Friday, September 6, 2013

Life's complicated instructions

Belladonna hates the Cavalier.

Complicated instructions:

I used to work with a lady named Carol Grove.  One of her activities was to pre-screen potential employees for jobs in a factory.  That is, jobs assembling pieces-parts into functional items.

The center piece of the pre-screening was to assemble a simple clock.

The written instructions were handed to the prospect and they were allowed to read them.

The prospect was asked if they had any questions.  Those questions were answered.

Then the instructions were read out loud to the prospect and they were asked if they had any questions.

Then the instructions were demonstrated to the prospect.  The clock was a round base with two vertical spindles (posts).  One of the posts had a black gear already in place at its base.  Three bins at the back of the work-space held double gear sets.

Like this but with a hole through the center
The gear sets had another characteristic.  Each sub-gear was painted a specific color.  One bin of gears held Black + White gears.  The next bin held White + Green gears.  And the third bin held Green + Red gears.

The instructions were to start with a Black + White with the Black side down to mate with the Black gear already in place.  Then to assemble a White + Green with the White side down to mate with the exposed White gear...and so on.  Black-to-Black, White-to-White, Green-to-Green.

The prospect could also see that the gears were different sizes and the spacing of the spindles prevented a misassembly, even if you were Red/Green colorblind.

Then the face of the clock (with a Red gear driving the hand) was snapped into place.

The final instruction was to pick up the assembly and to turn the crank on the back three times in a clockwise direction (direction illustrated by arrow painted on the back of the clock) and observe the hands turn in the while doing so.

All of these steps were demonstrated by the screener.

The screener verbally told the prospect that this was not a timed test, that accuracy was the most critical issue.

The screener pointed out that a laminated copy of the instructions were taped to the work bench for easy reference.

The prospect was asked if they had any questions.

Then the prospect was instructed to assemble the clock using the instructions they had been trained on.

Between 80% and 90% of the prospects failed to check their work by lifting the clock out of the fixture and turning the crank 3 times in a clockwise direction.

They were not invited back to the second part of the screening process.

Belladonna hates the Cavalier

The Cavalier has a manual transmission.  That is part of the reason I was able to pick it up for $1300.

Belladonna is struggling with launching the vehicle.

She will mash the clutch pedal all the way down to the floorboard.  That is good because that gives her a consistent spacial frame of reference.

She will slowly lift up her foot to find the friction point.

And then BAM!  Every time she yanks her foot off the pedal as soon as she finds the friction point.

She somehow got it cross-threaded into her head that her job was done once she had found the friction point.

She is mad and angry and frustrated that this car stalls out.  She is an extraordinarily good athlete and physical things have always come easily to her.  That 'athletic' thing does not play to her advantage because it is not a matter of trying harder or moving faster to win.

A couple of the guys drive manual transmissions and they are razzing her.  To my ear, it is the kind of razzing that good friends engage in when they have an advantage they know is temporary.  I get the sense that they are impressed that she is joining the elite league of people who can drive manual transmissions.

I have confidence that she will prevail.  She will prevail and it will give her immense satisfaction and a lifelong skill.

But for now, I am getting tired of hearing what a "piece of poop" my beloved Cavalier is.


  1. Ain't nothing wrong with that car, it's all operator error. Ya gotta learn how to operate a clutch, but that's the thing that a neophyte takes the longest to learn. Once you've got it, it's yours forever.

  2. Hello Pawpaw: Thanks for commenting. You are right about the clutch. Nearly everything is so gizmoed up so operators can multitask. It is quite a shock to run into something where you actually have to PAY ATTENTION and modify what you do to accommodate the device.

    I played the following You-tube piece for her. Maybe she will go down-tempo.


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