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The Hidden Meanings of 12 Everyday Objects

The little pocket on your jeans. The little hole in your pen cap. They’re not just there for show.

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gasAli Blumenthal for Reader's Digest

The Arrow Next to Your Gas Symbol

That little arrow on your gas meter that points left or right tells you which side of the car your gas cap is on. Pretty handy, right? Nearly every car sold in the United States now comes equipped with this useful guide so you’ll never be stumped at the pump again.

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tagsAli Blumenthal for Reader's Digest

The Tag Color on Your Store-Bought Bread

The plastic bread clip on your bread does more than keep your bread fresh, the color of the clip tells grocers what day of the week the bread was shipped. Bread is usually delivered fresh to stores five days a week — Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday — and each day has its own colored tag or twist tie. Though some companies use their own system, this common code is easy to remember: Just as the days of the week proceed in order from Monday to Saturday, their corresponding colors proceed in alphabetical order — blue, green, red, white, yellow.

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jeansAli Blumenthal/

That Tiny Pocket on Your Blue Jeans

That tiny pocket on your jeans that seems useless, is actually for a pocket watch. Although smart watches are a lot more popular these days, pocket watches were a typical possession in the late 1800s when jeans were gaining in popularity. Typically, watches were carried on chains and worn in waistcoats, but hard field labor made that a lot less practical. Outdoors, the “watch pocket” on any pair of jeans did just the trick. “This extra pouch has served many functions, evident in its many titles,” the Levi Strauss website says, “Frontier pocket, coin pocket, match pocket, and ticket pocket, to name a few.”

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penVladyslav Lehir/Shutterstock

The Hole in Your Pen Cap

Believe it or not, that little hole in your pen cap is there to prevent choking. BIC first added the tiny punctures in the top of their pen caps in 1991 both to equalize pressure inside the pen, and to give cap swallowers a last-ditch lifeline. If a cap gets lodged in someone’s throat, they will still be able to breath through the hole.

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pincushionAli Blumenthal for Reader's Digest

That Little Strawberry Attached to Your Pincushion

If you have a traditional pincushion like this one, you might notice a little strawberry attached with a string. This little guy is actually an emery board for your needles. Filled with tough emery sand — a combination of aluminum and iron oxides — the strawberry is historically a tool for polishing, sharpening, and removing rust from your pins and needles.

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FoilAli Blumenthal/

The Perforations on the Sides of Your Aluminum Wrap Container

The small perforated tabs on either side of the aluminum wrap container are called end locks and, when pushed in, are meant to keep your roll secure inside the box. Many similar kitchen products, such as plastic wrap, come equipped with the same feature so you’ll never rip the whole roll out of the box when you want just a single piece.

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elevatorChatchai Kritsetsakul/Shutterstock

The Tiny Hole Outside an Elevator

Have you ever noticed that tiny hole on the outside of an elevator? It’s is not a secret spyglass (sorry, kids) — it is a keyhole so authorized personnel can perform maintenance on the elevator. They insert an odd looking tool called an elevator drop key to open up the doors.

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planeBLUR LIFE 1975/Shutterstock

The Tiny Hole On Airplane Windows

Don’t worry, that tiny on hole on the airplane window is supposed to be there. It helps stabilize the air pressure when you’re flying high above the clouds. If you look carefully, airplane windows have three layers. The outside window feels the effects from the drop in air pressure, the middle layer with the hole balances it, and the inside window layer (the one closest to you) protects the middle window, ultimately protecting you as you jet set.

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tissuessommai damrongpanich/Shutterstock

The Real Reason Kleenex Tissues Were Invented

Kleenex tissues were not originally invented to help with runny noses, they were made to use in gas masks! During World War I, there was a cotton shortage and the thin crepe tissue was created to use as gas mask filters. (Find out how to choose the right dust mask.)

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The Dot On the Back of your iPhone Next to the Camera

That tiny dot next to your camera is actually the microphone for your back camera. When you’re on a phone call with someone and your voice sounds muffled, you should check to make sure that rear microphone isn’t covered or dirty.

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The Indent on the Bottom of Your Wine Bottle

That pop-out at the bottom of a wine bottle is called a punt. The punt makes the wine bottles stronger when the pressure is put in by the cork. That way, your after-hours drink doesn’t explode all over the place. It’s also a handy way for servers to hold onto the bottle while they pour the wine into your glass. Here are 10 ways to open wine without a corkscrew.

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keyboardHemin Xylan/Shutterstock

The Ridges on the F and J Letters of the Keyboard

If you look closely at your keyboard, there are little ridge on the F and J letters. These help people remember where to align their index fingers while typing on “QWERTY” keyboards. Knowing where to place your index fingers will give you a natural place for your other fingers, and help you type faster. The ridges make it easier for you to feel your way around the keyboard without constantly looking down. Check out these tech products you need while working from home.