I Cry When I Have To Read Instructions

I'll contemplate the meaning of life as evidenced through my dog's penchant for masturbation for hours. But ask me to read directions of any kind and I go kaboom.
Publish date:
December 1, 2011
nervous breakdown, frustration, instructions

Is it just me or is the 10th circle of Dante's Inferno the FedexKinko's? Like those sinners guilty of lust, gluttony, or heresy forced to blow in the wind, live in a slushee or lie in a fiery tomb respectively, those suffering from frustration must figure out Adobe Photoshop on their own.

Here's the thing, I hate being frustrated (who loves it?) and I'm frustrated a lot.

You'd think by now I would have learned my triggers --instructions of any kind, technology -- but I haven't. I hate figuring out anything that should be easy for anyone with skills. And because I'm a self-absorbed only child I think I have skills. Mad skills.

According to me I'm a genius, so whenever I'm presented with stuff Y2Kindergarteners know how to do but I don't, I go into tantrum mode -- feet stomping, primal screams, clenched teeth and then tears. I do this in public.

Yesterday's plan was allegedly simple -- choose three amazing photos from my boyfriend's triathlon, print said photos, frame said photos, gift wrap said photos. Easy peasy, right?

Try mind blowingly complicated to the point of committing a crime of passion.

First of all it was raining. As we all know I can't drive, and the metro doesn't stop in the sweet spots I need. So I walked 10 blocks to the FedexKinko's, which will henceforth be referred to as hell on earth.

Once there, I spent 10 minutes trying to open Photoshop before realizing I was logged into the "basic" work station, which is bascially useless, and not the "design" station, which has all the good stuff. I waited in line for 10 minutes to figure that out. The clock is ticking.

An hour and $40 dollars later I'd printed out a bunch of pictures that didn't suck and headed to the art store for fancy mats and frames.

Sizing me up, the kid behind the register tried to convince me that I could X-acto knife a photo mat board myself and I almost believed in the me that he saw. A woman who looked fairly sane and not at all like someone who once punched a hole in a canvas when she couldn't Piccasso herself. I am not the capable woman Art Store Clerk thought I was.

I bought three pre-cut mats and "archival" frames.

None of the pictures fit right in the pre-cut mats. Too much "negative space." This is what happens when you have a cocktail party education. I know how things should look, but I have no practical knowledge of how to get them there. What I'm saying is, my shit looked ghetto. Janky even.

It started raining harder. Each drop felt like a punch in the throat. And that's exactly where a familiar knot began to take hold. By now it was 5 o'clock. I needed to get these babies wrapped and hidden before my boyfriend came home.

The bus schedule is clearly made for lesser, slower beings, so instead of waiting like a chump I power walked through my frustration for 10 blocks.

I burst into the mouth of hell wet and tired, juggling an umbrella, a roll of wrapping paper and bag filled with heavy glass and metal. Photoshop's ass was grass.

It took another $30 dollars and as many minutes to figure out how to 1) crop an image to exact dimensions without making it look like a fun house photo and 2) change the printer to "card stock." My photos kept coming out all scratchy and when I asked the manager of hell to fix it he said I might have to wait awhile.

"What's awhile?"

"Ma'am, there's two jobs ahead of yours and--"

"--Fifteen minutes? An hour?"


When I finally figured everything out, I was so hyped to get the pictures in the frames that I tore them open right in the middle of hell. Instant gratification! I had to see the finished product immediately, or else the last three hours of my life were in vain. It should've been easy.

Pop the back of the frames open, pop picture in. Done and done? Not and not. Remember I bought "archival" frames. Fancy frames. Frames that have a list of instructions with NINE steps.

I placed an emergency call to my boyfriend. My voice was shaky.

"Where are our tools?"



"Just wait until I get home, I can--"


I'd been instructed that the screwdriver "kit" was in a "gray bag." There are two things wrong with this.

Does this look like a "bag" to you? It took me 20 minutes to find it. I'm not kidding. I picked this BOX up three times without opening it or noticing that it clearly reads, "tool kit" on the front because I was looking for a "bag." I screamed twice.

Did I mention the clock is ticking? Did I mention I was on my period? It's now 6 o'clock. Oh, and I haven't eaten all day.

The second thing wrong? Tool kit. Kit? My tools, the magical metal wands that are supposed to "fix" the stuff I can't just rip into with my teeth like the animal I am, also have instructions? Is it just me, or is this dumb? Or am I? I screamed again.

Because I refused to read the instructions beyond "loosen every single screw" and "remove the entire back of the frame" (the only very specific directions NOT found on the NINE-step instructions list), I cut myself when the frame broke apart in a massive explosion of springs, metal and glass.

That's when I burst into tears.

I could go on, but let's just say somehow the better part of me eventually took over just long enough to get the "challenged" part of me's shit together. I won't even go into the gift-wrapping fiasco. I'll just say that ripping up fancy expensive paper is very cathartic. Almost better than bubble wrap popping. Almost.

My aversion to tools, non-cook book type instructions and technology is so 1950s housewife but I know it has nothing to with what's between my legs. It's what's between my ears. I just hate having to think outside my laptop. I'll contemplate the meaning of life as evidenced through my dog's penchant for masterbation for hours. But ask me to read directions of any kind and I go kaboom.

Does this happen to other grown-ups? Does my total lack of patience say something about my capacity to raise other human beings someday or even be a fully functioning one myself? I mean there's probably an app for that but I'll have no clue how to download it.