Maybe I'm getting dumber!
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 by Ron Cruger
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An aversion to those %$%$@# instruction booklets
        The salesman at the electronic store looked me right in the eye and said, “Would you like us to install it for you?” I answered, “No thanks, I can handle this.” And that’s how this conundrum began.
        We had purchased one of those new flat screen, liquid crystal, high definition television sets along with a combination DVD/ cassette player and the special table, built for this particular model television set.
         When the salesperson heard my answer he produced a subtle, but noticeable grin. His head nodded slightly as if he was thinking, “Whatever you say. I’ll be seeing you again.”
        A friend helped me tote the enormous boxes home in the back of his pickup truck. We unloaded the boxes, carried them into the living room, where we began the process of uncrating the purchase.
        Each cardboard box was strapped with that flat, sinewy white plastic that requires a hack saw or “the jaws of life” to sever.
        Removing the merchandise from the packing boxes took the better part of 2 hours, which included cutting up the enormous boxes so our trash man would oblige by hauling the mass of cardboard and countless pieces of that formed plastic packing away.
        Finally, all the components were there, taking up most of the floor space in the living room – an enormous television set, its multi-shelved large glass table, the DVD/ cassette player and a bewildering assortment of wires, plugs, screws and various items of which I am not familiar.
        For each piece of merchandise I found a thick instruction booklet. I began with the booklet which explained how to construct the multi-shelved glass table. The booklet contained some elementary line drawings starting with the number one, ending with step number 92. My confidence shrank.
        Defeated, I switched to the ponderously thick book explaining how to install the DVD/cassette player to the television set. The booklet was obviously written by someone to whom an electronic puzzle was elementary stuff. To me it was a perplexing jumble of a baffling language of which I am also not familiar.
        Next I turned to the largest of the instruction booklets. The one for the television set. Its sheer thickness prompted me to place it on my lap and fall asleep.
        Upon waking I telephoned my salesman at the electronic store. I said, “I’m having a bit of a problem putting the television set, the table and the DVD/cassette together and getting them to work.” The salesman offered, “Oh, yes, I did forget to tell you that you’ll have to phone your cable company and have them come out and install a box so you can get the high definition on your set.” I kept the phone to my ear and turned to the collection of electronic gear covering the living room floor. I asked the salesman, “Is there anything else I’ll need to see a real television program someday?” “Yes, you’ll also need some new cables in order to get the best possible picture?”
        Still holding the phone, I turned again to the mass of wires, plugs, screens, boxes, 2 remote control things and 3 instruction booklets. I swallowed my leaking pride and said, “Maybe you guys should come out and install this stuff.” I could almost “feel” the salesman’s grin through the phone wires. He said, “We’ll have two men out there tomorrow.”
        Tomorrow came. The cable guy came. The electronic store men came. I watched them assemble the table, place the television set on it. I watched as they placed a myriad of wires from the DVD/cassette player to the cable box to the back of the television. Now there were three remote controls to manage.
        The men juggled the three remotes and magically a picture appeared on the screen. Wow! It was the clearest television picture I’d ever seen. Every color was bright and the white was whiter than I’d ever seen.
         I thanked the men. They left. I was flummoxed and embarrassed – but I did have an operating television set.
        A few days later I decided to look through the instruction booklet for the television set. Page after page delivered detailed directions on the marvelous options I had. One page that again left me flummoxed was “How to set the clock.” Another section instructed, “How to edit the input source name.” Another showed, “Using automatic picture setting.” After glancing at the “Viewing picture in picture” instructions my flummoxing became serious. Evidently my IQ had slipped below normal, perhaps below “dummy.”
        One good thing came out of this demoralizing episode. I’ve made my mind up that if I have to read an electronic instruction booklet - I won’t buy it!
        I’ve made my mind up – what’s left of it.