If you’re in Canada and you buy a coffee to go, chances are you’ll see some fine print somewhere on the takeout cup: “Warning: Contents could be very hot” or something like that. Every time I see those words, my blood pressure rises. You don’t say! I want to shout at no one in particular. Seriously, after forking out $3.75 for that latte I’m not about to forget what’s in the cup, especially for the length of time that it remains hot. That coffee is going straight into my mouth and nowhere else. Have I spilled coffee before? Yes, I have, and yes, I’ve also burned myself in the past, and a warning in miniscule font would not have changed that outcome. I wouldn’t have suddenly thought, “Oh, right, this cup is hot, so now I’m not going to spill it accidentally.”
Canada is a fantastic place to live, don’t get me wrong. But at times I get really irritated by the layer of protective bubble wrap that’s wrapped around us Canadians. There are rules and warnings for everything, as if the entire country has to be idiot-proofed in order for any of us to survive. I resent being told that my coffee is hot because, if someone is too dense to clue into that, they obviously shouldn’t be drinking coffee. And my kids, who are at the highest risk of knocking over a cup, can’t read yet. In Italy, you won’t find warnings painted on the sides of those little white Illy cups filled with scorching espresso. No, they assume you know what you’re doing. Imagine that.
At the Bulk Barn checkout yesterday, I asked the cashier about the store’s policy on bringing in reusable containers. After all, the whole idea behind Bulk Barn is to reduce cost by reducing wasteful packaging and, ever since reading this article on reducing household waste, I’m determined to become this town’s ‘jar lady’! The cashier looked at me in horror. “Oh no, you can’t use your own jars because that’s unsanitary. If you touch the edge of your own container with our almond butter paddle, you might contaminate it. The answer is no for health risks.”
Ah, yes, the good old ‘health risks’ excuse! The fact that their own plastic containers are stacked out on the open and that my fingers may touch the rim before filling it up is irrelevant. Even though I know she was simply reiterating company policy, I felt seriously tempted to snap, “You know what’s risky for health? Plastic! The proliferation of plastic garbage filling our earth and oceans, suffocating animals and fish, leaching phthalates and who knows what else into the environment. That’s what I’m more scared of. Not someone’s fingerprints on the edge of my almond butter container.” I didn’t tell her that I’d reused all my plastic bags for that day’s shopping trip.
I bet she’d be horrified by my house – not a single antibacterial cleaner in sight. I’m more scared of the carcinogenic ingredient triclosan than having a sterilized sink, which is also why I rarely let my kids use hand sanitizer. Shocking! I get tired of being told what’s safe for my health and what’s not. I’d like to make those decisions myself and, if that means spilling hot coffee on myself, so be it. Just stop telling me what to do.