I consider myself among that group of humans classified as “handy.” I can do basic plumbing and electrical repairs. I can build a deck. I can even operate a chainsaw without lopping off a foot (so far). But three words consistently strike fear into my heart: “some assembly required.”
Whether it’s a Christmas bicycle or a bookcase from Ikea, I know I am in for a painful, expletive rich ordeal before that bicycle is ready for a rider or that bookcase can accept the Great Books of the Western World.
It’s not that these products are inherently difficult to assemble—they’re not. It’s just that the instructions are so bad they’d baffle MacGyver.
Case in point, the new desk I assembled this weekend. It was made in China, so I naturally expected to see some translation problems, e.g., “screws of Phillip” instead of “Phillips screws.” But there were no words at all, only pictures of the various pieces, each identified by a letter, with dotted lines showing where each screw or bolt was to be inserted. Problem was, the concept of left and right and top and bottom was completely missing from the drawings. So it was two screws forward, two bolts back for more than four hours before I uttered a final, satisfying expletive, the completely assembled desk gleaming in the afternoon sun streaming through the bedroom window.
I’m still not sure why the legs on the right side of the desk are an inch shorter than the legs on the left, or why I have seven extra screws of Phillip, but I have a desk, and that’s all I ask.
I’m sure I’ll get used to my pencil rolling off the desk. If not, I guess I’ll just use some duct tape to keep it in place.
I mean, I am a handyman, right?