Sunday, June 07, 2009

Be Prepared: Follow the damn directions (a new rule for writers)

Once upon a time I went to Sears to buy a vacuum cleaner. I'd researched various makes and models on Consumer Reports. I had the model number and price for what I wanted neatly noted in permanent ink on my forehead (in reverse of course) so that the salesman wouldn't even have to ask what I needed.

A young man in a freshly purchased tie, knotted carefully by his mum for his first day on the job, approached me.

"Would you like to see a vacuum cleaner?"

Well, yes I would, and in fact (pointing at text) here's what I would like.

"Well madam," the brightly polished eager lad said, "we have many many fine vacuums. Here are several that will not only clean your carpet, they'll suck up all the unfair and inappropriate form rejection letters you receive; shred them; channel them to the nearest landfill where they can begin life anew."

Well, no, I don't want that. I want this (pointing to text in crisp TNR 12 on forehead)

"Madam, please, here is the top of the line HooverMover that will not only vacuum your floor it will give you a face lift while you sleep. Be careful of course to set the timing device for minutes not hours."

No, no, no. I don't want a HooverMover, I want THIS (pointing to forehead where text is not quite so crisp since the beads of sweat now require mopping rather than dabbing)

"Madam, I assure you I'm just trying to be of service here. Of HELP to you. Here is our HooverMoover Schmoozer model. It vacuums your floor, lifts your face AND attends cocktail parties for you. There's absolutely nothing like it on the market. It's the very D in deluxe."

I do not want a HooverMoverSchmoozer, dammit. I want THIS! I scream, and with that seize the canister vacuum Model TRex001 and whap the poor defenseless lad on the head, stalk to the cash register, pay out my simoleons, repair to the parking lot, mount the vacuum cleaner and ride home. (My normal conveyance, the broom, had run off with the cow and the spoon and I needed new transportation.)

Lest you need the moral explained, herewith: Don't be helpful. Don't tell me what I want or need. Follow the damn directions. IF the directions are not clear, ask for clarification. Do not try to anticipate my needs. I know what I need. I've been doing this for awhile now.

If I want a synopsis the word synopsis will appear after the phrase "please send me a"

If I want you to format something in some odd and strange way OTHER than what appears on my website, blog, guide listings, agency website etc, you will see the phrase strange and odd format following the phrase "I've lost my mind so I'll want you to send this in a"

Any questions?



tinkandalissa said...

I think I love you...

roadkills-r-us said...

I mainly got it before, but now I totally get it. I've walked out on salespeople who weren't listening. I've walked away and found another salesperson at the same store. But if you aren't listening, you've probably lost me.
This is also why I'm not in retail sales. Most places seem to want you to upsell, rather than listen to the customer and give them what they want. So in fairness, this is what the whole US economic system has been teaching us.