Best! Manual! Ever!

...A Well Written Manual:

When I was a little boy, I was given a Tyco slot-car race-track for Christmas. It was noisy. It was fast. And, by any eight year old's standards in the year 1979, it was awesome. Frigging awesome, in fact.

It looked like this (except it was cooler because it was mine!):

ooh yeah!

Now, you'd think that my lasting memory from this toy would be one of me with my dad. Two men, racing! Woo hoo!!! ...Or, maybe it would be a memory of me with a friend when we figured out how to make the cars fly off the track and go whizzing across the room. WHEEEEEEEEEE!!!! Crash!!! HAHAA!!!!


The memory I have from that race track comes from the manual. Even as a child, I read product manuals, and yes, I realize that's a frightening thought. But even more frightening than the thought of an eight year old reading the manual to his new slot-car race track is the memory that manual left with the boy.

Page 1: contents.
"...uh huh."
Page 2: warnings.
"...uh oh."

On that page of warnings was a cartoon-picture of a little boy holding two broken pieces of race-track. He had a tear on his cheek. Clearly, the way he'd attempted to assemble the track was wrong.


...but I'd already put my race track together properly! My race track was loads of fun! Still, I couldn't help but feel the pain of the other little boy who'd accidentally broken his by not following the directions.

I had such a fun toy! And yet... sadness filled my room.

To this very day, when in doubt, I read the manual. I am a good boy.

* * * * * * * * * * *

...A Poorly Written Manual:

I am a Black Friday shopper. I admit it. I try to hold off on major purchases until the holidays come around, and then I catch the sales. Why pay more than I have to?

This year's agenda was simple. I wanted a new TV - and I got one. $399 for a 32 inch LCD. Not bad!

I bought my previous TV in Florida back in 1995. Since then, it's been moved to Pennsylvania, Texas, Oregon, back to Texas, and then to (gasp!) five apartments here in Portland. It was a 75 pound tube TV. I saw 'was' because I sold it yesterday on Craigslist.

I started scouting out bargains to replace it with when lists of Black Friday sales hit the web two weeks ago. I compiled notes filled with model numbers, feature comparisons and price-points. When I couldn't find the answers I wanted, I went so far as to download specific TV manuals from the manufacturer websites.

Here's half a page from a manual I downloaded.


AHAAHAA!!! Best! Manual! Ever! ...needless to say, I didn't buy that TV.

::::: | Tuesday, Dec 02 2008 at 10:22 PM
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