An Instructional Story

I learned a lesson in 4th grade which I've never forgotten.
It was about following instructions.

Prior to 4th grade, I was not a lover of school.
My mom told me that she took me to the bus for 1st grade every day,
and every day I cried.
Every day.
By 2nd grade, we had moved and I went to a different, new school.
No more crying.
But I didn't start loving school until 4th grade.  My teacher, Miss Hayley
and then Mrs. Harpe when she married, had a reputation as mean.
The fact that someone wanted to marry her was shocking to a 9-year-old.
She was old (maybe 40ish?) and mean (strict?).
However, she became my favorite teacher.

I think my mom conspired with Ms. Hayley/Harpe because
Ms. H/H seemed to pay special attention to me (and several others).
She encouraged all of us to challenge ourselves.
We had a timed quiz daily on the multiplication tables.
As soon as we could get 100% correct in 60 seconds or less,
we were exempted from taking that quiz again.

The lesson I learned on following instructions came from a quiz
she gave.  It was non-graded although we didn't know that at the time.
It was a one-page list of questions, all of which had easy answers
such as What is your room number at school?

Ms. H/H reminded us to put our names at the top right,
to turn our papers over when we were done,
and then to sit quietly until everyone was finished.
She told us to carefully read the directions at the top of the paper
and then, the quiz began.

The instructions said to read each and every question before actually
going back to #1 and starting to write our answers.
Somewhere near the end of the questions was a question something like this:
"As soon as you read this, you are done.  Turn over your paper."

So, did I follow the directions at the top of the quiz paper?
Nah.  I skimmed the questions, went back to #1 and started answering.

To my amazement, a couple of classmates turned over their papers
while I was still answering the first questions.
Do I remember smug looks on their faces?
I kept scribbling furiously and then I read the "As soon as you ..." question.
I stopped.
I looked at Ms. H/H.
Our eyes met and she smiled that little "gotcha" smile.
(Okay, I'm making that up, but it could be true.)

I turned over my paper and watched as others kept hurrying to get their answers down.
And then watched their faces as they, too, learned this lesson.

To this day, I read, then re-read directions and
then re-check the directions again after I'm done.
This includes recipes, PhotoShop instructions, and tasks at work whether the
instructions are from a boss, a client, a vendor, or a government agency.

Lesson learned.
Thank you, Ms. H/H.