Posts Tagged ‘directions’
When I was in high school I wasn’t very good at writing essays. (Yeah, bestselling novelist now! Take that Mrs. Finane!) Okay, Mrs. Finane had a point – I DON’T do a good five-paragraph essay. Never have, probably never will. What this meant was that I was bounced out of Advanced English every other year. In the regular English classes I got to diagram sentences and . . . take the ASVAB. (That’s the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery.) Apparently, if you couldn’t write a good essay, you should check out the military.
Since the ASVAB didn’t care if you could write a 5PE, I scored really well. I can diagram sentences like there is no tomorrow. Throw me a vocab word! I can also fold those odd cut-outs into 3D shapes really well. And there was a mechanics section, too – where should the fulcrum go? What’s the blast radius? How much rope and how many pullies does it take to get enough of a mechanical advantage for a small native boy to lift a wounded 300 lb soldier on a back brace?
Who knew that I had this kind of aptitude? Actually, I could have told you this. In my family, there’s a point of pride about knowing how to put something together . . . without the instructions. I can’t tell you how many futons I helped build or repair in my college days. Yes, you can stack the beds in your dorm room, but you have to go to Home Depot and get the right size dowel, and – if you’re smart – some braces and a few wood screws, but don’t tell them I told you that.
We’re all familiar with this three word phrase, but is it really good? As instructions go, it’s rather unclear. Lather what? Where? Whom? Yes, technically, it says what you do, but it still leaves much to be desired. Maybe this is why even this familiar phrase is often dumped in favor of picture panel instructions.
You’re familiar with these: the series of squares with little stick figure people depicting what you are supposed to do, because ‘lather, rinse, repeat’ has gotten beyond us. In some places, the panel series is handy. Last week, when I put a ceiling fan together, the pictures were far more helpful than the little labels and ‘bolt A, nut B’ written directions. A picture can say a thousand words and it’s worth it when the ceiling fan in question has so many parts that they gave up on standard notation and went straight for hexadecimal.
But in other cases, I’m not so sure. The Axe deodorant company is everyone’s favorite maker of cheesey ads, and I want to say that no one I know has ever touched the stuff. But . . . well, I can’t say that. It seems fitting that these purveyors of all things overdone have ditched the standard ‘lather, rinse, repeat’ is favor of the picture panel. There are only two pictures on the back of the body wash. The first depicts the outline of a man with a washcloth and a lot of lather. It appears he is rubbing the lather on himself.