Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Read the Directions

I know we are guys and we can change if we have to, but most of us don't want to, especially when it comes to putting together those Christmas gifts marked "Some Assembly Required." Now I'm not saying the directions are too complicated. After all, I do have a college degree. It just seems to me happier times would be had if all the directions were presented in an easy-to-see, simplified version, with lots of pictures -- not clumsily drawn illustrations. I'm thinking along the lines of the one-page directions that come with electronic products. You know -- those "Quick Guide" ones. When it comes down to it, all we need to know is how many pieces get screwed together, with what screws, and where do we put the batteries. A few color pictures with some arrows marked "Step 1," Step 2," etc. should suffice.

Like most guys, I've put together my fair share of last-minute Christmas gifts, with the goal that whatever I put together lasts at least until dinner is over. That's because if it breaks after dinner, I've bought a couple of days to actually ponder the instructions and see what I did wrong -- or find someone or something else to blame the breakage on.

When it comes to paper directions, I understand why the precautions are legally necessary. Man is a funny being. Somewhere someone must have decided his bath water wasn't warm enough, so he plugged in his electric heater and tossed it in with him. He could have been related to the guy who thought it was a good idea to run his electric chord under a throw rug and then put his rocking chair over it. Still, it seems to me some of the directions given are just plain common sense. I really don't plan on giving my toddler a plastic dry-cleaner bag for his Christmas gift this year.

Then, of course, there is the exception that proves the rule. You know the time. It's when you are so frustrated you're ready to toss the toy through the window, rather than figure out tab A from slot C. And then, much to your chagrin, your wife picks up the instruction manual and explains the solution to you -- in terms a five-year-old could get. Not only is it frustrating, it's really humiliating.

To ward off these situations, I have made a new resolution this year: if I have to assemble it, I don't buy it.

And if it does come down to something I actually have to put together, I will make it a joint family venture on Christmas Day. That way we can all learn to work as a team!

After all, team sports are more fun anyway, aren't they?

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