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Letting Your Fingers Do the Talkin' at 1-800

March 12, 2001|GENE WEINGARTEN | WASHINGTON POST

WASHINGTON — Did you know that almost every product on the shelf of your local grocery store has an 800 number on the fine print of the package, for questions or complaints? Neither did I! So I called with some questions.

* Kleenex Tissues

Me: You know how when you sneeze and someone says, "Bless you"? What if you sneeze again? Do they have to say "bless you" again?

Evelyn: I don't think there's a standard answer.

Me: The way I look at it, after the first time, God has been put on notice.

Evelyn: I usually sneeze three times. And the people who work with me know that, so they wait till the third time, and then say it.

Me: That's the official Kleenex policy, then?

Evelyn: Sure.

*

* Charmin Toilet Paper

Me: I noticed that your toilet paper rolls all have pictures of babies on the package. Isn't this misleading advertising, since the only human beings certain never to use your product are babies?

Scott: Well, the customer feedback has been that they do like the picture, so it helps with sales.

Me: Boy, that sounds really opportunistic. I bet it would help sales if you advocate using it to toilet-paper trees.

Scott: We don't recommend that.

*

* Tums Antacid

Me: Listen, do you remember the laxative product Serutan? It was "natures" spelled backward.

Judy: I remember.

Me: Well, Tums spelled backward is "Smut." Should we be worried about that?

Judy: This is the first I've heard of it. But I am sure it is a coincidence.

Me: Tums does not have a pornography branch, does it? This is not one of those satanic corporate things, is it?

Judy: I am confident it is not.

*

* Anusol Suppositories

Me: You know how some businesses use euphemisms to describe their products? Like, you never talk about ground cow, it is always ground beef, and FiberCon talks about regularity, not constipation? Well, your company is different. You don't mince words, do you?

Maria: It's pronounced An-YOU-sall.

Me: Yeah. Well.

Maria: All I can say is, here at Pfizer, we stand behind every product.

Me: Ha-ha-ha.

Maria: What?

Me: You said "behind."

Maria: (No answer)

Me: Is this the most embarrassing product you have?

Maria: In the U.S., yes. In Canada, we have products for pinworms. Sometimes consumers feel uncomfortable talking about it. But on our end of the conversation, it's fine.

Me: Ha-ha-ha.

Maria: What?

Me: You said "end."

*

* Old Spice High Endurance Deodorant

Me: Do you think the existence of armpit odor tends to argue against the existence of God? Why would God do that to us?

Brenda: That's an unusual question.

Me: Yes. Did God make a mistake?

Brenda: I wouldn't second-guess God.

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