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Human Hazards

by Stephen Lautens


June 15, 2001

Nature has it's ways to warn about dangers. Snakes hiss, dogs bark and bears growl. 

Even though we are surrounded by danger, sometimes perils in the human world are harder to recognize.

No one needs help with the easy ones - like people wearing-tee shirts that proclaim they are the world's greatest sex machine or 'I'm with stupid' when they're traveling alone. Or anyone wearing a hat made out of a tinfoil roasting pan 'to keep them from stealing my thoughts'. These are the obvious warning signs that tell you to steer clear.

Here are some more subtle warning signs you might have missed.

Movie ads that quote glowing reviews - except all of the reviews are from the Podunk Daily Shopper and other small-town newspapers you've never heard of. A couple of movie studio executives were recently disciplined for taking this practice to its logical conclusion and simply making up movie reviews. They might have got away with it too, except people became suspicious when they went too far and described the teen gross-out comedy 'The Animal' as the most inspiring film since Ben Hur.

Also be wary of any movie described as 'zany', a 'laff-fest', a 'black comedy', 'poignant', or rated by a number of handkerchiefs.

Something else that should flash a warning sign of impending danger is coming home after 'a few drinks with the boys' to find your family gathered around the dining room table with your seat empty. 

If there is a cake on the table covered in melted candles, don't even stop to think about what precious family event you missed - just run.

An eatery boasting 'home cooking' is a universal warning sign. If I wanted home cooking I'd stay home. I go out for dinner because I don't want to eat at home. Even so, after tasting the food, you have to wonder what kind of sadistic home they came from. It doesn't help that these places also usually have cooks with more hair on their backs than a German shepherd.

Beware evangelists with ridiculous hairpieces. A bad rug isn't exactly a great advertisement of someone's faith-healing powers. Don't get me wrong - I have nothing against either evangelists or bald guys. But it's hard to believe that God would give someone the power to cure cancer but not grow hair. Or at least come to him in a vision and mention that his comb-over looks ridiculous.

Recently I knew I was in real trouble myself when I called my phone company. I wasn't particularly surprised when I immediately went into voice mail after being assured that my call was important and they were suffering from the same unusually high volume of calls they seem to get every single day.

It was when I was asked to select what kind of music I wanted to listen to while on hold that my red lights started flashing. That lets you know you're going to settle in for a long wait - especially if one of the music choices is an entire opera by Wagner.

So until it's practical to wrap problem people in yellow police tape or erect hazard barriers at family barbeques, we're on our own to keep a sharp lookout for those human hazards.

© Stephen Lautens 2001

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