Easy as 1, 2, 3

When given a set of instructions, my OCD kicks into overdrive and I find myself reading them over and over until I have them basically memorized and then refer back every five seconds to check what I’ve read and what I should do.

This does not mean I am good with them, as you know, but it’s not for lack of preparation. I maintain that I simply lack the gene that allows for implementation.

However, it’s become apparent that many adults these days lack the preparation, the implementation and the desire to actually read the instructions that are given to them.

Some examples, you say?

I have at least three.

Four-Way Stops

This is not nuclear physics. Basically the first vehicle to arrive at a complete stop is the first vehicle allowed to leave the stop sign. 

But yet people either speed right through or sit there and appear to contemplate the angle of the sun in proportion to the trajectory of the moon before concluding they should go — a decision often influenced by the fact everyone is waving them on with one select finger or honking their horns.

I know the rules and will stand my ground with one exception: If your car is held together with bungee cords and duct tape, I will always yield to you. You clearly have nothing to lose.


Hypothetically speaking, let’s say I send out an email that ends with, “I have attached the form with the deadline included. Thanks, Abby.” Please note that my name is also included in the signature at the bottom of the email and in the return email address.

I can’t tell you the number of times I get a reply along the lines of, “Hi Anny/Amy/Bob! Can you please send me the form and let me know when the deadline is?”


This shows a blatant lack of effort and respect for my time, and also that of Anny/Amy/Bob, wherever and whoever they may be. And for the love of avocados, if it instructs, “Reply back directly and do not ‘reply all.’” Do not “reply all.” In fact, do not ever “reply all.”


Self Checkouts

Despite the fact that the machine tells you what to do step-by-step both visually and out loud, it seems “scan item,” “place item in the bag” and “insert money” is interpreted as “poke at the screen for 5 minutes,” “yell about how you can’t find the picture of the bright yellow fruit on the screen” and “try to cram wrinkled dollar bills into the slot while swearing.”

And yet these people keep returning to the self checkout lanes as if actual interaction with the cashier is too much of an inconvenience.

I suppose if nothing else, watching these people justifies the necessity of the “do not eat” warning labels on silica gel packs.

Let’s hope that they follow directions.

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43 responses to “Easy as 1, 2, 3

  1. I can’t pick on people for directions. I pathologically avoid reading them. Which is why all the chairs I’ve bought at IKEA look like china hutches, and all the tables are baby cribs.

  2. um ya, don’t even get me started on self check out. I think it should be timed… like 5 minutes or less and then your kicked off.

  3. Abby: Piggybacking on your email grievance, TODAY is the deadline to RSVP for my son’s bar mitzvah per the invitations. Do you know how many people I have to call? Twenty percent. This has shown me that 20% of the world are rude a$$hats. Seriously, people do not read. Either that or they are stuck in a self-checkout line somewhere.

    • With my job, “hypothetically” speaking, I have to call 90 percent of people past the deadline for them to send in their stuff. And that’s being generous…hypothetically, of course.

    • Oh man. The non-RSVPing drives me insane! I just had my son’s 4th bday party and about half the people did not RSVP at all. I just assumed they weren’t coming. THEN, one of the kids showed up with his dad. No idea he was coming. And it was at one of those “pay by the kid” places. Infuriating!!

      • What do you attribute that to? Do people not read? Not understand the etiquette? Sometimes there is a cultural confusion, as in this case. But to show up — WITH an parent — without having sent an RSVP? On what planet do they live?

        • I don’t know! It is bizarre to me. I had a jacked up childhood, but one thing I did learn was etiquette. Always RSVP, always send thank you notes. I think it’s just rude otherwise. There just doesn’t seem to be a lot of consideration anymore from/for people. Who knows. Chalk it up to the degradation of society? Or is that too simplistic and lazy of a reason? Shrug.

          • (Some) people are just ridiculously rude. Considering how “connected” we are a society these days, there is absolutely no excuse for lack of communication. It’s just a lack of respect, in my opinion. At least say “no.”

          • I’m shrugging, too. But I think this loss of civility is a very sad thing. I think there is much lost when we are too relaxed.

  4. Love this! I can totally relate to the email part. This happens every month when I send emails to my book club group. Inevitably at each meeting half the women will say, “What’s the book for next month and the date?” I have sent them reminders with hyperlinks to Amazon. I want to scream. Sometimes I do.

  5. I wish “reply all” had never been invented.

    I like my boss but he is an email forwarder. We get emails that come to the email group “faculty”. As he is faculty so he gets them and knows we gets them. And yet, because he is Department Head, he feels the need to forward the email to all faculty as soon as he gets it. On top of that, often administration forwards the same email to all faculty just in case. So within the span of 3 minutes, I’ve gotten 3 duplicate messages saying things like “don’t forget to turn your grades in.” All day long. It’s a little like Office Space. And we are a small campus so we get in person reminders about info in the triplicate emails too. It’s like omg I know, “cafeterias having stroganoff today” I got the memo.

  6. When I’m feeling pissed at the world, I like to screw around with the self checkout machines and put through avocados as oranges. Oranges are cheaper than avocados, yo. Win. I’m beating the system, one avocado at a time. 

  7. Hahah I will NOT use self checkout. I either eff it up myself, or am always behind someone who does. No. Will not do it. Someone check me out, damnit!!

  8. Anne Marie the Busy Bee

    Self-checkout: I love when the computer-voice-lady reminds me to take my purchase. Before I leave. Because otherwise I probably would forget it. When I leave.

    • I was about to agree with you, but just yesterday the dude in front of me left without taking one of his bags. Obviously he needs to listen to the voice a wee bit more, eh?

  9. So with you on ALL of those. How many issues are the result of reply all? So, so, SO many. May I also add the total, blatant disregard for the rules and proper use of the rotary to your list?

    • Yes, yes you can. You can add anything else you want to this list and I’m 184 percent sure I’ll probably agree with you.

  10. If I want a job at a grocery store or retail place, I’ll fill out na application and accerssorize with a name tag. I refuse to use the self check out not because I’m a snob but because I stress enough. I don’t need for my social anxiety disorder AND OCD to conspire to kill me because teh self checkout won’t work as efficiently as I need them to.

    also, I work for a large company in group projects. The reply all button will be listed on the autopsy when the coroner talks about cause of death.

  11. Self checkout stresses me out so bad I can’t use it. I have done it about three times with the “there is an item in the _______ area. Please remove to proceed.” I become very stabby so I just avoid them now like the plague. I will wait in line for 15 minutes rather than use one. I wish everyone who felt this way avoided them also. They have a person assigned to the self checkout at most supermarkets due to all the idiots. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose? Don’t get me started on the four way stop. Talk about wanting to jump out of the car and slap people!

    I read, reread, and do the same with instructions. Then check back. I do the same with recipes, even when I know already what I’m going to change and what I’m going to omit. I counted last night and I read the recipe 16 times for the meal I’m making tonight, that I’ve already made several times and have down to a science. Sick I tell ya! Sick!

  12. Reply all is the worst. Before I retired, my email would always be full of those messages!

  13. I totally agree with your whole list. I don’t usually use the self check-out lanes, though, due to extreme performance anxiety. Plus I never know what to do when I scan something, put it in the bag, and the Voice tells me, “Please put your item in the bag” because my lip gloss wasn’t heavy enough for the computer to know it was there. Should I put it in the bag HARDER? Call the self check-out supervisor over from his perch on the bar stool so I can have that human interaction I was trying to avoid? No thanks.

    • Yes! If you buy a greeting card or something lightweight, you have to make a big production of putting it in the bag and applying pressure. But then if you sneeze to hard, the damn thing thinks you put something extra in the bag. Sigh.

  14. I also refuse to use self checkout, because the more of them a store gets, the more human employees bite the dust. As for RSVP, it’s my belief that people think it’s like a trademark or copyright sign. Or maybe a sku number-letter. “It must be, because it’s on every invitation I ever get!”

  15. Is it wrong of me to actually want most of those people to start eating that gel stuff? Too Darwinist? Eh.

  16. As always you CRACK ME UP, Abby!

    And, I can’t with the self-checkouts.

  17. kelleysbreakroom

    This is funny stuff. For the love of avocados, you are so right. I tweeted once that I had been at a four-way stop sign since the day before because I wasn’t sure if it was my turn to go yet.

    Thanks for linking this up with us over at #findingthefunny this week!

  18. I hate when I get to a 4- way and NO ONE MOVES. I usually just go then and give everyone a passive-aggressive “thanks for letting me go, but really you were all just equally unsure, so I’m gonna go ahead and mosey out of here” wave.

  19. People who can’t use the self checkout piss me the F off. They screw up, then they just stand there, look at you like you’re supposed to help them and then just walk away leaving their stuff there. People need to be less stupid.

  20. I know what you mean. I swear every single time I get to a 4-way stop it seems like the other drivers have completely forgotten how it works and just go at random. And the self check-outs? Ugh. I am a fan of the self check-out because that means less chance that someone is going to screw up and if someone does screw up, it’s me and I can deal with my own errors a lot better than if it is someone that clearly hates their job at the grocery store. I always seem to get behind someone who does exactly what you described like it’s the machine’s fault that they can’t follow directions. Sheesh!

  21. I also think it’s extremely annoying when you send e-mails and people don’t (seem to) read them, but have to ask everything again. Or anyone who doesn’t hear/listen and I have to repeat things all the time. Or anyone who can’t read simple instructions. Annoying. LOL to the self-checkout! 😀

  22. Reply all is the absolute worst. I do this all the time. I just did it last night and bit my tongue after- mortifying. I would love if you want to link this up on my Saturday laughs blog hop. Have a great weekend:)

  23. Even the governments don’t know how to deal with four way stops – when I moved to a new state I had to take a driver’s exam to get a license and I read the driver’s handbook just to refresh my memory. When I got to the part about four way stops, it stated that if multiple vehicles arrive at a four way stop at the same time then the person on your right has the right of way. ???! If there are multiple cars at a four way stop then there is someone on everyone’s right! So the government basically said – “you figure it out!”

    Self checkouts are annoying! But then again, I don’t even like using the little slide your credit/debit card machines at the checkout. All of them are different and I am the goofy person that is in front of you trying to match the card up with the picture on the machine showing which way to slide it through!

  24. You were one of the most clicked links at last week’s Finding the Funny. Featuring you tomorrow and pinning this. (Anna @mylifeandkids.com)

  25. Those are all right on the money! The four way stop thing drives me especially crazy. No one in this part of the country seems to remember how the whole right-of-way thing works, and it’s really not that hard.

  26. I hate self check-out. But some places the actual people checkers are so rude and annoying – and so slooooooow or actually see you coming with an arm load of stuff before turning their back so they can’t see you(they must be part cat) – or bestter yet let you drop everything on their counter before they announce they are going on break. It’s a lose-lose choice either way.

  27. I worked as a cashier for years. Years. I was competent (I could even carry on a conversation with a customer while scanning and bagging their items, and count back their change). And I still cannot get through a self-checkout transaction without having to call the attendant over. I don’t even try any more.

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