I was going through some of my clutter and came across an elementary school report card from fifth grade. For the most part, I did well in all subjects, except there was one glaring remark in the comments section that flagged my attention.
“Michael does not follow directions.”
That was something my folks already knew. Most young guys had the same problem if you can even call it one. I believe it’s hereditary to the male species and more of a “trait” than anything.
Part of my not following instructions had to do with placement of headings. Some instructors wanted your name, class, and teacher’s identity in the upper left-hand corner, while others expected it just the opposite. I’d sometimes get confused before a test began, especially if it was Monday morning.
Having a 50/50 chance of getting things right, I was generally wrong. Evidently, Mrs. Drake deemed this a real dilemma, along with her students using spiral notebooks. She briefly mentioned that in the comments section as well.
Spiral notebooks were disliked by some teachers, most likely because they hated seeing all those jagged edges when a page was removed. There were many times I had to borrow a regular sheet of paper from a classmate to avoid being penalized. Some kids went so far as to use scissors to trim the ragged remnants, but that narrowed the border considerably.
On the flip side, some spiral notebooks that my wife recently purchased from Wal-Mart have perforations next to the springs for ease of page removal. Why didn’t notebooks from the 1960s have the same? It seems we’ll be going spiral for eternity, because at .19 cents apiece on sale, Joleen purchased twenty of the books in a variety of colors.
Getting back to that ancient report card. The “does not follow directions” still remains a part of my life. Now days, I find it more challenging in trying to put something together while looking at an instruction sheet, than not. With so much stuff being manufactured in China, it’s often a brain teaser attempting to decipher their crudely composed schematics.
The other evening, I successfully assembled a Chinese made paint sprayer purchased from Harbor Freight. The manual showed a couple of bolts being installed one direction, while a picture on front of the box showed them turned the other.
“A picture is worth a thousand words!” came in handy here. I stopped looking at the instructions and went strictly by photo. All turned out well.
One specific guideline that I seldom adhere to, is using black ink when it’s called for on legal, government, and medical papers. Some folks believe it’s a cardinal sin to not follow this rule. If a blue ink pen is found in my desk drawer first, blue automatically becomes the color. To this date, no one’s ever denied nor returned any paperwork due to improper hue.
As Hillary Clinton would say, “What difference does it make?”
That’s exactly what I was thinking near sixty years ago regarding the use of spiral notebook paper!