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Feltenstein’s Uncommon Wisdom: Following Directions Stinks


I find life more enjoyable when I follow directions literally, the way a naive child would. If a roadside sign says “No Outlet,” I don’t take the road unless I have batteries. If the form says, “Sign Here,” I sign H-E-R-E. If it says, “Print Your Name,” okay, I print Y-O-U-R N-A-M-E. When someone says “May I ask who’s calling?” I answer, “Sure, go ahead.” If the sign says “Don’t Throw Foreign Objects in the Toilet,” I report dropping something from Italy in the bowl. I especially enjoy trying out baby changing shelves, although our grandchildren don’t seem any different no matter how many times I put them on one.

One night, Sophie and I were driving home to Florida after visiting my son in Atlanta. I stopped at a truck stop at three A.M. As I entered the large dining area, I could see many tired truck drivers slumped over tables and counters. In the doorway a large homemade sign read, “Wet Floor.” I walked up to the sign and said in a loud voice to the waitress, “Do I do this before or after I eat?”

The waitress stopped in her tracks and all the drivers sat bolt upright to see what kind of lunatic had just come in. When they saw my smile they knew I was harmless and had not been let out on my own. I had a great time now that everyone was awake, and I got good service, too. Waitresses have to be careful — you never know whether a customer is serious or not.

The other day I was filling out a form in a physician’s office and I came to an item asking whether I have female problems. I checked “Yes,” I was serious about that one. After all, I have a girlfriend.

I walked into a coffee shop on Cape Cod and saw a sign that said, “Order Here.” I told the waitress to wash my car, vacuum our living room rug and then shop for us. She didn’t do a single thing I ordered her to do.

Not long after, I saw a bag in the pet store labeled, “Wild Bird Seed.” I bought the bag and could hardly wait to get it home. It was another disappointment. The seeds were as tame and well behaved as the seed I usually buy. I tried planting the seeds, but I couldn’t grow a single wild bird.



Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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