Trade publications like this one are full of great information for the trade to which they cater. Sometimes all that information needs to be put in a box and left on the table for awhile so you can put your feet up and find something to tickle your brain. I like to find humor in my daily grind and so this article will be my take on “The Lighter Side of Packaging.”

Why do shippers put labels such as: “Do Not Throw,” “Do Not Crush,” “Do Not Tumble,” “Do Not Toss,” or “Do Not Mutilate” on boxes? Maybe they think that shipping companies have a special conveyor belt that takes their packages directly to a crushing, tumbling, or mutilating machine — unless of course the package has a label that prohibits it. I think I remember seeing in the Uline catalog pages 962 thru 965….. Mutilating Machines.

The label that I like to see on a box is “Do Not Tip.” Why don’t they just use a “This Side Up” or an orientation arrow label instead? I like to use this one to my advantage when I deliver a box with the “Do Not Tip” label on it. I tell the customer that the label is meant for the pickup driver and that it is perfectly acceptable to tip the delivery driver — as I hold out my hand like a luggage boy at a five star hotel.

Labeling on international packages is fun to read and interpret. Once I bought a pair of scissors and the label on the back of the package read, “Made in China, Keep Out of Children.” That would surely cut down on the emergency visits to the pediatric hospital if we were to keep scissors out of children. Whether we use Google Translate here in the USA or whether someone in another country uses another trusted translator service, there is room for error. There needs to be someone who personally checks the translation who understands both languages fluently. How does one interpret this international shipment which reads, “Do Not Bowdlerize?” The first thing that comes to my mind when I read that statement is a vision of a bulldozer-blender combo wreaking havoc on a pile of boxes. Webster’s definition of Bowdlerize: to modify by abridging, simplifying, or distorting in style or content. My guess is that they meant to say,” Do Not Drop” or “Do Not Damage.”

Proper packaging is half the battle of getting your items to your customers in perfect condition. The other half of the battle is choosing the right shipping method and/or other related services. Take for instance Johnny, who owns a pet wholesale business in California. He agreed to ship six exotic lizards to Bob, who started a pet business in his garage in central Texas. Johnny packed the lizards in a box with air holes and shipped them overnight. But Johnny made several critical mistakes for this perishable shipment. First of all, there is no morning committed overnight delivery service in Bob’s small town because his town is so far away from a major city. Second, the order was placed in July so the average temperature was in the upper 90s. Third and most deadly, the package was sent C.O.D. As you might imagine, Bob could not come up with the money until the third delivery day to pay the C.O.D. charges. Those poor lizards were in the cargo area of a delivery vehicle for three days with temperatures well above 125o. Instead of the label reading “Live Lizards” on the side of the box it should have read “Lizard Leather.” Forest Gump’s famous statement comes to mind, “Stupid is, Stupid does.”

If you have humorous things happen to you related to packaging, I would love for you to shoot me an email and tell me all about it.