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Read Directions Before Using to “Avoid It Fall Down”

All I really needed to know was how to push the red and blue buttons!

Fellow columnist David Simmonds who pens an often hilarious column in the Wellington Times, devoted one of his efforts a couple months ago to those directions, or lack thereof, that accompany products we buy. Often, as he pointed out, the directions or user guide will be very general in nature, and refer to several different models or designs made by that company. It is an exercise in futility sometimes to determine what product part the directions are talking about, when, in fact, your particular model may not even have it. Similarly, the part and its function that you need to know about isn’t even mentioned. Says David Simmonds, in addressing the manufacturer, “If you have to prepare a user guide, for goodness sake get to the point. Just tell me which product I have bought, tell me what it’s for, show me how to use it, explain how you stand behind it, then shut up and forget the legal drivel.”

 
I congratulated David for this column by e-mail, and proceeded to tell him how sometimes directions on usage and warnings about the product can get lost in translation. Consider the directions I found on the back of a water cooler that I purchased last year from Picton Home Hardware.  Here is what a small six inch by four inch piece of paper containing the instructions, pasted to the back of the water cooler,  said. “This product is not intended to be used by the people who has the disfigurement on their body, sense organ and intelligence. Also for the one who is in lack of experience and common sense (including the children). Only in condition that they are payed (sic) enough attention by the person who is responsible for their safety can these people use the product under the instruction of their guardian.”
 
The user guide continues: “Warning – Do not use flammable appliances inside the food storage compartment of the appliance, unless they are type recommended by the manufacturer.”
 
Remember, now – this is a water cooler we are talking about, and one which does not have a food storage container – at least, not one that I have been able to locate anyway.
 
We read on, “In the back of water dispenser there is a fixing sheet, consumers should connect the fixing sheet with the wall or unmoved object by themselves, in order to avoid it fall down.”
 
I never did find the “fixing sheet”, but, so far, the water cooler continues to purr along just fine, but I lay awake at night wondering if my appendix scar could be interpreted as a “disfigurement on my body”. The scar is dangerously close to my sense organ and intelligence.  However, I did take some extra precaution and mounted the cooler on a sturdy wooden base, “in order to avoid it fall down.”
 
One day I will resume my search for the food storage compartment in my new water cooler, and will be sure not to ignite anything flammable in there. Far be it for me to admit that I had neglected to read their directions due to “my lack of experience and common sense”.
 

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About the Author: Terry Sprague became interested in nature at an early age. "Growing up on the family farm at Big Island, 12 miles north of Picton, on the shore of the beautiful Bay of Quinte, I was always interested in the natural world around me. During my elementary school days at the small one-room school I attended on Big Island, I received considerable encouragement from the late Marie Foster, my teacher in Grades 6 through 8. Her home was a short distance from where I lived and through the years she was responsible for developing my interest in birds. The late Phil Dodds, a former editor with the Picton Gazette, also a great nature enthusiast, suggested I undertake a nature column - a column I have submitted weekly since 1965. The column has since expanded to the Napanee Beaver and the Tweed News. Life has been good, and through the years I have enjoyed working with such nature related agencies as Glenora Fisheries Research as a resource technician, Sandbanks Provincial Park as a park interpreter and Quinte Conservation as a naturalist and outdoor events coordinator. As a nature interpreter, currently working from my home office, I now create and lead numerous interpretive events in the area and offer indoor audio/visual presentations to interested groups. Could one who is interested in nature have enjoyed a more exhilarating period in the work force?" Terry's website is www.naturestuff.net

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  1. Louisa says:

    I think Dave said it best! You’ve recounted a particularly funny sample of these translations – they’ve just got to translate the meaning, not the actual word for word. Good thing we can ‘read between the lines’ on these things, and can use our common sense. But have you discovered the food storage compartment yet?

  2. Just wait until I do a blog on newspaper typos, Dave!

  3. Dave Bell says:

    Thanks a lot. I almost pissed myself. I’ve seen some of these before, but this is the best yet. Probably has to do with a poorly deployed automated Chinese to English translation.

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