Oftentimes we receive at the palatial offices of STREET RODDER letters inquiring about how one becomes a world famous automotive journalist...? It is customary for me to provide a thoughtful as well as useful answer. Well, that's usually. What I am going to tell you today is, if you were responsible for any part of the following instructions, you need not apply.
For starters, do you realize that I was once so bored that I found myself reading the instructions on a hairdryer sold by a rather large retail chain store found in every state and nearly every city. Oh yes, if you don't have one of their stores in your city they sure as heck have a mail-order catalog. On the hairdryer label was stated, "Do not use while sleeping." Seems like a reasonable enough request, but if you were sleeping how the heck would you know if you were using it much less be able to understand the logic that it took to actually include this direction on a label?
Of course, the best label packaging warning on a home appliance has to go to the iron. Its label states, "Do not iron clothes on body." I would agree that's probably a good warning.
One time I was eating a bag of corn chips and noticed there was a contest--pretty typical stuff: "You can win a car, no purchase necessary, details inside." Okay, it was very nice of them to give me the chance to win a car without even having to purchase their product...but the details were inside? How am I supposed to get to those details? Apparently, shoplifting isn't illegal in their home state?
All of us have come in from the garage after an evening of hammering away to wash our hands at the kitchen sink. I can't tell you how many times I have been "spoken to" about using the dish towel to wipe my hands, or for that matter one of our house cats--Dave or Mattie. There are any number of "no-no's" for a rodder after he or she comes indoors from a night of greasy joy. Let's assume you make it past this first etiquette faux pas only to find out that your big ol' orange container of hand soap is empty. What to do?
That happened to me once so I picked up a bar of soap and proceeded to scrub-a-dub on the hands. In the meantime, I began to read the instructions on the soap label: "Directions: Use like regular soap." Da, "Use like regular soap?" I thought I was.
Now, as a magazine guy of some 33 years in the biz I have traveled my share onboard airplanes. One time I found myself looking at the label on a package of nuts provided by the lovely stewardess when I read, "Instructions: Open packet, eat nuts" (I would have thought this to be obvious), which was superceded by, "Warning: Contains nuts." I can tell you unequivocally that the real nuts aren't inside the bag!
There have been times when I have found myself in grandpa hell by allowing one of my grandkids to perform an act, which he or she shouldn't be allowed to do. Now, I am still in trouble over the "kid under the car polishing the chrome while I am inside watching football" episode, but I have learned my lesson. However, there must be others like myself who haven't yet learned this lesson. There is a child's cold medicine on the market that has clearly written on the label: "Do not drive a car or operate machinery after taking this medication." Mind you, this isn't the adult bottle, it's a clearly marked bottle of child medication! Oh well, I guess there are other grandpas out there with babysitting records as tarnished as mine.
One last grandpa story and then I will let you get on with reading this month's issue of SRM. I once told my grandkids that if they put on their superman outfits they could fly. Well, in hindsight that may not have been a good idea, which probably explains why on some children's superman costumes there is now a warning label that states: "Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly." Oh well, I guess you live and you learn.
What does all of this have to do with street rods, custom rods, and the like? Well, not much. I just thought it was funny and that all of us could use a good laugh right about now!