Saving Us from...Ourselves

David Burchett

One annual announcement is guaranteed to send me into “grumpy old man” syndrome. The Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch has just released the winners of the 10th Annual Wacky Warning Label Contest. The contest is conducted to reveal how lawsuits and concern about lawsuits, have created a need for commonsense warnings on products. This seemed like an appropriate follow-up to yesterday’s maddening story about the case of the multi-million dollar pants.

Before we unveil the winner allow us to warm up with these tributes to the obvious:

Honorable mention goes to Ronald Hyman of Augusta, Georgia for a warning he found on the cover of his local Yellow Pages book which cautions users: “Please do not use this directory while operating a moving vehicle.”

Excellent piece of advice. And because of this warning I have stopped doing my sudoku puzzle while driving on the freeway. Thanks!!!!

Third place was a tie between these warning labels:

Farrah Kakavand of Oak Park, California won a share of third place and $100 for a warning she found on a Super Lotto ticket which says, “Do not iron.”

How frustrating to have to present a rumpled winning lottery ticket! Unacceptable! Other care suggestions for your paper lottery ticket include avoiding fire and water. Solid advice.

The other third-place check went to Nancy Shue of York, Pennsylvania who found this warning label on a cell phone. The warning? “Don’t try to dry your phone in a microwave oven.”

Who would consider putting a wet electronic device into a microwave? Don’t they deserve the consequences? The same label also helpfully suggests that you should keep your cell phone away from “the ground.” Seriously. They have a little icon that suggests you shouldn’t drop your phone. Who knew?

The $250 second-place award went to Rich Heitzig of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, for a label on a personal watercraft that warns:, “Never use a lit match or open flame to check fuel level.”

Failure to heed this sage advice will definitely thin the herd. Is it really necessary to warn consumers about mixing fuel and fire?

Bob Wilkinson of Northville, Michigan won the $500 grand prize and a copy of the new book, Remove Child Before Folding, The 101 Stupidest, Silliest and Wackiest Warning Labels Ever,” by M-LAW president Bob Dorigo Jones.

The champion label was found on a washing machine at a Laundromat, and the label makes a very sound suggestion:

“Do not put any person in this washer.”

Did this actually happen? Did someone think they would emerge fluffy and springtime fresh from a gentle spin in the washing machine? Do you need to have a snorkel that sticks out of the lid to breathe? Wouldn’t the spin cycle make you barf? Could I then hop in the dryer to get dewrinkled? That would be cheaper than botox. Can you drive home after all that spinning? Should you use your Yellow Pages while operating your vehicle? Oh wait…we already learned that answer.

“This annual contest gives us a chance to tell the inside story of how our nation’s legal system has become so erratic that these types of labels are necessary,” said Jones.

“The personal injury lawyers who file the frivolous lawsuits that make outrageously obvious warning labels necessary may not be pleased that we reveal some of their secrets, but America deserves to know how the ‘sue first, ask questions later’ mentality is changing our culture and piling costs on consumers.”

So as I go into my grumpy geezer mode I will point out that if I checked my fuel level with a match it was not the fault of the manufacturer of the machine. That would be my bad. If I destroyed my wet cell phone in a microwave that makes me a moron, not a victim. Sticking a person in the washing machine should lead to a separation from the herd for a long time, not a warning.

The movement to save us from ourselves has larger consequences. You cannot post enough labels to remove the risk to life. I think one of the dangerous and maybe even unintentionally deceitful things that Christians communicate is that coming to faith in Jesus will make your life trouble free. Perhaps we should have a label with every presentation of the gospel.

       Caution – Jesus reports that “in this world you will have trouble."  (Read the small print in Mark and John)

Coming to faith does not remove the trouble from our lives. Jesus is not a money back guarantee for perfect health, unlimited prosperity, and nonstop giddiness. Trouble is a part of life. Problems either refine us or ruin us. That is where Jesus comes in.

I've told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue  to experience difficulties. But take heart! I've conquered the world.  (The Message,  John 16)

That is what I have discovered in my journey with Jesus. When life delivers the inevitable I can be assured, deeply at peace, and even unshakable. NBA star Alonzo Manning faced a career ending illness but his response was interesting. “Adversity introduces a man to himself.” I would suggest that adversity introduces a person to his faith. Does it stand up to the hard times? Real faith does. Jesus came to give us real life and to help us get through the risks that living life brings. I can testify that it works. I can also testify that life is full of trouble. Consider yourself warned.

 Dave Burchett is an Emmy Award winning television sports director, author, and Christian speaker. He is the author of When Bad Christians Happen to Good People and Bring'em Back Alive: A Healing Plan for those Wounded by the Church. You can reply by linking through