Friday, 20 January 2012

Perfectly Legal Torture

There’s a horrible form of torture going on all around us and nobody’s doing anything to stop it.  Most likely, someone you know has suffered through it, a family member, close friend, lover.  Maybe even you—and you’ve suppressed the memory so deep into your subconscious you won’t recall the pain and agony until it happens to you again.  There’s probably a scary, scientific name for it, but for now, I’ll just call it Putting Shit Together.

Oh, you remember now, don’t you?  That thing you bought from Ikea/Jysk/Home Depot?  That just perfect item for the den/bedroom/living room that came with 67 pieces and 387 nuts & bolts and that extra piece you just have no idea where it goes?  Christmas is a particularly vulnerable time for the unsuspecting gift-giver (and receiver).  Did you give someone misery for Christmas? 

Just recently I moved to a new home, which is why this topic is foremost in my mind.  A new home means new spaces that need to be filled (and not just with shoes).  I have put together so many things lately that I have enough left-over Allen wrenches to make a funky sculpture.  The worst offender was the coat rack I desperately needed for they front entrance, because you just know how great kids are about putting things on hangers, so I thought I’d save myself some grief and get something with hooks instead. Silly me.  Apparently they don’t understand how to use hooks either or find them scary, I'm not sure which.

My first clue should have been the beginning paragraph of the supposed instructions, warning me not to tighten any of the bolts more than half-way.  Okay.  I obeyed ‘cause I can follow directions (well, sometimes), and proceeded to put the damn thing together.  Somewhere out there the evil manual-writing people (whose first language is not English) are laughing their asses off, wicked gleams sparkling in their respective eyes.

Step one said to follow the diagram exactly, which I did, although I didn’t use a magnifying glass, dictionary, or the power of the Force, sorry to say.  So, around step 47 I had an epiphany.  There’s a reason you aren’t supposed to tighten the bolts and it’s because you have to take the whole thing apart and start over from step one.  Why? Let me explain how this works. 

You must start over because you put the two pieces together backwards.  Never mind it looked exactly the same as in their diagram, but when you get to step 48, the bolt holes don’t line up as shown in the newest diagram.  Now the instruction sheet writers knew you would do this (as you had a 50% chance of doing it wrong, but Murphy’s Law said nah, 100% chance) which is why they are laughing, from some tropical place, at your suffering.

At this point you curse under your breath (or aloud, very loud), take it all apart and begin again.  Your hands begin to ache.  Your head throbs.  The Allen wrench clatters from your cramped fingers to the floor, skids like it had wheels and falls through the slats of the heating vent on the floor eight feet away.  The dog thinks you are crawling around on the floor expressly for his entertainment and not only French kisses you, licks your eyeball with the accuracy of a government trained sniper.  If you don’t break a nail (below the bed of course) prying off the vent cover, you cut yourself on the sharp (and rusty) edge.  But what the hell—you recall hearing dog slobber has antibacterial properties and since he already had his tongue in your mouth…and you had a tetanus shot ten years ago…you finally retrieve the tiny wrench from the unidentifiable (and you don’t want to know) gunk from down in the vent and pick up where you left off. 

You finish.  Then bask in the head rush of satisfaction, and, admit it now, pride, that you have accomplished this great and wonderful thing.  The head rush lasts roughly 30 seconds until you realize there are 3 bolts/screws/metal thingies left over.  And your construct is leaning/listing/disassembling itself as you watch…

After this you will likely do one of the following:

  1. Cry
  2. Swear
  3. Throw things while having an epic hissy fit
  4. Phone the number on the instructions, you know, the toll-free number where it says someone will help you? (Hope you know your call will be re-routed to a call center in India/Malaysia/Newfoundland and you won’t understand a word they’re saying…)
  5. Take it back (you didn’t destroy the packaging it came in, did you? Oh, sorry, I know those giant staples rip cardboard like nothing else, and that plastic/Styrofoam is so delicate/fun to pop/snap into clingy bits)
  6. Shove it somewhere in the garage and hope it comes back to life and reassembles itself (just so you know, you will get caught and bitched out for taking this step.  Do not forget to hide the receipt and have a handy, all-purpose lie ready that you were given this thing by [insert name of person intensely disliked by person bitching] and all it needs is one screw/bolt/metal thingy to fix and then wouldn’t it look perfect in the…man cave…workshop…and if you’re a guy, try saying that wonderful new hobby/sewing/spa room you’re gonna build for her…)
  7. All of the above

However, might I suggest one last option…?

  1. Wipe sweat off brow, blood onto pant leg, dog slobber along sleeve and do what any sensible person would do under the circumstances:  Phone your Dad.  If that’s not an option, use plan B and call husband/wife/retired nosy neighbor/brother/cute guy down the road who’s been trying to get into your pants dying to ask you out and get them to put it together for you.

Problem solved.

** Next time just go with #8 first. Beer/hamburgers/cookies/gas money/kinky sexual favors will be so much easier.


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