story time

Hey Kimli! Why are you so anal about RTFM?

When I was in Grade 4, our teacher handed out a test. He told us to carefully read the test first before we started filling in the answers. This was also printed on the top of the page. Naturally, everyone immediately started completing it, including me .. until I got to question 9 or so, which was to “stand up and shout ‘I’m first!'”.

I’ve always been a very fast reader, and I’ve always had social anxiety. When I got to that question (first, because speedy teacher’s pet), I froze. I couldn’t do it. I scanned the rest of the questions, and they all involved making some sort of spectacle of yourself: sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star aloud, run around the room backwards, do a dance beside your desk. I was horrified. Nine-year-old Kimli was not there for any of that shit.

I read until I got to the end of the page, where the full instructions were. The test was 20 “questions” long, but the directions specifically stated you were to fill in your name and answer the first two questions, and STOP. That was it.

After the test (which I’m sure was just an excuse for “quiet” time for my teacher), he asked the class “okay, who finished the test?”. Everyone put their hand up except me. “And who DIDN’T finish the test?” My hand went up, and the class went “whaaaat” because I was the best student in the class (remember this is grade 4 so basically it meant I could do basic multiplication and conjugate things). I was the ONLY ONE who read the entire quiz and followed the instructions*. The quiz wasn’t testing our ability to sing off key, it was testing our ability to RTFM.

I never forgot that lesson, even if I only “succeeded” (test didn’t affect our grades obviously) because of extreme social anxiety.

And that’s why you always leave a note read the fucking manual.

*: I did actually complete the first 8 questions, but in pencil and I had a really good eraser. When I realized what was up, I erased my answers past #2. So the lesson here is really “RTFM and cover your tracks”.

Apologies if I’ve told this story before. My blog is nearly 20 years old with around 15 years of DAILY content, so I’ve long since run out of things to talk about.

photo bomb!

4 thoughts on “story time

    • When I posted this on my friend’s wall, I suggested she write up a similar exercise for her kid but make the steps custom to things she absolutely would balk at doing: eat an entire , give $20 to her sister, take a bath with her clothes on. Stuff that would make her stop and hopefully read carefully to see if this thing was serious, as the issue stems from her handing in homework and not getting full marks because she didn’t follow the instructions. I didn’t think it was cruel really, all the things we were asked to do were really silly (and no one cared about the mental health of kids in the 80s, c’mon).

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