Following Directions: It’s not that difficult, people!

In my bill-paying, office-monkey, boredom-inducing day job, I have come to a startling realization:

I spend at least half of my time fixing mistakes other people have made simply by not fucking following directions.

I don’t understand why this concept is so foreign for some.  Did no one teach you people that lesson from kindergarten (or first grade, or any other grade, or in prep classes for any standardized test) about how much easier your life would be if you just took a second to look at the directions AND DID WHAT THEY SAID?  Did everyone not have that one teacher who liked to give random following-directions tests where if you actually read the directions it said to put your name on it and turn it in without answering the questions?  Was I just blessed with really amazing teachers who instilled this in me from an early age, while the rest of you were left to fend for yourselves?

We all get in a hurry; I understand that.  I have many a time found myself without all the tools I’d need to assemble a table from IKEA, or forgotten something for the recipe and had to go back to the store.  I have skimmed an email when I should have read the details.  I have felt the shame and misery of calling the IT department with a problem only to realize I missed some tiny, inane step in the process.  We’re all human; we screw up; I get it.

It’s when these things keep happening over and over again with the same people as the culprits that I start to get really annoyed.  And because I’m not actually in a position of any authority, I can’t really do much to correct their behavior.  All I can do is politely and professionally inform them of their error and help them clean up the mess.  I’m occasionally met with the professional equivalent of, “Sorry, my bad,” but I’m lucky if I even get that much.  Most of the time I’m met with lame and lazy excuses, and usually the bulk of the problem-fixing falls to me.

I.e., when other people screw up, I get to do their jobs for them.  And I can’t even call them idiots for it.

Is it just me, or are all jobs like this?  Would offices like mine and administration and help desks become obsolete if we could just make people learn this incredibly simple skill?  On the one hand, imagine how great life would be if the entire human race would just get off their know-it-all high horse and follow the goddamn directions you give them.  We could actually get things done right the first time.  Next thing you know, we’d all be owning up to our own mistakes and fixing the resulting mess ourselves instead of dumping the blame on someone else.  We might even take a second to think about how our actions affect the people around us, and start treating our fellow man with kindness and courtesy.  The world would be a much better place.

Of course on the other hand, people like me might be out of a job.  I suppose I should be grateful in this highly unemployed world to be able to feed myself without having to move in with one of my parents…

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2 Responses to Following Directions: It’s not that difficult, people!

  1. Coulda done without the “F” word but I like it. And Yes I believe that Help Desks would be obsolete is other people could learn to read directions.

    • If you’re offended by profanity, this may not be the blog for you. I am a firm believer in freedom of self-expression, and while I try to be sensitive to the situation and the preference of others in person, I don’t censor myself in my writing.

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