The Old Coot can’t read the fine print

I did one of those stupid things the other day, a male ego thing; I jogged across the street (like a chicken getting to the other side, but slower). A driver had stopped his car and waved me across. I jogged, if you can call it that, to minimize his wait, after being so considerate. As I hopped over the curb onto the grass area between it and the sidewalk, I pivoted to signal, “Thank-you,” with a wave over my shoulder, twisting my knee and straining or spraining (I never did know the difference) the lateral collateral ligament (LCL). It took 30 minutes to hobble home, a distance equivalent to two laps around the track at the high school. 

That’s a long set-up to get to the point. Sorry. It’s not about my male ego affliction, it’s about font size, the tiny font on prescription drugs, explaining how to take the medicine and alerting the user to possible adverse reactions. The doctor prescribed a steroid regimen, a five-day, descending dosage plan: six pills the first day, then five, four, three and ending with two. Steroids have a bad rap, at least in the sports world, so I thought (for once) I’d read the information regarding drug interactions and side effects. 

I unfolded the tiny wisp of paper that lay hidden at the bottom of the pillbox. It was the size of a cigarette that had been squashed in a vise. It opened up into an 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of mumbo jumbo. The font was so small I couldn’t make it out, even with my extra strong pair of reading glasses. I had to take it outside, and look at it in bright sunlight, the equivalent of using a magnifying glass. I could read it, but just barely. The print was about one half the size of the font used in this article. This size, if it makes it through the publishing process. 

The trouble is, it’s not just the pharmaceutical companies that hide important information by making it microscopic. Our ground fault interruption (GFI) plugs in the kitchen have two buttons between the top plug and the bottom plug. One button is used to test the GFI, the other; to reset the mechanism after it trips. The font is not just tiny – it’s the same color as the surrounding material. It’s kind of important to see what you are doing, or getting into, when you use electric shock protection devices or prescription drugs. But, apparently not to the companies that produce this stuff. Our TV has the same issue, though you can’t consider this to be as critical an issue. If I misplace the remote and try to operate it from the TV set, I’m confronted with black on black, tiny font. I have to get a flashlight and a magnifying glass to turn it on and select a channel.

Who takes the most medicine? Who is more apt to stumble and splash water on a GFI plug? Who is most apt to forget where they set down the TV remote? OLD GUYS, of both sexes. We’re the ones faced with fine print. There! Now I feel better. Even my knee is returning to normal. Old coot normal, anyhow. 

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