I was minding my own business; it was the supermarket that called me. The message began with the report that this was an automated call and yet I managed not to hang up. It helps that it swiftly continued that they were calling in regards to a recall issued recently on certain of their bagels, rolls, bialis, and buns sold recently. We don't get bagels from them often, but we do sometimes, and had a pretty good bunch of them just this past week. You can probably imagine without difficulty just what's become of them.
What they were being recalled about was not explained; perhaps they've discovered a sort of bagel whose brakes freeze up and lead to tumbling over at highway speeds. But the message did explain that if there were no more of the affected products in the house we should not worry, and there was no further action needed on our parts. What we would do about any bagels if we still had them around I missed, partly because I thought the message would repeat and I was reporting things to my mother.
So ``the food you're eating has been recalled, but if you've finished eating it, don't worry'' joins the procession of messages I've heard which were intended to be reassuring, I suppose, without actually having a reassuring effect. I'd rate this as less effective on all counts than the Reverse Bungee manager explaining that the snapped cable broke when the bungee cage was on the ground, as it was supposed to, and it was inspected each day, and it was inspected that morning and passed. It's also less effective than the moment during the SARS crisis when for the sake of hygiene all the hawker centers temporarily switched from serving food on actual ceramic plates and silverware to paper plates and disposable plastic forks and spoons because they couldn't be certain they were cleaning the plates adequately before.
Trivia: The Spanish influenza appears to have arrived in Philadelphia with 300 sailors from Boston arriving at the Navy Yard on 7 September 1918. On the 11th nineteen sailors reported ill; the 12th, eighty-seven; and by the 15th, over six hundred sailors and marines required hospitalization. Source: The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History, John M Barry.
Currently Reading: Blood Music, Greg Bear.