Trina Machacek: Let me direct you
Do these words reverberate in your ears? “If all else fails, read the directions.” They do in mine. Loudly. It’s not that we as a whole civilization know everything about everything. We just don’t want it to show that we don’t know everything about everything. Directions? We don’t need no stinking directions. It’s not until we’re done installing, assembling and building our precut pre-drilled creations and we have a few parts left over that we scratch our heads and then say, “Well, how lucky am I that I got extra parts!” I’m here to tell you that companies don’t like us enough to send extra parts just because. They send six No. 4 screws to be screwed with a No. 2 Phillips screwdriver into holes numbered 1 through 6. If you have two No. 4 screws left over? Yeah, you need to go back and read the directions.
I’m not immune to going head long into a project without so much as retrieving the nicely folded sheet of directions out of the box. Yes, the box that I ripped open like there was chocolate inside. Like so many people I know, I figure those silly directions are for someone else. Anyone but me! That’s how I ended up with my “leaning tower of video storage.” But. Yes, directions to a “but.” But not following directions is how I found that a mayonnaise cake is much better if made with Miracle Whip! So, not following directions can have a positive outcome, too. Don’t get used to it, though.
I have found that this is not a woman/man conscious decision. It’s a universal gender neutral effort. Reading the directions, I might add, is not in any way related to asking for directions. Several women just nodded their heads and shuddered with that statement. Just to be fair. Men will shudder and shake with this one. Reading directions is not the same as giving directions. Tee-hee.
Women, yes, like me, can give the best directions. We will say, “Go down two blocks and turn left at the light, go two blocks and turn left, two more blocks turn left, two more blocks, turn left and — oh, wait, that will bring you back to where you started.” But you have to admit those directions were clear, precise and easy to follow. Not like directions I once got from a guy. I was trying to find a business in a city that I was not familiar with. I actually had never been there before, which made the directions all the more impossible to follow. Here’s how he started. “Well, ma’am, just go down this street you are on and go down to where the Sonic Drive-In used to be.” Wait. What? Where the drive-in used to be? If I had never been there before, how in the world was I to know where the Sonic Drive-In used to be? I knew I was in trouble when he called me “ma’am.”
The days of giving and getting directions are becoming more and more a thing of the past with the advent of electronic maps. Oh, be still, my heart. A way to get from here to there without ever talking to a human being. Just think this doohickey could put an end to the age-old question, “Are we there yet?” Now parents can just tell the little tykes to check their phone to see where they are and how much longer they will all be cooped up inside of their rolling closet.
Back to reading directions. Nobody is infallible. It’s apparent everywhere that this is true. Trust me here. When I make an error in this column, it is pointed out to me and I happily say thanks for letting me know when I flub. But what happens when there is an error in a direction manual? The possibilities are endless. Imagine getting directions to putting together a piece of RTA (ready to assemble) furniture. What if I were told in the directions to put my No. 4 screws into the No. 8 holes and there are no No. 8 holes? Well, that absolutely explains my “leaning tower of video storage.” Yes, yes, it wasn’t me; it was the faulty directions. See, another good reason to keep the directions until whatever you’re creating is completed. Put the blame on some unknown, unseen guy in some unknown little room who writes the directions for us mere mortals. I knew there was a good use for that booklet that you can also use to learn a new language or 12. It’s kind of like getting a mini-Rosetta Stone for free, isn’t it? What a deal.
Trina lives in Eureka, Nev. Find her on Facebook, Instagram or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Really!