One day someone invented the Crock-Pot, and it was a good thing. They keep stuff hot, and they’re low maintenance. Plug and serve. It’s hard to imagine church potluck dinners without them.

But they don’t always travel well. They’re a little tippy. You don’t want hot stuff sloshing around in the back of the car.

Never underestimate the power of innovation. The latest Crock-Pot to take up residence at our house is more wide than tall – less tippy – and there’s this handy strap to hold the lid in place during travel. Just a piece of cloth that fits snugly, holds the lid knob in place and has Velcro on each end to secure everything. That sounds specialized and maybe even a bit precious but, hey, when you need it, you need it.

Then I noticed these words stamped on the strap: Do not carry by lid, knob or strap.

Honestly, that’s a waste of ink, a waste of words and a waste of effort. Who for two seconds would possibly think a strip of cloth, or a lid held in place by a mere strip of cloth, would bear the weight of a fully loaded …

Oh, never mind.

But honestly, words are so hard. They take time to read and process, and obviously they don’t always work. Some lessons can only be learned – unforgettably learned – with gravity imposing its will and a Crock-Pot’s worth of molten church-dinner lava splattered all over the kitchen.

We know the drill here. Someone somewhere had or imagined a reality TV moment. Well, how was I to know that wouldn’t work, our contestant protests? This is the less evolved version of what David Letterman used to call stupid human tricks. Then the lawyers – doing their jobs, mind you – have to step in and say, look, we know this is going to sound a little weird, but hear us out. Have a seat. This will take awhile.

And here we are. Coffee is hot (one hopes), ice is cold, water makes stuff slippery. Don’t fly a kite in a thunderstorm. Don’t stick a toaster in the dishwasher. Don’t stare at the sun. We know these things, right?

But there’s what we darned well know and what we nonetheless claim to not be responsible for because we semi-plausibly claim not to have read a memo that the universe owed us. These two are often the same, but sometimes there’s just enough daylight between them for plenty of mischief, mishap and woe. It’s amazing the species has made it this far.

– Follow Jeff Fox on Twitter: @FoxEJC