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Following instructions

Does anyone actually read instructions? I tend to think I can figure things out on my own. Unfortunately that seldom happens. That label warning on blow dryers that states “do not use while bathing,” was probably meant for someone a lot like me.

My common sense is usually senseless. For some reason, I am bound and determined to do things on my own, even at the expense of them not always turning out so great. I bought a small dresser from a department store, the kind you have to put together yourself. The kind we buy thinking it will last a lifetime. The instructions were in several languages and I chose to look at none of them. If the directions don’t just jump out at me, I usually ignore them. 

After laying out all the pieces, I managed to get everything together, using only half the pieces that came with it. (Why do they put so many pieces in the packages anyways?). I was pretty impressed at the time; only one of the drawer fronts was on backward and the top of the dresser was on upside down. The hardest parts were the rollers to make the drawers move smoothly and I decided that I didn’t really need them to move that smoothly anyways!

My dresser looked like something you see on the side of the road that has fallen off somebody’s truck. What took me days to put together, may have only taken hours had I chosen to read the instructions. (Had I used all the pieces, the dresser might have stood up to being used longer, too!)

I never wear dresses, but I needed one for a party and I found a really cute one that looked okay on its hanger so I bought it. After getting it home I realized what looked good on a hanger does not always look so good on a person, but what was done was done; I wasn’t going to return it. I don’t shop well. Black and white are really good color for most people, simple and elegant, unless you spill beets on it, then it’s not so good. It’s not like you can hide a beet stain on your lap either. If I had washed it out as soon as I got home, things might have been a little different. I actually looked at the label for a split second and saw that it had to be hand washed. So, off I go to the kitchen, fill the sink and dip my cute little dress in it. I washed and washed and the water still looked dingy. I rinsed and I washed some  more. Hot water, rinsed in cold water, until the water rinsed clear and believe me it took a while! Then I tossed the dress in the dryer, thinking that it would be a neat little number to wear to my parents’ house for dinner next week.

I later pulled it out of the dryer to find that the only person wearing this dress anywhere might be one of my granddaughters’ Barbie dolls. It was wool. The miniaturized label said, no hot water, towel dry. The dingy water was the dye I was removing with each thrust into the soap that I wasn’t supposed to be using. 

It’s not that I can’t read instructions, I think it’s more like I don’t have the patience to look at them. I have always been proud of being a “hands on” learner and this was very evident on a camping trip up Johnson Creek. I had to buy a new tent as my old one had seen its last days and I was very excited about the bargain tent I found. It wasn’t a “pop up” tent like my last one. This one had poles and stakes and everything with it. Aspen and I found the perfect campsite as always, plenty of rocks for her to catch and I proceeded to set up camp. It was sunny when I started setting up, but the clouds had rolled in when I wasn’t looking. I love to camp in the rain though, so Aspen and I crawled into the tent ready to relax and read a good book. My new tent was fabulous. I could stand up in it, didn’t have to bend over to crawl inside, it was like a fold up castle!! I read myself to sleep beneath the clouds and to the sound of gentle raindrops.

My sleeping bag was curled up around Aspen and I, tucked inside warmly. That is, until the tent collapsed on our heads and the rain that had pooled in the top of the tent splashed down upon our unsuspecting heads. A very rude awakening! Had I read the instructions for the tent, I would have known that you have to stake down the rain flap so the water rolls safely off onto the ground. Had I read the instructions I wouldn’t have woken up half drowned with Aspen grumbling at me as if she knew what I had—or actually hadn’t—done.

You would think that a lifetime of proving that you need instructions would make someone look at them, but still, there is that small voice inside me that says, “who needs instructions?” 

Upon arriving in Louisiana to visit my friend Sherry, her pooch, Little Man began urinating on things. We thought he was marking his territory; I assumed it was because Aspen had arrived with me and he wasn’t very tolerant of her. Sherry and I decided we would buy some puppy training spray, the kind you spray to help your pup learn where not to pee. It was rather expensive for both of our budgets, but we bought it anyway, thinking it would still be better than getting up with dog pee everywhere.

Every day we sprayed and every night, Little Man peed. Finally, in frustration, I grabbed the bottle and sprayed everywhere. The bed, the sofa, chairs, desk, computer tower, nothing was safe from my spray nozzle. Still nothing worked. At the end of a day of cleaning pee up everywhere, I grabbed the useless bottle prepared to throw it out. I turned it over to read the instructions, just to see if there was anything we had possibly missed. Sherry and I looked at each other with a “you’ve got to be kidding” scowl. The directions? Spray only the area that you want your dog to urinate on. Unbelievable. Now I read the instructions on everything from toilet paper to milk!

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Jinx Beshears Jinx Beshears is a southern transplant to North Idaho, and shares her confusion with the Pacific Northwest Lifestyle in her column, Jinxed. When not writing, or living, her outlandish stories, she's generally lost somewhere in the mountains with her dog, Aspen.

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