So there I was in a new office environment asking for directions to a kitchen or lounge or some sort of area in the office where I could acquire my morning cup of coffee. I soon found myself in front of a large coffee dispensing machine that would dispense for me a cup of coffee for only twenty-five cents. I then searched about for some milk to add to my coffee. My eyes finally settled on a nearby table that had the usual assortment of coffee accoutrements; stir sticks, napkins, sugar envelopes….lawyers in case you spill your hot coffee on your hand and you need some relief in the form of suing a large corporation, but no milk.
Upon closer inspection, I noticed a cylindrical container with the label “non-dairy creamer” written on the side. Plastic milk in other words.
Now this sort of misleading product labeling really gets my goat, that is, if I had a goat to get in the first place. “Non-dairy creamer” seems to me to be a self-contradictory description of what the product isn’t. Cream is definitely a product of the dairy industry. So to call this powder a “non-dairy” creamer is a contradiction in terms — like being offered a “non-cattle steak.”
When confronted with something that makes no sense at all, as a responsible journalist, it is my responsibility to comment on, and extend this non-sense to new frontiers:
Non-Stop Flight: Hah, what a joke! Unless they mean non-stop in the sense that the plane is in motion when it is not stopped somewhere between legs on a “direct” flight. I’ll never forget my “non-stop” flight from Denver, Colorado to Ottawa, Ontario via Chicago, Philadelphia and Montreal. Flighty non-sense!
Non-Stick Coating: How can a “coating” not “stick?” It has to stick to something doesn’t it? Otherwise we’d have these amorphous globs of non-stick stuff floating around not sticking to anything. Sticky non-sense!
Non-Abrasive Sandpaper: Or “paper” as it more commonly known. Rough non-sense!
Non-Binding Agreement: Will someone please tell me what the point of an agreement is if it is non-binding? Legal non-sense!
Non-Resident Citizen: A citizen is a citizen of the place where he resides, isn’t he? Demographic non-sense!
Non-Refundable Deposit: Why would anybody leave a deposit with an institution and not expect to get it back? That would be like depositing some cash in a bank account and then having the bank whittle away at your savings through a variety of incomprehensible user fees until you actually owed them more money and had to make another deposit so that the bank could continue not refunding your money in the future. Nobody would willingly submit to that would they? Would they? Fiscal non-sense!
Non-Descript Appearance: What, are you a ghost? If you’re real, you have an appearance that can be described can’t you? Transparent non-sense!
Non-Inflammable: Why does this word even exist? Everybody knows that “inflame” is derived from the old Latin phrase in flammulus, which means, “to be in flames.” So why would anybody feel that it is necessary to state the obvious by observing that something is not in a state of being in flames? Flaming non-sense!
Non-Fat French Fries: Impossible! Pure non-sense!
Non-Disclosure Agreement: If you agree to not disclose anything, how do you know if there was an ever an agreement in the first place? Confusing non-sense!
So there you have it, a responsible journalist’s view of making sense of non-sense.
Nick Burn is a freelance writer, husband, father of three, engineer, teacher, and webmaster for the Canadian Catholic Information Network. In his spare time (hah!), he enjoys camping, skiing and reading.