Thursday, October 18, 2007

That Can Cut Me

I was cut by a can as a child. The razor-sharp, metal top of a soup can, the kind you use a can opener to slice through. It actually cut deep enough to sever some nerves, leaving a nasty scar and a weird half-numb, tingling feeling in my pinky finger to this day, twenty-odd years later. It was my own fault, to be sure, I was probably using it as a Frisbee® or a shield for my GI Joe™ action figures, or something like that.

So I was wondering: why, in this age of litigation, has no one sued the makers of cans for not warning us they were sharp? I mean, at first we weren't warned that tobacco was addictive and harmful, that coffee could be hot enough to burn us, or that electricity and water don't mix. Then some people got hurt (OK, some got killed too), and some people sued. These warnings are ubiquitous now. Just have a look at any tobacco product, any cup designed to hold hot beverages, or the cord of any hair dryer. Surely if someone had sued a can manufacturer or a food company for not warning them, every can would sport such a cautionary statement. Why do cans get spared from people suing for their own stupidity?

It could have something to do with the fact that you need to be slightly smarter than the average animal, and more dextrous than the average three-year-old to operate a can opener. The barrier of entry is a little higher to create a dangerous object out of a can, except for maybe dropping it on your toe. But I thought, more likely, it's just an implicit acknowledgment by individuals of the fact that, hey, those things can cut you!

Then I noticed that a can with the little tab on it does have a warning: "CAUTION: SHARP EDGES" (yeah, I know, you can't see it but trust me, it's there). But so are the instructions for opening the can. I guess the other guys would blame the maker of the can opener, since it created the danger and not them. After all, apparently people used to open their cans with a hammer and chisel. That had to be a lot more dangerous.

9 comments:

The Duck said...

I think you're right about the blame being on the can opener people with that one. I'm sure the can-producing people would point to the fact that you can use the old-fashioned can openers to just punch a hole or two in the lid to get stuff out. Maybe you should just gash yourself with a can lid and see what our legal system lets you do, then report back.

angel, jr. said...

Ouch. I can't stand the thought of paper cuts.

The Egg said...

The hot beverage warnings are the ultimate of all! Duh!

cher said...

DKW- you are my new favorite. how does that feel?

Rocketstar said...

They got rid of those old pop cans that had that tear shaped pull out as well for this same reason.

World of Ribonuff said...

I cut my finger on the lid of a dog food can as a child.
My mom made me feed the dog.
Could I sue her? Ken-L-Ration? The company that made the electric opener?
In other news, a kid who was feeding my cats this summer tried to *bang* open the wrong side of the cat food can this summer, based on spray patterns and the remnants of the can. This, an honor student. (Was he trying to impress a girl?!)
Anyway, back in the old days yet, we switched partly to those break-apart dog burgers in cello wrap. I then cut my gums.
Possessing a good dose of native intelligence (whatever that ineffable thing is -?!) doesn't mean one is going to act using that intelligence.

DKW said...

Duck - I may just sue for the irreparable damage already done to my finger. Is there a statute of limitations on these things? I hope I haven't given class-action lawyers a new thought...

Angel, jr. - Ever gotten a paper cut on your tongue? Now that's painful.

Egg - I agree, although possibly not as painfully obvious as the "Risk of suffocation" warning on plastic shopping bags.

Cher - That feels great, I think!

Rocketstar - Which tear-shaped ones? I've managed to cut myself on modern soda cans, so that didn't help much, did it?

Ribo - Was he perhaps trying to open it with a hammer and chisel?

Ribonuff said...

dkw - This 15 year old reported to me and his mother (who had to take over the feeding for the day and saw the condition of the can) that after not being able to puncture the rounded bottom of the cat, he resorted to whacking it with the heavy end of the can opener.
I, also, wondered why the punctures looked so sharp and clean. If the can opener was not meant to open the rounded end then how could the punctures appear so sharp and well-defined?
The brown cat food liquid looked almost like arterial spray on our sliding glass door (glad the drapes were open!), which meant considerable force was being applied at the time of puncture.

Ribonuff said...

Oh yeah and, the mother didn't clean my sliding glass door as a courtesy because:
She is super-tidy and her house is always immaculate, even with two boys. (OCD about cleaning and organizing like my mommy dearest?)
She saw what her son had done and start freaking out about the condition my house had gotten into.
So much so that her son had to Pull her from the house - she was nearly hysterical from her anxiety - and walk her home with arm around shoulder.
When the 3 of us met up shortly after that, the mother acted most sheepish; I felt bad for her. I think she was also embarrassed that as a Most Competent woman, her son had acted incompotently (?).
Her sons have No chores that I know of; mom does everything for them. (Sounds familiar.) She is maybe now thinking that she's no longer okay with that, if it renders her sons incompotent (?)
I know I am finally getting to that point - this year I must train my 12 year old to be able to mostly run a household by myself - I had learned by that age.

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