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Don’t you just love the instructions to put furniture together? All done iwith very clear pictures. No matter what your mother tongue is or whether you speak another language, it’s clear for everyone. The manufacturers have definitely saved a bundle not having to do translations.

However, have you noticed that the person displayed could be considered sexist. Looks like a man, but then again.  Again the instruction writers are being very clever.  After all, there would be a ton of complaints if they ever dared to suggest that only one gender can assemble items.

I recently put a set of patio furniture together. I dutifully unpacked all the pieces and matched with the list of contents. Then I sorted out all the nuts, bolts, screws into various piles and made sure I had the required number of each displayed. I am quite methodical in my approach. Unlike my husband, or many men, who either just ignore any written or pictorial instructions and just wing it. Not me. I actually enjoy seeing all the items lined up in neat rows. 

Having done that, it was time for a coffee break. 

Although the patio set was destined to go outside, I felt it better to assemble inside in the comfort of my apartment where I could sit on the carpet or chair. My apartment is quite small and had to move a few items out of the way to start the assembly. Ok, now all set.

Time for another coffee break.

Now the fun begins. I found the three pieces for one of the armchairs. Two sides and a bottom. Then I had to locate the A, B, C on one side to match the corresponding A, B, C on the other side. That part was easy but getting the screws to line up with the respective hole wasn’t working. Struggling to make the two holes line up ended up in having to move yet another piece of furniture as I now required more floor space. A bit of frustration was starting to build. Peering at the picture, I saw the two pieces seemed to be backwards.  At least I had them backwards.  It’s all very well matching the letters, but having the pieces in the correct way is important. Imagine. 

Now time for another break. Coffee with a dash of liqueur.

Feeling refreshed and more confident, I returned to the building site. I was delighted to see I had the two sides together and now all remained was to put on the bottom. Easier said than done as the holes weren’t lining up at all. As there were 3 on one side and 3 on the other, if one side matched, the others didn’t. No matter how much I pushed and pulled it wasn’t working and I was now taking over more floor space. More furniture to move. Frustration was definitely rising again but I was determined to conquer. 

The one thing pictures don’t do is to say how tight the screws should be placed. I had tightened the various screws quite well. After all it had to be secure in my opinion. Too well as it turned out. Remembering an old adage of my grandfather that too much braun is not good, I decided to loosen all the screws taking care not to totally displace them out of their holes. It worked. The bottom came together nicely and the unit was complete.

Time for a break and a celebration. No coffee, just the liqueur.

Despite the room now looking like the day I moved in with furniture piled on top of each other, I wasn’t at all bothered. Maybe the liqueur was having an effect. Or maybe it was just the euphoria of having completed one unit. Now it was time to put the chair outside. 

The assembled unit was now of course heavier than when the sides and bottom were separate and much more bulky. With the doorway being just a standard single size, it would mean a strategy to get it through. I really needed someone to help and I did vaguely remember seeing a picture at the beginning of the instructions showing two people. The manufacturers were not wrong. Having totally ignored that suggestion, I was faced with a conundrum. Call someone or just battle on. I knew my daughter was out of town until tomorrow and I really didn’t know anyone else having only moved in a few weeks ago. With the room now looking very unkempt, I was reluctant to leave it that way and decided to tackle moving the chair on my own.

Time for another break while considering the strategy. A good wine would help.

Making sure that the doorway was clear on both sides, I picked up the chair and approached the door with complete confidence. As the doorway was only 36 inches wide and the chair was 40 inches, I remembered I had to go at an angle to go around the gap. Fine, but the chair was heavy. It was now halfway through and I was feeling exhausted. Pressing on gallantly, with lots of wiggles, it finally made onto the patio, albeit blocking the doorway. Just a push and the chair was positioned and ready to receive the cushions. What a joy. The red cushions looked so cheerful and inviting. Grabbing the wine bottle, a few munchies and ignoring the war zone inside, I gravitated to the chair.

Time for a very well deserved break.

 Looking at the time, I found that it had taken me nearly 3 hours to complete this one chair. Obviously not the swiftest person on the block. The patio set consisted of 2 armchairs, 1 side chair, a stool and a coffee table. Although it might not take me as long for the next items now I had the know-how, I still calculated it would take me about another couple of hours per item. With 4 more to go, that meant another 8 hours. Sipping my wine I felt it was prudent to leave everything for another day. It was also turning out to be a lovely evening. A soft breeze, a robin signing close by and I was feeling very content. 

Definitely a time for a long break.

Have to hand it to the manufacturers and their instructions. Despite a few times of total frustration, they were easy to follow. Love the last page where it shows the completed item and a voila sign.  Yes, I felt the voila too. 

Maybe the manufacturers are in league with the wine makers and have deliberating elongated the assembly process to take the required and very necessary breaks. 

Love the breaks.

June 12, 2022 19:46

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1 comment

Lonnie Russo
18:56 Jun 20, 2022

I enjoyed reading this! You did a lovely job weaving in hints of some reality beyond into the narrative, structured by this construction project: a world where the reader can perhaps sense that "something" has happened. A daughter who is out of town; a new apartment with no known neighbors; a mentioned husband who is not present. But the protagonist overcomes, feels the "voila." The sense of accomplishment of the final "break" seems to me a reminder that there are moments where we can step away from the chaos (of life, of our messed up liv...


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