Giving my Manual the Cold Shoulder

When my brother was here visiting recently, he was telling me about a friend with a new car who couldn’t figure out how to use all the features in their new auto.  Believe me, I can sympathize.  I have a new Sienna van and I’ve yet to figure out many of the things it can do.  The owner’s manual is the size of a medium-sized novel and about as coherent as a Russian tragedy translated into Japanese by a native French-speaker.

I pointed this all out to my brother.   “Maybe you could show this person how to work some of the features,” I suggested.

“I have,” he groused.  “It hasn’t made any difference.  They need to get in there and try the stuff out for themselves and then they’ll figure it out.  That’s the only way you’ll learn something….trial and error.”

“I don’t agree,” I countered.  “For example, what I’d find really useful would be to have little flashcards made up of the main functions I wanted to learn in step-by-step order so if I wanted to know how to do something like ‘open my back vents’, I could pull out that card and follow the steps until I was familiar enough with the procedure to not need the card.”

He didn’t agree.  “Shouldn’t need that,” he said.

My sister-in-law leaned over and whispered, “I understand completely.”

Later, when she and I were out for a drive, I mentioned how lucky I was that I hadn’t needed the air conditioning yet.

“I STILL haven’t figured out how to turn on the air conditioning, ” I told her, “but it hasn’t mattered because all I do is turn the temperature control to whatever temperature I want and the car cools right down.  It’s great.  I don’t know how it does it but it’s one less thing I have to figure out in that stupid manual.”

“You haven’t turned on your air conditioning at all yet?” she asked.

“Nope,” I replied, pleased as punch with my fortitude and work-around skills.

“Then why does it say “AC on” there on your dashboard screen?” she asked.

“Where?”, I asked her.

“Right there,” she said, pointing to the little screen above my stereo.  That screen has all sorts of info on it but I usually only focus on a few things, like the time, the current temperature outside, and the fan setting.  By golly, she was right!  There, off to the left in little letters, it said my AC was indeed on.  There’s no little light on the actual AC button where you’d expect to see an indicator that your AC was on, …….just that notice on the screen.

Wow, no wonder my car has cooled right off whenever I’ve turned down the temperature dial.  Come to think of it, the AC has probably been “on” all winter.  Luckily, I usually have the temp set around 74-76 degrees.  I don’t care to be cold.  Hmmm, that also might explain why my gas mileage has been so bad.

I rather shudder to think what other controls I might have fiddled with in the car without realizing what I was doing.  Maybe I’d better go make up some flashcards while this experience is still fresh in my mind.

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