August 19, 2018

Dead before the Rat User Manual


Everything comes with instructions, except children. They just seem to enter the world screaming red…or red and screaming, with fists folded and eyes shut. The only instructions there are ‘I will do this for a while, set your tolerance’. But instructions are a key part of life despite the fact that they are likely the most ignored things in life.

Shake well before use

This is the best one. The only people I’ve seen do this with medicine (and it is invariably found on medicine bottles) are doctors and people above the age of thirty. Everyone else just fetches out the spoon and takes the dose recommended. It’s only as the cure slides down your throat that you begin to think, ‘What’s that written on the side?’ and you find it in bold, enlarged font.

Shake well before use

What do you do now? Shake yourself?

Store in a cool dry place away from direct sunlight

Yes, those biscuits on the window shelf. Wonder what’s wrong with them. They taste…funny.

Some instructions are actually meant to save us from ourselves as I recently found out.

It was a warm dark night and I’m in bed snoring and drooling because…I can, it’s not illegal yet and the reason is a non-issue. Something begins clawing at the wall and gnawing at something and the noise tears me from my sleep. I peer into the corner, half hoping its nothing but it is. Two gleaming beads stare back then vanish.

I sit up and stare intently at the corner but it’s too late. The bugger is gone.The following day a ‘what if’ thought flashes in my mind and I choose to buy rat poison, I’m resolved the devil should die tonight. Shortly before bed time I choose to poison the rat by dissolving the powder in water. As usual I stuff the instructions back into the box without reading them, any idiot should be able to dissolve a powder based product in water, right.

Feeling accomplished, I jump into bed, sure the rat will be gone by morning. Later in the night I succumb to thirst and half asleep cross the house to a glass of water. I down the liquid and am about to go back to bed when a question jumps into my mind.

‘Why was that glass out?’

Then I remember, it’s the glass I mixed the rat poison in! ‘Did I rinse it?’ It was still out on the sink so I’m thinking not. Fully awake, mind racing I begin to think horrible thoughts.

I’ll die before the rat!

I rummage through the trash for the box and from it draw the instructions.

Keep away from children

I’m not a child, I’m dying.

If powder comes in contact with eyes, rinse thoroughly and…

It’s in my mouth not my eyes. I’m dying.

Store in a cool dry place…

My mouth is neither of those! I’m dying.

It is at this point that I look keenly at the box and see a smiling rat illustrated on it. Given I intended to buy rat poison that is not the picture I expect to see. I expected a rat with eyes crossed out. I turn the box around and read, actually read what is written on it. A wry smile spreads across my face.

I’ve bought cheese powder. I’m not dying.

Read instructions today, don’t die.

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