But I am a vegetarian and if I decide to start eating eggs, suppose because I am living in someplace where I don’t have too many choices. That instruction about how to best enjoy the egg will be a life saver. I can find the recipe online, but where do I look to know which recipe to choose.

    And just like you said to aneesha that those s/w manuals are a necessity. They may seem dumb to me, because I spend too much time around computers and so now, I can find my way around almost intuitively.

    Even if we forget all the above. Just like preeti proved it that those who know their way around the labeling. They can be a lot more meaningful.

    And finally even the manufacturers cannot do much about the instructions. If they keep getting fined for not labeling a cup of hot coffee, with a cautionary label that the products it contains is hot. 2.5 mil dollars, even McD has to answer to their shareholders which again are us.

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  7. I once found a guy in Hyderabad selling apples, which bore a tiny circular stamp proclaiming, ‘Ok, Tested’. Sabari of modern-day Ramayan?

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  8. Its funny to read some instructions but I feel it is necessary to have instructions. Those who know things don’t need to read them but those who don’t know about things they need instructions.
    Piyush has given a good explanation.
    I would say its best to use the instructions you feel is required and enjoy the rest :)

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  9. know the kegg farms story. they mean every word they say. for instance, when they write ‘cage free birds’ they mean ‘ the birds are not cooped inside a small cage but have a huge space (sometimes open fields) to run around’ etc. etc. trust me, they are one of the few mainline corporates who are true social entrepreneurs.

    Like

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