Friday, March 9, 2012

Still Life With Robin: Sticky Subject

by Peggy Robin

Stickers have no justification to exist. Other than small children who may collect them as little rewards for good behavior, is there anyone who likes them? The most recent example arrived on my doorstep just a few days ago, in the form of an ad for JC Penney plastered over the main headline above the fold on the Washington Post. That sticker also completely obscured the weather box in the upper right hand corner.

What is the effect of this sticky-paper ad except to further push me in the direction of giving up on home delivery and switching to the digital edition? (Well, the answer to that question is that it's hard to think of anything bad enough in the print edition to make me give it up, when the digital alternative is so poorly designed and hard to navigate.)

Stickers and labels, though, are without redeeming qualities. There has to be a way to slap information onto a publication without killing the cover. So many New Yorker covers have been completely ruined by the subscription label, or rather, by my attempts to peel the label off without tearing a hole in the cover art. Other magazines simply print the subscriber's name and address right onto the cover, whiting out a rectangle of the cover's design. It's enough to make me think seriously about buying certain magazines only on news stand. (And I applaud those magazines --National Geographic is a fine example-- that place the subscription label on top of a removable outer wrapper, leaving the cover art untouched.)

Then there are the stickers that contractors and other service providers leave behind unasked, after they’ve fixed something in my house. I don’t mind so much finding a sticker  with the repair company’s name and number plastered onto a part of the furnace that has just been made to work; my furnace wasn’t pretty to begin with, and besides, it's in the utility room. I don’t mind so much having it on the water heater, either. I was starting to get a little resentful, however, when I found one on the front of the dryer. And couldn’t get it off without leaving a big patch of glue behind, so now it has a corner curled up and that’s even more annoying. The worst was when a guy came out to fix a piece of exercise equipment and left the repair company’s label in a position where I have to look at it every time I use that equipment. I am never calling that company again.

You’d think there would be ways to mark things digitally, with a tiny square, readable by a digital reader, no need for these big, hard-to-remove, opaque patches. Why do the registration stickers in windshields of our cars need to take up so much real estate? And what engineering genius decided they should go on the driver’s side in the lower corner? Why do some many places that issue parking registration stickers compel you to put them in the center of your windshield, or worse, require you to obscure some part of your back window? We’ve had Q-code boxes for years now. They could be semi-transparent and also at the top of the glass, not down at the bottom. It's an obvious solution to a problem from an earlier century.

Still, the stickers I hate above all are not informational, they’re not advertising, and they’re not a form of registration. They’re just annoying and sometimes destructive as well. I’m talking about stickers on new glassware. In most cases, they’re not even price stickers -- just stock numbers. You can’t peel them off. Sometimes you can’t even soak them off. They are welded on with industrial strength glue. The residue persists through dishwasher cycle after cycle. They even resist Goop-off, which just smears them over a larger area of the glass. If I’ve saved the receipt, I suppose I can always bring the glassware back to the store and demand my money back.

Perhaps that's what I should have done with that sticker-defaced copy of the Post!


Still Life With Robin is published on Fridays on The Cleveland Park Listserv and All Life Is Local.

1 comment:

  1. You didn't even mention the ID stickers issued at some places (for example when visiting a hospital) that are so sticky you have a permanent spot of glue on your shirt...