For your safety

Scissors by dnnya17, on Flickr

I have two small children. I may have mentioned this fact before. The first one was relatively sedate as a small toddler (the age where desire outstrips experience in such a large amount it is only challenged when said child suddenly hits puberty and then it is with a much more narrow focus, shall we say), with only occasional attempts at running towards cars, or away in parks. The second one is, to me, a demonstration that only by massive numbers and sheer bloody luck has the human race survived. There is not a button he won’t press; chair/bookcase/fuck off concrete monolith he won’t climb; sharp edge left unchallenged. He is pretty much composed of 85% bruised tissue and 15% mischievous grin (thankfully still with all his teeth).
I know what the phrase ‘I’m doing this for your safety’ means, in a very real sense.

So, I’m kind of baffled by the odd sense of ‘For your safety’ applied in IDing me to buy scissors. For one, I feel that if there is any safety regard it is actually for everyone but me in allowing me to buy sharp blades. Secondly, and here’s the thing: this actually happened to me yesterday, I was buying three pairs of SAFETY SCISSORS given to small(ish) children to cut things out. To buy these weapons of mess construction (you’ve seen what small children do when cutting out, right?) you have to be 16 or over.

I am 30. Thirty. Three zero.

Fifteen years past the cut off point (no pun intended) and I’m stood in WH Smiths in Paddington station being ID’d for buying three pairs of safety scissors, and their corroborating partners three large Pritt sticks.

The irony was not lost on me: the sharpest things involved were the exchange of words between me and the assistant asking for ID because I ‘looked young’ (or she needed glasses that could pick out the harried-mother-of-two look that doesn’t wash out no matter what two bottles I take in the shower), while I just ignored her and continued to pay for the transaction on my company credit card (that fifteen year olds clearly get in cereal packets these days – although, I guess they might in Silicon Valley.) while she made vague threats about the Transport police making checks, presumably for people carrying rogue items of stationery in odd numbers.

And where I had never considered wounding anyone with any sharp instrument in my life, I was suddenly very tempted to find out what three blunt sets could do ‘for my safety’. One to bypass the assistant, one to hack down the stationery police and another to ensure my bid for freedom was unsullied by some have-a-go hero.

“I woulda done but she had bloody safety scissors. Have you seen what them fings do to origami cranes? No chance, guv. No chance.”


  1. Foltzwerk says:

    I’m reading Beware Dangerism! and your incident is yet another example of how we (society) spend too much time and energy worrying about the wrong things.