On Warnings

I feel that the word warning is grossly overused.  The other day I was at the Roff School Tavern (a local watering hole with an amazing 75 beers to choose from) and while I was using the restroom facilities, I noticed that on the paper towel dispenser was the word “WARNING” in big, bold, orange letters.  I don’t know about everyone else, however, when I see “WARNING” in big, bold, orange letters, I’m ready to make a break for it.  Maybe there’s a poisonous snake inside of that brand of paper towel dispensers.  Maybe there’s a bomb attached to it.  Maybe there’s a deranged knife-wielding, masked serial killer in the bathroom stall waiting to stab me in the neck while I pee.  All of those scenarios flashed through my head when I saw that bright word, “WARNING”.

All things that require a warning.

So, intrigued and somewhat concerned, I read on.


“If paper towels become stuck, turn emergency knob.”

I couldn’t believe that’s what that paper towel dispenser had to warn me about.  That shouldn’t be classified as a warning.  A warning is an omen of impending danger.  Warning implies some kind of imminent doom.  There’s nothing dangerous threatening me if my paper towel gets stuck.  What’s the worst case scenario?  I mean, even if my hands were sopping wet and I couldn’t stand wet hands, I could still shake them dry.  Or go use the sister-dispenser in the bathroom and dry my hands with toilet paper.  I could go back out to the bar, tell the bartender that the dispenser is broken and ask for a towel.  If I were desperate for dry hands immediately, I could even resort to using the absorbent fabric of my slacks.  I know, I know.  I’m approaching territory that might warrant a warning with that suggestion.  “Oh, no!  My paper towel’s stuck!  I have to dry my hands… ON MY PANT LEGS!”

I am a big fan of the Roff School Tavern after my first visit.  However, if they don’t reevaluate how they cavalierly use warnings around that place, they’re going to be in big trouble when a knife-wielding serial killer enters their establishment.


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