INSTRUCTIONS – FROM DIRECT TO ARE THEY KIDDING?
I was born in an era when communication between people, business and governmental entities was both sparse and simple. An extreme example: You got killed in action, and your next of kin received a four-line telegram. Now every communication has become very verbose, too frequent and often contains unintelligible language, much of it very legalistic, and in my opinion, unnecessary.
One of my pet peeves is the excessive degree of instructions provided for just about anything. They must be operating under the belief, “Common sense is not so common.”
THE WTF DIRECTIONS
If you use a computer, which nowadays is essential for life as we know it, you get some very strange messages:
If you Google wahmo rev-19 to get the latest information, you learn the following:
“whamo rev-19 is an operating system program that replaces Rev-18 and corrects some faults and vulnerabilities in that program. It is safe to download provided your operating system is properly configured. There is some risk of loss of data and program incompatibility if you are not properly configured.”
Now you get to play the software version of Russian Roulette. You think WTF, hit the download key and keep your fingers crossed.
ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF POINTLESS INSTRUCTION THAT PASSES LEGAL SCRUTINY
Purpose: The purpose of these instructions is to inform and educate the owner of the light switch on the proper method of switch operation and the necessary precautions that must be followed to insure safe operation.
Precautions: A light switch controls a power source that can cause harm or even death. It is important that the user not attempt to operate it unless it has been installed by a certified electrician.
Under no circumstances should the switch be operated if the hands are covered in a conducting fluid such as water. In certain circumstances, this can result in an electrical shock.
(This goes on for another few paragraphs).
The manufacturer cannot be held responsible for any injury that is caused by failure to comply with these instructions.
Normal operation: To turn on the light switch, place your forefinger and thumb on the protruding lever, which will normally be in the downward position. In a continuous motion, move the protruding switch handle to its uppermost position. Do not use excessive force.
If the light or other load is already on and you desire to turn it off, repeat the sequence but in the opposite direction. Following these instructions exactly will insure that the switch will function properly and have a long service life. If you need more detail on proper switch operation, you can go to our website: safeswitch.com.
If we thought computers and products bog us down with pointless instructions, they are no match for the government.
I suspect most readers of this newsletter qualify for Medicare; however, for those who have yet to reach the ripe old age of 65, let me enlighten you on what you have in store for you in the way of unmeaningful information. When you go in to see the sawbones (doctor) to let him slide a hunk of wood into your throat to try and gag you or stick something in your ear to see if you have any brains, he has to submit data to the government to get paid for that service. You then become the recipient of the accounting data used by our government. This comes in a series of letters directly to your mail box that gives you excruciating accounting detail.
I think the purpose of this detail is to let you rat on the doctor if he is charging for services that he did not perform. Now to implement this detail, they have (in typical bureaucratic fashion) established an elaborate code structure that covers every conceivable thing that can pop out of a doctor’s bag.
My first encounter with this type of governmental minutia was in the Air Force as a maintenance officer. The aircraft manufacturer would print a number on each part; if you needed that part, you would order that part number. For some reason, this was not considered sufficient, so they gave everything a federal stock number that had no relationship to the manufacturer’s part number. Think this caused problems? I experienced this first hand when I got a directive to install some new wiring that ran from the cockpit to the tail of the aircraft to connect a transmitter. The wire required was given a federal stock number. I ordered the wire and was told that it only existed in a Phoenix warehouse. A special plane was sent to pick it up. When it finally arrived at the shop, it was a spool of wire bigger than my car with a wire gauge that could power half the base. The wrong stock number was printed in the maintenance directions with no description or picture of the item. This resulted in about $10K worth of wire going directly to the salvage yard. How was I to know then that this was actually training me in preparation for dealing with Medicare in my future?
In the case of Medicare, they give you line item reports that list the code number (302.1), the amount charged ($372), the amount approved ($106), the amount paid ($61) and the amount you owe ($18). None of these numbers make sense, and you have no idea what code 302.1 really stands for because for the same visit, they also billed code number 304.7, 568.3 and 706.9. At the end of all of these codes, the amount you owe is zero because it was paid by the supplemental policy. Then there are a couple of pages that inform you of your rights to protest these charges. Two months later, you receive a new letter seemingly related to the same visit, but with different codes and charges. My bottom line – I trust the doctor to be honest and straightforward. I am not so sure about the government …
I used to save these letters because I thought they might be important, but I now realize they are best used for origami practice, or when wadded up, they test my ability to hit the 3 point shot in my waste basket across the room.
I am sure that you all have your pet peeves. Share your biggest pet peeve on my blog – let’s laugh and commiserate over these together! Just remember the old Latin saying: “ILLITIGIMENTUM NON CARBURUNDUM.” This can be translated as: “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”
Keep a smile on your face and see you next month.