I may be the only man in America to admit that – sometimes – I need directions.

I need directions when I’m assembling any type of children’s toy or device. I need directions when I’m assembling any type of adult’s toy or device. And I especially need directions when I’m reprogramming the remote control, which I have to do every other day for some reason.

But there are some things that just don’t require directions, even for me and my fellow simpletons.

I came to this realization recently via the one item that rarely brings such epiphanies – the toothbrush.

I’m not one to give toothbrushes, or teeth, or math, much thought. But at some point, my wife was apparently told by some deranged health professional that you must purchase a new toothbrush with every tube of toothpaste. We have less oxygen going in and out of our house than we have toothbrushes. They’re all over the place.

I happened upon the newest additions to our toothbrush family the other day, still wrapped in its fancy little package.

Being bored in the bathroom usually leads to bloodshed (see 1994’s Shaving Chest Incident), but this time, I chose to read the toothbrush box.

On the box, the following was written:

DIRECTIONS: Take toothbrush from box, using the exit at the top. To use toothbrush, place toothpaste on top of tooth brush bristles, not on the side. Place toothbrush in mouth, moving bristles in a side-to-side motion against the enamel of your teeth. Brush rigorously, then rinse mouth. Repeat.

Then at the bottom of the directions, the following was written: HELPLINE: If you have problems using this toothbrush, please call our 24-hour HELPLINE at ...

It then went on to list a 1-800 number for the HELPLINE. Yes, a toothbrush with its own directions, and a 1-800 HELPLINE (so important is has to be capitalized).

Now, I could understand needing to have directions to use a toothbrush for a 1-year-old infant, or an adult who has been raised by apes in the jungle and has just been returned to civilization.

But, usually – and I know I’m jumping to conclusions here – 1-year-olds and ape-men just released into civilized society can’t read.

This piqued my interest.

I mean, what kind of toothbrush emergencies can one have that would require 24-hour 1-800 number assistance?

“Yes, I’m placing the toothpaste on the brush, but it keeps falling off the bristles before it goes into my mouth! What am I to do?! Help! God save me from this horror!”

“Hold it, sir. First, calm down. Take a deep breath. This is not a life-or-death situation – yet.”

We barely can get the internet here, yet there’s a 24-hour hotline for people who can’t operate a manual toothbrush.

As stated, I need directions to open a can of soup, but even I don’t need directions on how to operate a toothbrush. On the times I miss my mouth and stick the toothbrush in my eye, I usually just quit and try again the next day.

Who needs directions for that?

Email Len Robbins at lrobbins@theclinchcountynews.com.

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