Mind Orts from Marj #6: The Right Direction

By Guest Contributor December 1, 2015 15:50

confusing instructionsThe Right Direction

by Marj Stuart

I don’t remember seeing instructions
on anything when I was a kid. A quick
search for a handle or an off/on button was
enough to figure out how whatever it was
worked. If it came in a cardboard box,
even a six-year-old could tear it open with
her bare hands, no matter where she
started.  Ditto if it was wrapped in plastic.

What triggered my reminiscing
about this was a bookmark my daughter
bought me for my birthday.  I broke two
fingernails and scraped a knuckle opening
the package it came in and looked at it
closely. It seemed simple enough, a narrow
ribbon with a heavy metal clip at one end.

I opened my book to the last page
I’d read, removed my old-fashioned
bookmark and slid the clip over the top of
the page. The thick metal kept the book
from completely closing. While struggling to
remove the clip, I tore the page. Repeated
attempts to attach it elsewhere only
resulted in losing my place in the book.

Unable to accept such ignominious
failure, I checked the wastebasket for the
cardboard that originally surrounded the
bookmark, and then the garbage can
already at the curb. After five minutes of
pawing through assorted trash, I managed
to find all five of the pieces I’d torn it into
while freeing the bookmark originally.

Printed on the back in very small
type were two lines of instructions on how
to place the bookmark, obviously written
by a non-native English speaker. It took
three tries to install the bookmark at a
random spot in the book, my only choice
after losing track of what I’d already read.

The next morning I woke from a
nightmare. I had received a bulky package
from UPS, which I set on the table. “I told
you so” was stamped in bright red letters
on what I thought was the top. I turned it
over and the message on the other end,
which was oozing some sticky substance,
said “THIS END UP.” Do we need to
simplify our lives or just learn how to write
more cogent instructions?          

By Guest Contributor December 1, 2015 15:50
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