Dear Dr. Boli: A while ago I bought a printer cartridge, and it came with a little piece of plastic over it that said “REMOVE.” So I pulled it off and left it in the box. But it sat there in the box, still saying “REMOVE.” So I removed it from the box and set it on the desk. It just sat there on the desk, saying “REMOVE.” So I removed it from the desk and tossed it in the trash can. But it was still sitting there on top of the trash, saying “REMOVE.” So I took it out of the trash and put it on the windowsill, where it sat, mocking me, saying “REMOVE” in white block capitals.

I am a shell of a man, Dr. Boli. I have removed this thing from the windowsill, from my dresser, from the kitchen table, from the top of the refrigerator, from the bathroom sink, from the porch swing, from the dashboard of my car—wherever I put it, it sits there, mocking me with its simple gothic type! Anything is better than this agony! Anything is more tolerable than this derision! I feel that I must scream or die!

So, anyway, what do you suggest?

—Sincerely, A Puzzled Consumer.

Dear Sir: The only way to break the curse is to lay the object on your neighbor’s porch. It then becomes your neighbor’s duty to remove it, and how he deals with the problem is his own business—unless, of course, he ends up leaving it on your porch. In that case, it may help to remember that a certain quantity of explosives might be trusted to vaporize the object, fulfilling your obligations to the printed directions on it by removing it permanently from the material universe.


  1. cs says:

    I regret to say that blowing it up does not remove it, but only rearranges its microscopic pieces. And the word REMOVE remains, but has only been rendered unintelligible by scrambling.

  2. ? says:

    It reminds me of an impossible to get-rid-of bottle of wine called “Cafe con Vino”. What an albatross that was. It took the equivalent of several boy scouts to rid the world of that fiendish item.

  3. Dr. Bjorn Bjornson says:

    I have a tag on a mattress that states “Do not remove under penalty of law.” Last April, I removed it. Police took me into custody and I am just getting out of jail today. Caveat emptor.

  4. Lars Walker says:

    I believe the metaphysical solution to this conundrum is to place the “REMOVE” tab, along with a “DO NOT REMOVE UNDER PENALTY OF LAW” tag, and place them both (with great care) in a heavy-duty zip lock bag (freezer bag recommended). Then bury the bag carefully in a remote place. In silence. Under the dark of the moon.

    There are private firms which will carry out this delicate operation for a reasonable fee. Consult your local yellow pages.

  5. Dr. Boli says:

    Alternatively—and Dr. Boli is simply amazed that he did not think of this solution at once—one could solve the problem with an ordinary white china marker, by adding the letter D to the end of the word.

  6. Lars Walker says:

    Alternatively, using a household marker, one could black out the first letter as well as the final two letters. Then it becomes an “EMO” tab, which everyone will be eager to be rid of.

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