Read the Instructions

He thought he was a mechanical genius who could put anything together without reading the instructions. Sometimes that belief in himself worked out. Sometimes it left us stranded in the middle of nowhere with a car that wouldn’t run. Sometimes we had beautiful bookshelves, but sometimes we had desks with drawers that wouldn’t open.

Please use the open space below to share your first 50 words on the topic “read the instructions.”

Author: Virginia DeBolt

Writer and teacher who writes blogs about web education, writing practice, and pop culture.

8 thoughts on “Read the Instructions”

  1. Jared fiddled with the wrapping on the device. The salesman made it seem so easy. Ok, did he start at the top or the bottom? Maybe here. No, that didn’t seem right. Over and over he turned it, trying desperately to remember the series of steps that he needed to follow. Now other people were entering the room. Crap! Jared was really stressing out now. What did he need to do? A young woman he didn’t know saw his confusion and approached him:

    “Doctor, perhaps you should read the instructions.”

  2. *&$@! damn it! She had driven north on the parkway for forty-five minutes. The car would shimmy and make strange noises every time she drove over fifty miles per hour. It was pouring. She had her six year old son, baby, and dog in the car. It was moving time. Their friends were busy at the old apartment in the city loading a rented U-Haul. She had a k.d. baby crib with mattress in the car. The plan was to have the children and dog in the new suburban house settled in for the night before the truck arrived. When she finally pulled into the driveway she wanted to kiss the ground. The drive up had been quite a challenge. They settled into what would be the baby’s room with the unwrapped crib parts and the diagrams plus directions laid out on the floor. She’d read the directions several times during the previous week. You surely know how it goes. The actual assembly wasn’t as simple as it would appear. She wished these inexpensive things she bought mostly made in China came with easier directions. She swore under her breath as she struggled with the tools and parts. Sometimes she felt avoiding reading the directions might even had made the job easier. Whew! Finally. At long last, crib assembled. Mattress in. Bedding on. Baby asleep. Time for a break with older son and dog. All is well.

  3. Read the Instructions if you desire to have success. We become very anxious to complete a task and skip the instructions. But, they are the most significant component of any endeavor. Without the instructions, tasks will be botched and we will be lost. The instructions are a viable life saver.

  4. Ikea is supposed to be easy – not make me break down in tears. To be fair to Ikea, my husband had always put the damn thing together. Since he left, chores that I had deemed not worthy of my time now clung to me like the twisted, stinging tendrils of jellyfish.

  5. The rain . Always blame the rain . The minivan ahead wore a yellow plastic shroud , to protect the new washing machine against the elements . It fluttered dangerously and provocatively .
    We were behind the mini van , in a car , cramped and wet , with a dripping umbrella , wedged between my legs , the moisture slowly seeping up my jeans , crawling on my skin . I sneezed , and a wad of papers slid onto the vibrating car floor . It also included the user’s manual , thoughtfully packed inside a tiny polythene ziplock pouch. It protected the instructions and warranty from monsoon , but what about the environment . “Achoooo!”
    “Bless you mama !”
    My kids looked at me with varying degrees of caution , horror and apprehension .
    Sneezing and running nose in today’s world heralded danger and , dread . My younger one quickly placed her palm on my forehead .
    “Do you have any fever ? Are you breathless ? ” “Can you smell this ?” Sticking her small bottle of sanitiser under my nose .
    I sneezed promptly again.
    Her elder sister quietly pulled the umbrella away from in between my legs and rolled her eyes in a gesture towards her younger sister that read ” Fools ”
    I looked at both my daughters with gratitude . One for her overbearing compassion , another for her quiet common sense .

    The washing machine is installed . But is wobbly .
    The girls have retired to their rooms to do what kids do nowadays in their rooms . Engage with devices that educate, entertain and confuse . In turns .
    I am watching from a safe distance , hanky in hand , getting wetter , with each passing moment . The user’s manual lies wet , and unopened on the dining table . As everyone here is an expert on washing machines . The buyer , i.e., hubby , (“I Have single -handedly installed three of them in the past ” , truth actually , but this one was a new one ,who will tell him that ?), and the half drenched shop guys who came in to install , water squelching out of their boots , onto freshly tiled floor . They tried changing screw-on grommeted holes , the legs , front to back and reverse again . The machine still wobbled . Someone suggested placing a wad of newspaper underneath the short leg . Someone suggested elevating the contraption onto a wooden stand . Hubby rung up the shop owner , pouring out his frustration , against machines that were unruly , against women who no longer hand washed clothes , against spoilt kids , against shop owners who cheat and shortchange you , against the universe plotting against his getting a washing machine installed , against incessant rains etc.etc.

    “Read the instructions.” I must have thought out aloud , as I donot remember speaking these words . All eyes turned towards me . There was wonder , amazement and frank horror in some . As if a long petrified stone statue had come to life , and spoken . Some actually , looked past me , scanning the room , wondering where the sound had emananted from .

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