I suppose you got the e-mail about Reynolds Wrap.
Well, then, you're among the few Amer icans who didn't Actually, you might want to check your e mail after you finish reading IBJ. It'll probably be waiting in your in-box Although I guess you really won't have to, seeing as how I'm going to go ahead and spoil the surprise.
Under a subject line full of typical Internet understatement ("OMG! THIS IS SO AMAZING! YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS!") you will find not an advertisement for Everyday Drugs At Low Internet Prices, or How To Be The Man She Wants You To Be, or I Am A Former Government Minister In Nigeria And I Have Chosen You As A Person Of Good Standing To Help Me Move Millions Of Dollars To An American Bank.
No siree. Instead, you'll get a breathless message (as much as something typed can be breathless) about how Reynolds Wrap has little tabs on the ends of the boxes so the roll of foil will stay in place when you pull on the end.
For some people, this is big news. I'm just guessing, but I'll bet the same people use a lot of Reynolds Wrap, and not just to store food. Remind me to tell you sometime about the guy downtown who used to wrap his head in aluminum foil because he was pretty sure the cops were reading his mind. He also believed that Queen Elizabeth was in charge of the FBI and the Trilateral Commission.
For some reason, no one believed him. Too bad this was before the Internet, also known as the electronic soapbox for nutballs of all varieties. He would have fit right in.
Anyway, back to the tabs.
I am skeptical by nature. I can't help it. I was a big city daily newspaper reporter (back when they had such things), and one of the duties of a big city daily newspaper reporter (if you can find one anymore) is to look at things with a jaundiced eye (although it's not necessary to contract jaundice-that's optional).
So I decided to launch an investigation. This involved getting up off my big hinder, retrieving the box of Reynolds Wrap from the kitchen cupboard, and looking at the ends.
You fold 'em in and they lock the roll in place so you can pull aluminum foil out of the box without it falling out and running all over until it looks like a sheet of shiny wallpaper.
Skepticism flew out the window and my jaundice cleared up immediately. There they were-tabs, just like in the e-mail. Of course, by opening the e-mail I probably downloaded some horrible harddrive eating virus into my computer, but that's a small price to pay for an important piece of knowledge.
Then I thought: Have these things been here all along? Have I gone my entire life without noticing? Have I been "tablivious?"
This required further investigation, in the form of e-mail to the Reynolds Wrap people, who kindly responded a few days later.
"The end locks were actually a carton enhancement that was added in 1996," wrote Lauren Acosta, Assistant Account Executive at the Chicago office of the Manning Selvage & Lee communications agency. This was an instant relief, because it meant I'd been Reynolds Wrap ignorant for only 12 years instead of the 53 I feared.
"Recently, the end locks have gained attention through the popularity of message boards on the Internet and we've received TONS of questions about them," she added. "Honestly, I never noticed them until we started getting all of the questions!"
(Then she made sure to get in a little plug reminding me that many uses for Reynolds Wrap are printed right on the carton. She's good, that Lauren Acosta.)
Well, that made me feel a little better. If the tabs slipped past Lauren Acosta, a communications professional on the Reynolds Wrap account, then maybe I wasn't hopeless after all.
So there you go. That's what you can expect, you 23 or so people in the entire United States who haven't yet looked at the Reynolds Wrap e-mail.
And as for the rest of you ... check your hard drives, but don't worry. If they're all virus-y, you can fix them with a little Reynolds Wrap. The directions are on the box. Right next to the instructions on how to make a hat that blocks the cops from reading your mind. Use two sheets to block Queen Elizabeth.
Redmond is an author, columnist and speaker, and a consultant on business writing and workplace issues. His column appears monthly. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.