Things you've been surprised you've had to explain at work

If I don’t know left / right, I’m sure not going to know East. Or starboard.

When I was a kid, my dad was watering the lawn and he asked me to go to the faucet and turn off the water. I ran over the faucet and yelled “which way is off?” He said “to the right.”

Now, I was old enough at the time to know the difference between right and left. But I looked at the knob on the faucet and saw that if the top of the knob went to the right, the bottom would be going to the left, so I still didn’t know which way to turn it.

I don’t know about the Airman in ROtB’s unit, but the idea that “right” and “left” mean the top of the dial may have been the source of his confusion.

I use spreadsheets for certain types of lists, because the table/dividing lines are conveniently already there. If I used Word or an equivalent, I would have to insert a table.

…until all the analog clocks are gone.

I knew an accounting woman from years ago that wrote letters and other documents in Lotus. It was her go to program for accounting, why not everything else?

The first company I worked for after college had a company wide policy to write every text document in fucking Page Maker. No, that’s not a word processor, and it was a pain in the ass and a nightmare. And it wasn’t a publishing house or a newspaper, but a technology company. Madness.

When giving directions, my mother used to look at her hand for the wedding ring. No idea what she did before she got married.

Mom was left-handed and was “changed” in grade school. As a southpaw myself I find this barbaric. She found her way around just fine, but the smart ones learned to just follow and not ask questions.

True; and in fact it has a few apps built in. I didn’t say what I mean very clearly. What it doesn’t seem able to do is to get any additional apps which it didn’t come with; which means, among other things, that it can’t read bar codes, or get any of the assorted covid apps, such as the one New York State’s using to provide proof of vaccination.

It is a sort of Android system, but a limited one. It’s a Verizon Kyocera Dura chosen for its ability to fit in a pocket without risk of falling out and to survive being worn while I’m doing field work – it’s highly water resistant and shock resistant.

Some people probably have no problems with east and west but do have problems with left and right. East and west relate to the sun, and don’t move depending on how the speaker moves. Left and right relate to the body, and switch around both relative to how the person’s oriented to whatever object’s in question, and relative to who’s speaking and how that person’s oriented to whatever’s in question.

There are some entire societies that don’t use left and right, only east, west, etc.

I use them for harvest check and weight sheets, because I can print the grid on a page (some of which gets filled in by hand on a clipboard). But it’s always massively annoying when I have to change anything more than the variety names for that week. Even trying to change the size of a cell never works the way I think it ought to.

Decades ago my boss told me about an interview he had just finished of a prospective new hire.

“Writing is an important part of this job. What can you tell me about your writing skills?”

“You can usually make it out.”

Not what the boss was wondering… but a useful answer.

I learned how to tell left from right because I can snap my fingers on my right hand, but not on the left; that was me in second grade. Now I’m much older, and I occasionally still snap my right hand when thinking about left or right, mostly out of habit.

I teach a Microsoft Office class, and you would be surprised (or maybe not) how often the cell in the answer has just a number, not a formula. “But it’s the right number!” I tell the students that it’s like math class - you have to show your work.

When I was a scoutmaster, on the first day at summer camp I had the first year scouts write a letter home which I then mailed. I supplied the envelopes, stamps, and paper, but most importantly where on the envelope the stamp, return address, and mailing address go. (I also had their home addresses, which some of the scouts didn’t know, especially the zip code.) Even though the scouts possibly got home before the letters arrived, my hope is that the parents kept the letters for many years.

(Now if anyone could show me how to do the fancy multi-quote thingy, that’d be useful.)

A good friend of mine, who’s an IT consultant, is the same way about Excel. I once joked to him, “I bet that your will is in Excel.” He gave me a look, and replied, “No comment.” :smiley:

I read a novel written in Excel once. The plotting was great, but the writing was formulaic.

Highlight the first bit you want to quote; then click on the quote button that shows up in the post you’re quoting when you do that.

Type something into the resulting reply window; then put your cursor where you want the next quote, and go highlight that and click on the quote button again (whether in the same post or in a different one; and you can do this as many times as you want to, or as you think anybody’ll read.)

I hope it was –

ETA: but I keep trying to do it in another message board that’s not on Discourse, and getting frustrated when it doesn’t work!

In fact, some organizations do security so poorly, that they make users change their passwords on some regular schedule.


I bet it had at most 65535 lines

That doesn’t add up.

Very cool - thanks! (Glad I don’t have to teach this in a classroom setting_

Well, you are not my dad. The man had an incredible sense of direction*. And spending a World War on big ships ingrained port & starboard into the guy.

*which I inherited… it’s a really fun skill. (Not a “gift”, I just keep track in the background).


At our camp, the leader had us write a letter to our five-years-older selves. He then waited to mail the letters, long after we’d forgotten them.

Another L-R bit here-

When I was a kid (1st grade), left and right confused me. Also, I was always putting my snow boots (rubber ones worn over regular shoes) on the wrong feet at the end of the day. Mom wrote an L in one and a R in the other but that did no good! Eventually my dad showed me the difference in shapes of the shoes and why one fit on one foot better than the other. I pointed out to him that it was a much bigger difference in the shapes of the shoes and feet on grownups- the soles of my boots were nearly identical. Anyway, I didn’t have a problem with the L-R shoe thing again.

It is true my mom (also my kindergarten teacher) said I was left handed and the first grade teacher changed me. My old 1st grade teacher denies it. Perhaps Mom (a leftie) made me a leftie when I was really a righty- who knows?

I used to teach science, mostly biology and physical science. I lost count of the other teachers who would mispronounce meiosis, Mendeleev, pumice, and Punnett. Many also couldn’t understand why parts from new equipment kits would go missing when they would immediately separate and “organize” all the parts into little trays and boxes instead of keeping them in their original packaging! If you just return the parts to the box they came in, that’s where they’ll be!

I knew a very gifted biomedical scientist with the same issue. He got his wife to put his watch on his left arm every morning so he could keep left and right straight. This was ironic because he also could not read an analog watch! He was otherwise one of the most amazing intellects I ever met. Brilliant guy.