It seems that every product that one purchases these days has an explicit warning label. I am thoroughly convinced that these labels exist for a very simple reason: at least one dumbass somewhere has done what the label warns about. In our increasingly litigious society dumbasses want unsuspecting companies to pay them for their stupidity. Lawyers are all too eager to take on these frivolous causes. Even Shakespeare had a problem with lawyers, but I doubt that in medieval England people were suing tailors after ripping their pantaloons in some drunken brawl. They just rolled with it and bought new pantaloons, or maybe traded a couple of chickens for them.
This was also an era where your folks would light up some smokes in the car on a Sunday drive and tell you to keep the windows closed because they didn't want a " draft". This is also when you would learn how to drive. The old man would find some country road, stop the car and say " alright boy, drive!" He would tell you "never you mind about that there seat belt." Once you got comfortable he would tell you to stomp it just to see how fast that old Ford Galaxie would go. I'm still alive ain't I?
We do not have to sign waivers to drive fork lifts because we already know how to do it, and if we don't, we'll learn it quickly without anyone losing any limbs. We do not have to attend any safety meetings before we grind a few burrs off of some metal pieces with an angle grinder. We are also reasonably sure that motorcycles are not possessed by the devil. It all boils down to using common sense, not being a chicken-shit and not succumbing to media induced paranoia (on a side note, the media seems to enjoy portraying dudes as inept retards who would blow themselves given the chance).
Being stuck in the past does seem to have its advantages. We learned the basics that were taught us by the previous generation. Don't look directly at an arc welding flash, don't breath paint fumes, don't stick hands into moving parts and don't taunt anyone who is way bigger/ drunker than you. If we slip on a wet floor at Walmart, we are more concerned about the embarrassment of looking foolish and possibly messin' up our hair rather than thinking of contacting a lawyer.
One exception to all this seems to be rednecks. Many rednecks are endowed with excellent mechanical skills, yet use them to engage in foolish endeavors. Virtually all redneck mishaps involve some sort of motorized conveyance and is always preceded by " Hey, ya'll watch this!" It rarely ends well, but at least the rednecks don't whine about it. Like greasers they will just get more beer.
Which leaves us with the rest of society. There are many valid reasons why employers and large corporations are fearful. If you refer to the picture below, you can rest assured that Apple had a whole team of lawyers scrambling to come up with warning labels, because, yes, one idiot somewhere actually did eat an iPod shuffle. Chances are he tried to sue Apple because of it and cover the cost of gallons of Pepto-Bismol, Ex-Lax and many rolls of toilet paper. He probably tied to get compensated for the music he lost which is ironic, because it was likely all illegally downloaded.
Many companies won't let you within 50 feet of a forklift without certification, hours of safety training and 60 pages of documents to sign. The reason is obvious, more than one dumbass has driven these things right off a loading dock. They're not very fast but they do weigh ten thousand pounds. This why lawyers lose sleep. If there was a fork lift race and two of them went off the loading dock, rest assured that there were rednecks involved.
This is probably the same reason why big trucks have those beeping alarms when in reverse. To many dumbasses that were too stunned to see a truck the size of a house approaching them at 2 miles an hour.
Technology is just helping to compound the problem. You would be hard pressed to find scissors that don't have blunt edges, yet the complexity of iPhones is slowly turning us into a nation of techno-zombies. I am sure you are all familiar with the texting zombies walking down the sidewalk, head tilted down intently staring at their iPhone while furiously texting. They will usually saunter into the path of oncoming vehicles. Sometimes the drivers of those vehicles are also texting ( which I still find absolutely mind-boggling). I think that you can conjure up an image of what ensues next. As the Darwin Awards' header states: " Those who are helping to improve the gene pool by removing themselves from it."
I am no expert, but it seems to me that this all might stem from the educational system that is in place these days, which is a productof all those goddam left-wing politically correct freakos. Young 'uns are not taught to take responsibility for their own foolishness and are never admonished for being a dumb ass. This leads to lack of common sense and self-entitlement.
This is not to say that I and my peers, did not act like complete fucking retards when we were in school. There were repercussions and we knew it. I will try to avoid dating myself, but these were the days when principals roamed the hallways with a big leather strap in their pocket. If you messed up, it was gonna hurt ( only for a short time). Boys will boys however, and our biggest fear was not the roving six foot five principal, it was the daunting prospect of making a fool of yourself in front of all the girls. ( these were different times, and this particular principal retired and went on to become a children's author. A gentle soul who was caught up in the educational system).
It wasn't all discipline and foolishness. The teachers would give us glue and let us run with scissors. In wood shop, you could run power tools to your heart's content and nobody had goggles. You could smoke cigarettes in a designated area and the teachers would hang out with you and give you a smoke if you ran out. That same teacher was your neighbor and would give a ride home in his unreliable car. If not you would take public transportation on your own ( a situation just begging for a bunch of teenagers to act like complete fucking barbarians).
When we got older, a new invention came around that completely blew our minds: The cassette Walkman. Those fuckers were big and they were loud. They came with big-ass headphones and absolutely no warning labels and we, of course, cranked them to ten. People down the block could hear the high frequencies emanating from these not-so-portable ghetto blasters. This would probably explain why I still like really loud music AND WHY I SOMETIMES TALK LIKE THIS.
I still have all my fingers, toes eyeballs and one scar from an unfortunate encounter with an x-acto knife. Life is good and I don't plan on eating any iPods, climbing inside a dryer at the laundromat, sticking a curling iron into any orifices, taking a bath with a toaster, taunting lions at the zoo, or changing a fan belt while the engine is still running. This is my day off so I will go the liquor store that has wet floors, grind some metal at the shop and climb an actual ladder to get some stuff. Later I will go for a bike ride in the rain while drinking beers and not wearing a helmet. I have a little amplifier that makes my iPod twice as loud and I will crank some tunes. Best to avoid cops though, because it looks like I'm simultaneously breaking three laws. Stay safe, friends, keep an eye out for dumbasses.