Sunday, July 16, 2006
fuck those germans...
Amongst my many atrocious habits is a steadfast refusal to read most manufacturers’ instruction booklets in any sort of detail. Even when I can be bothered scanning them, the English section is often sandwiched somewhere between the Spanish, Arabic or Serbio-Montenegrin translations, the information contained therein uniformly long-winded, boring, over-technical, under-technical, incomprehensible, childishly insulting, or meant for every model in the product range other than the one I possess.
So far the worst thing that ever happened as a result of my ignoring instructions has been the complete yellowing of my hair whilst trying to add a touch of Drew Barrymore-blonde.
Last week I was attempting to install my new, state-of-the-art, ‘Bosch Clothesmaster 5000’ front-loading washing machine, which is only marginally cheaper than a ‘Mercedes-Benz 190E’ front-wheel drive motor car.
The washer came in a large, Paddington-terrace-sized cardboard box, most of which was taken up by polystyrene packing material. ‘Bosch’ should offer buyers a lifetime supply of washing powder to any customer who can open the box and locate the appliance inside within 2 hours.
Christ knows I couldn’t.
With typical German efficiency, the instructions/warranties for the washing machine came in an equally large box, except there was no packaging material inside; it was all booklets.
There was an historical brochure on the ‘Bosch Company’, detailing its humble beginnings back in 1886 making automatic frankfurter-boilers, to its continuing research into zero-gravity dishwashers for the moon. There was a directory listing every ‘Bosch’ distributor on the planet, complete with phone/fax numbers, addresses, websites, and a photo of each head sales-representative on-site. There was a catalogue containing every ‘Bosch’ appliance currently being offered for sale, accompanied by a 200-page amendment showing which of these products are not currently available. All up, there was enough literature to fill the old library in Alexandria.
Now remember, we’re talking about a washing machine.
It has some hoses, and an electrical power cord; it doesn't require an engineering degree to work out what goes where...
So, I connected the hoses, plugged it in and turned it on. The 600 horse-power, Kevlar/titanium, V-10, super-charged power plant started to turn over, there was a terrible screeching noise, a rending of metal on metal, a violent shaking movement and within 30 seconds it had completely destroyed itself.
When the smoke cleared I started frantically searching through the mountain of booklets in a desperate attempt to discover what had happened.
There were reams of useful tips for what I could or couldn’t do with my new, 200 kg washing machine. These included a handy hint that it was not meant to be used as a floatation device for teaching children to swim, and a warning to seek medical advice if I swallowed it. No one could accuse the ‘Bosch’ legal/technical departments of dereliction of duty in regard to neutralizing any potential law suits.
At the very END of the installation instructions, although handily entitled 'Transportation Instructions' was a brief paragraph on 'TRANSPORT BOLTS', which are things inserted into the washing machine at the ‘Bosch’ factory to secure the stainless-steel drum during transportation. Even had I bothered to read the instructions, I wouldn't have read THESE, as I would have concluded (wrongly, as it happens) that the transportation phase of the operation had finished with the delivery of my boxes. Buried away in this final section was an apocalyptic warning of the consequences of NOT removing these bolts before attempting to use the machine. These consequences apparently included a terrible screeching noise, a rending of metal on metal, violent shaking movements and guaranteed destruction of the entire machine within 30 seconds.
Well, they certainly got that right.
Not the sort of guarantee I had hoped for, but nevertheless an extremely accurate forecast.
I was thinking about my $1500 pile of high-tech scrap-metal this morning, as I was studying the instructions for opening a packet of cigarettes and I came to the conclusion that my life was simply meant to serve as a warning to others...