Adding insult to intelligence


By Les Linz

I like a good value as much as the next person, and like that person, I don’t like my intelligence insulted.

To paraphrase the Honorable Judge Judith Sheindlin, “Don’t make water on my leg and tell me it’s raining.”

Years ago, I bought what I thought to be a valuable product. Turned out, it was.

Walmart had their pulse oximeters on sale, so I snatched one up (Ollie’s currently offers a like brand-name device, including batteries, at around $15).

Pulse oximeters painlessly measure the degree of oxygen saturation in your blood by clipping onto the end of a digit, and as a bonus, measure your pulse rate, too. Under the counsel of a medical professional, these metrics can help the two of you make quality decisions about your health care.

So what is it about the device I got from the “Live Better” store that bugs me? It’s the marketer’s attempt to make the product a greater value than it already is.

How do they do that? With catchy illuminated verbiage that shows up at just the right time. Are you ready? Drumroll please…“FINGER IS OUT”

Are you kidding me? Finger is out? How do you argue with that logic? Does the manufacturer think I am so dense that I don’t know when I’ve retracted my finger from the unit?

I suppose it’s a good thing they have it there because otherwise, I might wear it the rest of the day, sleep in it overnight and have a horrible time brushing my teeth in the morning, and flossing is definitely out of the question.

In fairness, producers of these tiny medical “assistants” are not the only ones using mind-numbing verbiage to advertise so-called “extra value.”

I love shopping at Aldi. I am grateful for their vast gluten-free selection, quality and competitive pricing. They have some fantastic gluten-free pizza items at the back of the store in the refrigerators. They also have a smaller pizza product with a different type of crust in their vertical freezer.

Before I knew about the back-of-the-store refrigerators, I was accustomed to buying their small pizza, which sold at the time for $4.99. After awhile, the price went up about 5%, and the pizza got smaller.

OK, I get it, costs go up, and value suffers, but once I got over the sticker shock, I could not believe what I saw, in giant, colorful lettering on the carton: “LOOK. NEW BOX!”

My reaction was, “Look. Same old pizza, but smaller with a higher price!”

Sorry, I am not in love with cardboard. If I was, I could see the excitement.

And speaking of sticker shock, in order to make the value of automobiles look bigger than they are, Detroit added a feature back in the early ’70s. When appropriate, a light comes on and a bell dings (Or more often than not, a non-Siri voice comes on and tells you “The door is ajar”).

I feel so sorry for jars. They are probably the most confused glass products out there. And what about doors? Now they probably think they’re name is Mason.

In preparation for this column, I went on over to the Poynter GM dealership to look at MSRP pages for vehicles, like those I used to see. There was a time where the manufacturer would have every “option” listed, show how much it was worth and next to it post those two glorious letters “NC” for “no charge.”

Alas, they don’t do that anymore. They still list the items but in one massive listing and give a package price, so if you want to bring the price down, they can say that so and so is worth so much. Who could argue? (Note: Poynter was very accommodating and friendly).

Even though I didn’t find what I was looking for, I did find that a new pickup truck can easily cost a couple of thousand dollars more than I paid for my first three-bedroom suburban Chicago house in 1987. Gives new meaning to the term “mobile home.”

If you are a regular reader of this column, you may remember one that appeared on Sept. 17, 2020, entitled, “Safety Labels (aka Fixing Stupid).” It focused on the dumb verbiage that appears on labels to this day, though what makes it that way is the action taken by at least one person and not necessarily something done proactively by the product’s maker.

For example, who would have ever thought that the coffee contained within a Styrofoam cup is hot? Secondarily, will having a warning label on it prevent us from spilling it between our legs? If it will, we should likewise have warning labels on cars telling us they may cause accidents.

But some labels are actually helpful, or at least have been since 1982 when Inspector 12 came onto the scene.

A sexagenarian grey-headed grandma sort that stretched, poked and prodded Hanes men’s underwear briefs to within an inch of their lives because after all, they weren’t allowed to “call them Hanes” until she said so.

The question set before us begs an answer: Who will rescue us from that which insults our collective intelligence?

The union-ILGWU (and others). We close with the words to their iconic television commercial from 1981: ( “Look for the union label when you are buying that coat, dress or blouse.”

Remember somewhere our union’s sewing, our wages going to feed the kids and run the house. We work hard, but who’s complaining? Thanks to the ILG, we’re paying our way. So always look for the union label. It says we’re able to make it in the USA.

Les Linz of Seymour writes the “Humor: More or Les” column. For information about Linz, visit his author page. Send comments to [email protected].

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