Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I Should Have Read the Instructions

Perhaps I'll learn my lesson this time . . .

Saturday, I was whipping up a new batch of bread dough and decided to use my newly-acquired stand mixer to make the job easier. I combined the warm water, yeast, salt,and flour in the bowl, then plopped the mixture under the beaters. I didn't plan to read the directions. I didn't need to; my seven-year-old was taking care of that and reading the entire instruction booklet out loud to me. He kept saying, "Mom, it says so-and-so" or "you should do this." Of course, I didn't pay attention. I didn't need to because I never read directions. So, I flipped on the mixer, looking forward to not having to stir the thick dough and then put my hands in the squishy goo to complete the process. No, using the mixer was definitely going to be easier. The first few seconds using the dough hooks in the mixer went well, and then things started to go downhill. Uphill, actually . . .The dough started traveling up the dough hooks and over the sides of the bowl going everywhere. Somehow this wasn't working out to be any easier, and it certainly wasn't turning out to be any neater. Now I had to clean up the splattered dough and try to make edible bread out of it. To make it even worse, the dough had risen up the bread hooks so quickly, that it had gone up into the mixer (which I had to spend an extended time trying to dredge out using toothpicks since nothing else would fit in the tiny, little holes). You can compare the dough in the hole on the right side to the dough-free hole on the left side.
I have a problem with reading directions. My problem is that I don't read them. I'm perfectly capable of doing so, but it's such a waste of time, especially where electronic things are concerned. I still haven't read the directions for my camera or my cell phone, as well as my car or anything else electronic that I own. I tend to take a trial-and-error approach to figuring things out and only dig out the directions when I have gotten so frustrated that I can stand it no longer. Yes, I understand that I would save myself lots of irritation and actually figure out all the gadgets' bells and whistles if I read the instructions, but that still probably won't change my mind about doing so.

Strangely, I do read directions about one thing- traveling. Before going to any trip, I usually delve into one or two guidebooks about my destination. Admittedly, I have picked up lots of great tidbits along the way, like how to ride with the monorail driver at Disney World and that you can get a great free view of the Statue of Liberty by riding the Staten Island Ferry. These successes still haven't persuaded me to read any other directions, though.
So, back to baking . . . After my dough disaster the other day, I promised myself that I would read the directions when cooking from now on. But, guess what, I messed up again. Sunday, when I was making a carrot cake (from a mix; I've never attempted carrot cake from scratch), I ripped open the carrot and raisin packet and poured its contents in a bowl. Only after reading the next direction did I realize that I was supposed to pour the fruit and orange veggie into a bowl of warm water, so I had to backtrack and start all over again. If I could have, I would have kicked myself right then and there.

What is so ironic is the fact that I am always telling my kids, "Slow down and read the directions. Pay attention to what you are doing." When my husband and I got our daughter a keyboard for her birthday, I told her to read the direction book so she could figure out everything the keyboard could do, knowing full well that I would never read the instructions myself.
Obviously, I haven't learned my lesson about reading directions and doubt I ever will. Honestly, since I am so regimented and organized in most areas of my life, it is nice to let a little chaos seep in somewhere.

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