I suppose I could look at my life and question the vocation I chose. If I had been a better cook, I could have been a chef. If I had applied myself, I could have been a doctor. However I don’t have regrets about not becoming an engineer. I practiced that vocation last night when I purchased a piece of particle board furniture from my local retailer.
The picture on the box made it look so simple and easy. Two sides, one back, and three shelves, how difficult could it be? It threw me for a loop when I opened the cardboard cavern at home and three zip-lock baggies with a thousand pieces fell out. I was giddy. “They think of everything, I get a snack cake while I assemble this silly thing.”Sadly it turned out to be screws, dowels and wood pasties. Actually, it should have included a sack lunch because this procedure was going to take as long as the birth of our last child. Same scenario: bewilderment, intermittent screams of agony, the same questions running through my head, “what was I thinking, and did I really need another one of these?”
The instructions looked like it should have been written on papyrus and found in an ancient clay pot. The illegible multitude of foreign languages on the flyer looked like a manifesto from ancient Mesopotamia. Good luck putting this train wreck together without having spare parts left over! I felt like the TV character McGyver. Here is your oatmeal box, grass clippings and weed whacker string, make a useable bomb.
As I placed side A on it’s left side, inserted Side C into B, I attached D, it dawned on me that the devil had acquired a new weapon. This piece of sawdust particles holding hands was a conspiracy to make God-fearing people lose their Christianity. I know this because the nails were small. I crushed my thumb three times with the tack hammer (no naughty words so far). Two of the screws went too deep and poked out the finish on one of the sides. After assembling it, my little Tower of Pisa had one panel backwards thereby giving me a finished piece facing inward not outward. I could have lived with it, but it gave me the same feeling I get when I see a cheap toupee worn sideways; it irritated me to death. So I took it apart and reassembled it. This time I did it without the back piece attached, then I reinspected it.
Pathetically flimsy with an acute case of scoliosis was my initial diagnosis. Who would have thought the cardboard backing would literally be the spine of the whole operation? Now fully assembled, I stood back to see whether my ‘masterpiece” resembled it’s picture on the box. It did if you compare Phyllis Diller to Miss America and believe they’re identical twins.
Now scratched on the front from laying it down to nail on the back. Two holes now prominent on the exterior right side, from the protruding screws. This rickety barnyard biscuit was now useable only if it was placed on a right hand wall to hide the large sawdust pimples from the protruding screws. My attempt at carpentry and engineering had reached it’s climactic zenith.
Three blood pressure pills and one anti-depressant later, I’ve decided next time I’m paying my daughter $25 to put my furniture together. At least while she’s banging her thumb with the tack hammer, I can be sipping ice tea in my hammock happily singing, “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.”