IM COMPER HENS ABLE

I didn’t have much time to spend this weekend when we had to set our clocks back an hour.  And all but two of my clocks are analog — for a reason.

However,  the clock on my stereo system is digital and flashes brightly and annoyingly at every power outage.  And then came the Time Change:

Press CLOCK until time flashes.

Rotate MULTI-JOG  to set the hour

Press SKIP FORWARD  to shift to minutes

Rotate MULTI-JOG to set the minute

Press SET to save settings

Press STOP to quit settings.

But not all knobs and dials and little indentations were labeled;  and the ones that were labeled were medium gray embossed onto lighter medium gray — in microscopic print.

On a shiny surface.

So a flashlight didn’t help much.

bar dissolve er

The following day I received an email from my bank which informed me that the bank was changing its online automatic bill paying system, so all E-BILLS will be suspended for two weeks, and I’d have to make “other arrangements”  to pay my bills for that time, and then come back and set up my online  bill paying in the new system.

So I looked at my bank  statements.   I had less than a week to do this for some of the bills.    The bills that my bank handles automatically are listed on their statement variously as E=PAYMENT;   E-BILL;   AUTOMATIC WITHDRAWAL;   AUTOMATIC PAYMENT;  and one just ended with the company’s phone number.

So . . . ?

When I followed the link in my email and got into my account  (don’t DO that from an email message),  I discovered that in order to see an overview of what bills the bank paid automatically for me,  I’d have to “sign up”  for E-BILL payment.    Which — wasn’t I already signed up if they’re already paying my bills?   And now I had to agree to a new set of privacy statements.  And I didn’t want to.  But a few minutes later I got an email “welcoming” me to their online bill paying service.

After a trip – in person – to the bank today,  it was mutually agreed that the unhelpful instructions which I had printed out is their fault.  They weren’t seeing it from the customer’s point of view.    See,   all those words in capital letters,  that wasn’t the bank’s designation,  it was the label  the different companies put on the automatic payment.   In other words,  the “E=BILL” on my bank statement wasn’t the bank’s “E-BILL.”

We have wonderful customer service people at my bank.   She explained it all so clearly.   I’m pretty sure she knew what the bank was doing.    Their IT people just weren’t aware of actual Customer experience.

bar dissolve erI once bought a cheap digital watch that I liked because you could set a chime to ring at every hour.  The salesman showed me how to do it.    But when I had to set the time back,  I couldn’t figure out from the instructions how to  do it, . So I bought another similar one which was set to Daylight Savings Time.    So I alternated throughout the year.   But after they each needed new batteries . . .   well, I’m not using either one for now.

bar dissolve er

And so,  I’m just blowing off steam.   I think we need writers who write for real people who are going to read their writings.   If you know what I mean.    So many instructions and memos and letters are written without knowing what it will sound like to the reader.   I once sat down just for fun and “corrected”  a letter that a teacher had sent home with our daughter.   ( I was a teacher too once! )   But letter after letter, through the various teachers —   it just  got to be too sad.  Too alarming, actually, as the years went by.

You all probably know by now where I think we are in the great cycle of civilization.  This is more than  a mere fin-de-siécle *, it’s an absolute collapse of civilization.    Reading and writing are marks of a civilization.    Our local news reported recently that an assessment of Detroit school children shows that  93% of children are not proficient at reading;  and 96% are not proficient at math.    That means they can’t read or do math as expected.     But that’s old news.   Twenty years ago there was a study in some big eastern state that showed that a little more than half of the graduating seniors could not read their own diploma.    And again,  another eastern state,  something like 70+% of teachers could not pass the high school proficiency test needed to graduate from high school.

The majority of people I know say they “don’t like to read”  or don’t spend any time reading — or the great cover excuse:  “I don’t like to read fiction, I only like to read about real things.”      Which reveals an enormous misunderstanding of what fiction is.   But as a teacher,  I recognize an excuse when I see it.

But let’s have fun with mangled English.

Trying to navigate written instructions reminds me of that great Website called  engrish   .  com.  You can get to the Website using that URL,  no spaces.

Try these instructions:

engr cap itOr pay attention when you’re at an airport!

engr  eating carpetEspecially follow the instructions when you’re thinking of using a toilet:

engr toilet paper

It’s international —

engr russianI could stay on the Website for a very long time.

I’ll take good humor wherever I can get it.

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