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Whittling Away: Following directions not always one my strong suits

May 11, 2018 11:46 am Updated: May 11, 2018 11:51 am

I consider myself a reasonably intelligent person with a pleasant easy going personality but I will admit to one male characteristic that seems to universal among those of us of the male persuasion.

I don’t like following directions.

Most of the things I have to assemble seem to come from foreign countries and seem to have been translated by someone not really familiar with English. I’ve put lots of things together and I know how to use a screwdriver so I lay out the parts, look at the picture of the completed object on the box it came in and it’s easy to figure out how the parts go together. Most of the things I put together work, some of them reasonably well. True, some of them make funny noises and you have to turn the switch on the blender to “Off” if you want to get it to run and then switch it to “On” to turn it off. A minor problem, after using it for a couple of weeks, you don’t even think about it anymore.

I do keep all the instructions in a drawer with all the warrantees that I have to send in someday. I didn’t buy the thing to break down so I probably won’t need them anyway. A lot of the directions are misleading anyway. “Easy to assemble using simple hand tools” should be followed by “and an engineering degree.”

I also hate to ask for directions when traveling to unfamiliar places. First of all, I’m uncomfortable because I don’t know where the bathrooms are, being a senior citizen, I know the location of every bathroom within a radius of 30 or 40 miles of my home base. This is my comfort zone, being in the “I don’t know where to go” zone makes me nervous. The Queen always makes silly suggestions like, “Why don’t you ask that nice man walking his dog?” I don’t know the guy. He could be a serial killer and his 10 pound companion looks vicious. Besides I’m not really lost, I’m pretty sure what county we’re in and usually am pretty sure which state we’re in.

I got one of those GPS things but I don’t like some lady I don’t know telling me what to do. “Turn right in half a mile, turn right in a quarter of a mile, turn right in 100 ft.” It gets me all tensed up, how do I know there’s even a road that goes off to the right. Suddenly there’s the road to the right but I miss it because I’ve been too busy listening to the lady in the box. She never says, “Sorry” no, she says, “recalculating” in kind of a snotty way that infers that she’d like to add “Dummy!” She then starts telling me how to turn around. Going backward doesn’t seem like progress to me. I figure if I keep driving around long enough, I’ll get where I want to go so I turn the lady off and start looking for a bathroom.

Thought for the week — Older males don’t need directions, everyone’s always telling us where to go anyway.

Until next week, may you and yours be happy and well.

Reach Dick Brooks at