Basic Taunting

We ordered circle batteries for our scale from Amazon Basics. The packaging warns you to keep these batteries out of the reach of children due to the batteries’ choking hazard size. The front of the packaging, however, takes keeping away a step further and depicts an adult silhouette figure holding something just out of reach of a child silhouette figure. The child silhouette figure appears to be swiping at the package, whiffing as it grasps only air. 

Beyond their label, then, Amazon Basics wants you to leave the realm of basic physical products and enter the world of basic taunting. 

Here’s a scene from a role-playing workshop that Amazon Basics marketing and safety personnel put on while developing this packaging.

* * *

Amazon Parent 1: To ensure I can keep track of my weight, I’ve purchased circle batteries for my bathroom scale from Amazon Basics.

Amazon Child 1: Those look like SweetTarts. Can I eat them?

Amazon Parent 1: I won’t say no. I’ll instead analyze your height (hmm, about 50”), consider my height (about 6’), and then calculate how high above you I need to hold these so you can’t reach them.

Amazon Child 1: Those silver, metallic discs look delicious, but if I can’t ever reach them, wouldn’t it make more sense to place an outright prohibition on my touching them, so as not to confuse me should, I don’t know, you grow tired of holding them above your head?

Amazon Parent 1: Actually, I think holding the batteries just out of reach serves as a motivator?

Amazon Child 1: How so?

Amazon Parent 1: As you age, you’ll grow in both knowledge and height. The highly-held batteries will serve as a constant reminder of what you can have someday if you are patient. Once you reach a height sufficient to grab the batteries, you’ll have your desires fulfilled and you’ll have the knowledge of how to properly use the batteries.

Amazon Child 1: Wouldn’t my acquisition of knowledge of how to properly use batteries happen anyway, without having them in my field of vision, and without constant taunting?

Amazon Parent 1: That is dangerous brand disloyalty talking. [Off-script: We need to get this guy out of here. He’s not Amazon committed.]

Amazon Child 1: [Off-script: I’m just following the flow of the conversation. What do you want from me? To blindly circle back to an answer that sets up Amazon Basics products as the solution to all my problems?]

All Other Production Staff: [Off-script: YES!]

* * *

Amazon Parent 2: Do you want good things out of life?

Amazon Child 2: Yes.

Amazon Parent 2: Are you willing to wait for them?

Amazon Child 2: Define “wait.” 

Amazon Parent 2: I’m asking questions and I expect answers, not commands. 

Amazon Child 2: This seems to be a philosophical discussion of sorts. I need to know the rules of the game so I can engineer the best result. If you hold all the power, of what use is my continued participation?

Amazon Parent 2: [Off-script: This guy isn’t following the script. I thought all conversational roads led to the child agreeing that Amazon Basics products were the best and that parental taunting in support of Amazon Basics products was accepted. How can we get to that ideal if this guy keeps going off script?]

Amazon Child 2: [Off-script: Dude, chill. I am an actual child of an Amazon employee. Not an actor. I was just looking for the craft service table and a place to plug in my iPhone.]

* * *

Despite the abject failures of the role-playing scenes, Amazon Basics managers elected to press forward with the adult-taunting-child imagery on product packaging. Thank God for that. A few unsuccessful conversational trials won’t dissuade me from exercising object holding that could shift the balance of power in my household. I always take my unfettered authority from packaging design. 

If you’re a parent who was ever the victim of a Keep Away game, you get me. I wouldn’t have thought that the key to child-parent deference would come in the form of a simple silhouette.

There are advantages to being a blank, dark outline of the real thing. 

Parents get the first deal at this Blackjack table. 

Little Meth Lab on the Back 40

I told a colleague that you could buy 12 acres in rural Iowa, plus a private lake, forest, and a decent house for $325K. He mentioned something about using all the extra savings to catch the backwoods economic wave in Iowa and start up a meth lab operation. This colleague has lived his whole life in Oregon. Knows next to nothing about Iowa.

I could get offended. I was born in Iowa. My family still lives in Iowa. Iowa has a huge tech presence in Des Moines. Outsiders who’ve never visited are generally ignorant about how modern Iowa is. But mainstream Iowa doesn’t make the humor ground fertile. So instead of getting offended, I’m going to get funny. Imagine an Iowa in which meth labs are legal to the same extent as, say, marijuana in Oregon. Throw the hyperbole switch.

* * *

Voiceover: Iowa. Fields of Opportunities. Balanced budgets. Happy, affluent urban cores. Near the top of the nation high school graduation rates. If you thought living in Iowa was a sure-fire path to career success, you’d be right. But if you thought school was the only way to make money, you’d be wrong.

Deirdre: I was so happy the day my permit was approved. We’ve had an old RV sitting in our backyard, collecting dust, spiders, and the occasional transient passing through on the Burlington Northern line. They were nice folks, told us all about alternative ways to dispose of urine, the latest in train-hopping techniques, as well as the best way to falsify disability claims if you, you know, ever miss the train jump. But all those stories, nice as they are, don’t pay the bills. Meth does.

Bobby 7: Never thought of myself as the pohlitical type, at least not the type to get ‘volved in an’thing at the state legislature. But when that meth legalization bill come down, I knewd I had to get me involved, and right there quick. … All them sores on peoples’ faces? Ah, hell, they’s got studies out that just prove right quick that them’s the result of excess sugar c’sumption, not meth. Meth’s as safe as milk, but more profitable. Hard to take them there cows on the road witchoo. They stank up that there place right quick. But your meth-mobile (‘nything with four wheels), that can make you profits on the go. … Bobby 7? Oh, why I’m the seventh boy in my family named Bobby. … Was my mother on meth? Well, of course, but she also ate a lot o’ sugar, so we all knows the reason for that there stuck key on the naming cohnvention, don’t we?

Voiceover: If the economists’ reports coming out of the state capital can be trusted, income inequality will soon be on its way out, as the bill to legalize methamphetamine production and distribution, which just passed the legislature today, was deliberately lacking a regulatory framework.

Senator Walter: There’s the traditional path, going through school, degrees, offices, and the like. But not everyone can do that or wants to do that. But everybody can mix chemicals and drive around. Who do you see when you drive around? People. Ready customers. I think we did a great public service here today.

Representative White: Senator Walter said it all, but I’ll add that there’s never been a great economic equalizer like the methamphetamine bill. This will be the highlight of my legacy.

Senator Gus: With more methamphetamine on the street, kids will have a choice between something that gives you real energy and those dastardly sugar products that make you crash 15 minutes later. The meth high goes long.

Representative Fring: Couldn’t agree more with Senator Gus. Candy is hard to eat with only half a face, but meth–huh, ho!–straight in the vein. Maximum delivery options and convenience.

Senator Pinkman: Yeah! Politics, Bitch!

* * *

Ridiculous, right? I hope you can all be good sports and see the humor in this ultra-hyperbole. It’s what we do here at the Family Farce. But it does make me wonder: I ate some bread today. It had gluten in it. How long until the mundane becomes the monstrous? The illicit the indispensable? Time can do weird things to the sensibilities of the populace.

But until that day the states go Breaking Bad, pass the wheat.

Hold the meth.