some years ago, though not Star Wars years, i was finally brave enough to go into a sex store. i had driven by this particular store countless times saying to myself, “i am going to go in there one day.” finally, one day, i pulled into the parking lot, parked my rental car, and got out of my car. now this was truly only possible because i was out-of-state; the risk of being seen was nearly zilch. next, i boldly opened the door and stepped into a new galaxy. (Star Wars theme music playing). the stuff in this store was intriguing, amazing and mind-blowing… pun intended. it took me one hour just to check out one aisle. after perusing the entire store, i did make a purchase. a side note, the cashier informed me that i should buy generic batteries as the brand names ones burned out the devices. interesting. you can tuck that bit of information away.
upon returning to my hotel room, i took out my newly purchased items and immediately got to looking for the directions. specifically, i was looking for the tightly folded white paper with tiny black print that usually comes with electronic purchases you know… the directions. there were none. ABSOLUTELY NONE! i then checked the exterior of the box rotating it looking for directions. there were none. ABSOLUTELY NONE! so i look again in the box and now the bag. nope, there were no directions to be found. i am not sure how long i spent looking, but i do remember i did not give up immediately. for a split second i pondered going back to the store or calling the store. i also thought about googling the directions, but that would mean using my work laptop. (no way was i having any public evidence of my escapade.) suddenly, out of nowhere it occurred to me if i needed directions, “sharlimar, you have a problem.”
so what is the point? here is the point. like most of my peers, i am from a time in which we were programmed to ALWAYS ALWAYS read the directions first before attempting anything. heaven forbid you did not read the directions. remember the horror stories we were told about not reading directions? i recall stories about people who could not read what they were signing and the deadly consequences such as losing their property or even children. i recall the zeros people received on assignments for not reading and following the directions. i recall being tested on reading and following directions: Maryland Comprehension Reading Test. i recall teachers asking if i had read the directions because i had started working on an assignment too quickly. how many times did you hear that many people failed to secure a job for failure to read and follow directions?
daily we were told in school to quietly read the directions to ourselves and to read the directions at least twice before asking any questions. inevitably some brave soul would raise their hand to ask a clarifying question, but before the student could ask their question the teacher asked, “Did you read the directions?” the brave soul replied, “Yes.” not that it mattered because she was told to read the directions again and then and only then if she still had a question to raise her hand to ask her question. (seriously, who was raising their hand again? raising her hand the first time took all the courage she could muster.)
when i was coming of age the process of learning, getting it, and syncing it was work. rarely were parents, adults and teachers just giving answers or information. for example, when we inquired about something like how to spell a word or what something meant or how to pronounce a word we were told to look it up in the dictionary. we were only told where we might find the answer/ information requested. now once you asked a question and you were guided in the direction to get the answer/information it was expected that you were going to locate the answer/information and report it back. in fact, you had no other choice. (you were going to learn today… ask a question if you want.) my people, Burn and Lee, waited for me to report back. what we did not know at the time was that they often did not have the answer; therefore, they were learning with us. they too wanted to know the answer/information.
while this method of teaching and parenting may be deemed harsh today, and yes it was brutal at times, this method of parenting and teaching made folk like us seek information, read the directions, and figure it out and most importantly not to give up. i do not expect to always understand the directions, figure it out, or find the information i am seeking, but the heck if i am not going to try. knowledge is a source of power. knowing how to acquire knowledge is more powerful.
it was a natural process for me to take the items out and look for the directions. fortunately, at some point it dawned on me everything does not come with directions and directions are not always required. sometimes you just know. and other times you don’t know a damn thing. so what do you do? you get to looking, learning, asking questions, or googling. it is a good habit to possess.