"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Friday, April 17, 2009

Just call me a ShredHead

I've started cleaning the house in preparation for my book launch party for Freezer Burn.

"But Gayle," I hear you say, "Your book launch isn't until July 19th. It's only April. And the party is at the Backs Community Building."

All true, friends. But after the book launch, I'd like to have my friends and family back at the house for food, drinks, and fun. And my house is in no shape to entertain. Trust me, I need a running start.

Oh, I can get the communal areas clean. We have a nice-sized living room-kitchen-family room arrangement that I can whip into shape within a day, when pressed. It's hard to keep it spic-and-span all the time because I live with a cat and dog who run through the house picking their fur out and tossing it on the carpet, and a son and husband who run through the house taking their shoes and clothes off and tossing them... well, you get the picture.
I either clean all day, every day, or I write. What would you want me to do?

But there are a couple of rooms I haven't tackled in awhile. They are spare bedrooms, one for guests, and one that pretends to be an office, with a desk and a daybed. They are also the reason for how I clean the other rooms - all the extra "stuff" goes into those two rooms. And then I shut the doors.

I could just do that again for July, but I'm tired of boarding up rooms. I feel like Mrs. Danvers. ("NOT IN THERE! THAT'S REBECCA'S ROOM!")

On Tuesday, I opened the door to the office and forced myself to look around. After the dizziness passed, I took all of the boxes and bags of papers out of the room and sat in front of the TV, sorting. Sooner or later, I had a tall kitchen can bag full of trash, one stack of significant documents, and an Old Navy bag of items to be shredded. I dragged the shredder out of the office, plugged it in and stuck in a receipt.

Nothing. No shredding, no noise, nada. It was a dead shredder.

I tried to fix it. I stuck a knife into the slot (yes, I unplugged it, Mom) and tried to loosen the wads of chewed up paper clogging the machine, but I couldn't. I suppose if I had the right screwdriver and could unscrew the top of the motor, I could expose the blades and clean them off.

Screw that. I went out and bought a new one. It's black and silver and shiny and I love it so. It has a special light to tell you when the bin is full, and another one to tell you when you've worked it too hard and it has to cool off. It also has a little row of pictures to warn me of things I'm not supposed to do. These I understand:

Don't feed paperclips or your fingers to the shredder. That's an easy request.

Then it gets a little more difficult.

I can understand not sticking your tie into the shredder, unless it's your boss' tie and he's wearing it (I'm sorry, did I say that out loud?) but what's with the aerosol can? Surely, no one would try to shred a spray can. Are they saying not to try to oil the shredder? Or perhaps they're warning us about the effects of aerosols on the environment?

This one is marginally tougher:

It's either don't put your head in here (no matter how drunk you are), don't shred your hair, or don't feed your scrunchy to the shredder. All of which are good rules.

This one, however, has me stumped:

Pardon my French, but Holy Merde. Don't shred your baby? Don't allow your child to sit on the shredder, don't shred diapers, not to be used as a car seat, I don't know. Whatever it means, I'm just glad my only child is 16 and I don't have to try to figure out what this is warning me about. Maybe it's just a general warning: Don't have kids. (Just joking - our son's such a good kid, we're going to renew his contract next year.)

Here's the thing: if I point these pictures out to hubby Dale and ask, what do you think it means, he won't laugh. He'll just say, "I'm sure somebody tried to stuff an aerosol spray can down a shredder so they're required by law to tell everyone not to do it."

You see, I know my husband. I was once reading the instructions to my curling iron. In very bold letters, it read, "WARNING: Do Not Use While Sleeping." I'm sorry - how do you use a curling iron while sleeping? The whole process is: wind a slice of hair, wait 30 seconds, unwind. Repeat with another slice. Can you really sleep through that?

I read that to my husband, who replied, very matter-of-factly, "You know someone has tried it."

What bizarro instructions have you encountered on your appliances, small or large? I'd love to hear them.


L.J. Sellers said...

Thank you so much for making me laugh out loud! Great blog.
—Write First, Clean Later

ireneintheworld said...

yes, great post. i'll pop in again. x

Diana Black said...



Nick Valentino said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nick Valentino said...

Wonderful blog! My favorite was "Don't try to shred the baby". If they have to tell you that, they might as well, say don't shred the couch, or don't shred the dog. Hahaha Thanks for the giggles!


Teresa M Burrell said...

Great post, Gayle, very entertaining. I'm still laughing.

Marti said...

Great article, Gayle! SO glad I was finally able to get your Humor Writers link to work! Best wishes to you - loved the ponytail and baby warnings!

Helen said...

Maybe the aerosol can picture is telling you not to try to spray Pam on a not-working shredder. I dunno.

Those signs are hilarious. But I think your husband is right. The company is trying to protect themselves from a lawsuit.

Really funny post.


Charlotte Phillips, Co-Author of The Eva Baum Detective Series said...


My iron came with instructions to not iron clothes while wearing them. I'm sure the person responsible for the rest of us receiving this important instruction was in a hurry. It couldn't be helped.

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