February 11, 2006

Assembly Required.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 4:38 pm

Screwdriver.jpgDemonstrating for once and for all his boundless sense of adventure, or his utter recklessness, my buddy Eric has taken on the task of putting this beast together. So far, the score is Nordic Beast-1, Eric-0. I suspect that, if he doesn’t shoot the thing while it is in a semi-assembled state, he will eventually prevail, although the job would probably go a bit easier with a tall drink of Mead.

One of the lessons I have learned the hard way is that if something “requires assembly,” or, worse yet, is advertised with the words “Some assembly required” it is to be avoided at all costs. It is why, for example, I am using a barbecue grill that is sorely in need of replacement. The assembly of that grill years ago took the better part of half a day, left me with a part that seemed to go nowhere and made for some nerve-jangling moments the first time I fired it up. Upon finishing such a task some do-it-yourselfers report feeling a great sense of accomplishment. I, on the other hand, look at the completed object that just stole a piece of my life with nothing by utter contempt.

Which brings me to the desk at which I am now sitting.

It is a fairly complicated bit of furniture. On the top it has a unit that contains vertical (two sizes) and horizontal cubbyholes and a two-door cabinet on the right, with spring-loaded doors held closed by magnets. On the left top is a diagonal shelf for the monitor. The body of the desk, on the right side, contains one of those pullout things you can write on and two drawers on auto-close sliders, one drawer being “file drawer” size. On the left is a rollout thing that is designed to look like three drawers, but is, as I said, a rollout thing in which one can, I suppose, place a scanner or a similar widget. I use mine to store paper. I am quite certain that it is an O’Sullivan product. The closest example of one that resembles this desk that I could find is here. Mind you, mine is considerably more complicated.

OK, got the picture?

Way back when I wanted to buy my first computer, Mrs. Parkway, being very supportive of my then new-found interest in things cyber, said, “If you want to buy that ridiculous thing, you better damned well figure out where you’re going to put it.”

We, therefore, took a trip to Office Max, or the other big box “office” store – I can’t remember which, where I saw this unit all assembled. Knowing that it would have to serve as a regular desk in addition to the place where I could set up “that stupid computer” it seemed to fit the bill.

I asked the sales guy when it could be delivered, and he said, “What kind of car do you have? We could bring it out now.” At the time, I had a station wagon that was roughly the size of Finland (used for hauling band equipment around), so I said, “I have a big wagon, but I think that the desk may be too tall to fit.” He said, “No problem, the top and the bottom are packaged separately.”


So, I pulled the car into the Delivery Area with my receipt in hand waiting for someone to bring out a piece of furniture. You can imagine my surprise when this big bullyok of a kid rolled out two farookin’ huge boxes and called my name. I asked, “Is that the desk?” He checked my sales receipt and confirmed that those two farookin’ huge boxes were my “desk.”

He said, “Yes sir. You have to put it together.”


“No problem, sir. They are easy to assemble.”

Mrs. Parkway, seeing the horror on my face, said, “Oh, I’ll help you. How hard can it be?”

With that, the big bullyok of a kid lifted each box into the back of the Wagon the size of Finland.

When I got home, I realized why the store had hired the big bullyok of a kid, because there was no way I could lift either of those bigass boxes. The only way we could get the thing into the house was to open each of the bigass boxes and bring the pieces in a few at a time. After about twenty minutes of back and forth between the house and the Wagon the size of Finland, my entire living room floor was covered with hundreds of pieces of wood, bags of screws, washers, springs, rollers, sliders, plastic thingies, magnets and God knows what else. It was horrifying.

I was beginning to wonder how much I wanted the computer, after all.

“Let’s take a look at the instructions,” I sheepishly said.

Once unfolded, the instructions covered as much floor space as the average-sized bathroom. There were drawings that, to me, were as complicated as those for the Space Shuttle and text that was written by people who know how to assemble shit, but who will never win the Nobel Prize for clarity.

Being a complete jackass when it comes to these things, I wanted to pour over every step of the directions and carefully consider each and every move before it was made. By contrast, Mrs. Parkway has an innate sense about how things go together, (She used to put the Barbie Motor Homes and such together) would take a quick glance at the instructions and begin assembling shit.

This lead to more than a few heated words in a house where heated words are a rare as hen’s teeth. In fact, at one point in the proceedings, I figured that either this piece of shit (the desk, not Mrs. Parkway) was going in the garbage, or I would end up living in a motel and sending alimony payments home.

Two or three days, several scraped knuckles, forty or so man-hours, and unfathomable amounts of aggravation later, the job was finished.

Once I got the computer set up on the desk, my first act was to type out a letter to the O’Sullivan company in which I opined that the company must be staffed with sadistic bastards and suggested precisely what they could do with their “easy to assemble” furniture.

So, as far as I’m concerned, anything that “requires assembly” can stay in the farookin’ store.


  1. Ah, come on Jim! It isn’t that bad. It could be worse, in fact. Consider if the guy who writes stereo instructions had written that, instead of some guy who butchers wood (carpenter) for a living! Personally, I am a technical writer, so I translate stuff engineers write so that regular people can understand it, and having done O’Sullivan, it could be (very much) worse. There’s this outfit from Japan that makes me cringe.

    Remember, the screwdriver is your friend. The hand tool can be one once you’ve gotten enough vodka into you.

    Sapper Mike

    Comment by Sapper Mike — February 11, 2006 @ 5:16 pm

  2. Howdy Mike!

    I figure you must have been home sick the day these directions were written. 🙂

    Comment by Jim - Parkway Rest Stop — February 11, 2006 @ 5:25 pm

  3. And then you have those “leftover pieces” — one or more for each thing you’ve assembled over the years, usually tossed into a kitchen drawer, still in the little plastic bags. And you’re afraid to throw any of these pieces away, even though the items have been assembled and are being used, seemingly without problem. Of course you come upon these parts all the time and have no idea what each part goes with, but they must be saved and rummaged through once in a while, just in case.

    Comment by dogette — February 11, 2006 @ 6:01 pm

  4. … Helga is almost my bitch now, but not quite…. worked four hours today and got a really gnarly bit finished… then realized that the damn cable has to run BETWEEN those parts that constitute the gnarly bit..

    … tomorrow I’m off to the hardware store to buy a ratchet set and a million and one allen wrenches… she WILL be mine tomorrow… even if it shortdicks every cannibal on the Congo….

    Comment by Eric — February 11, 2006 @ 6:48 pm

  5. Mike is right.

    My Japanese landlord got some very pricy gifts (each about $150) for my boys for Christmas. Problem is, the assembly instructions are in Japanese, so I won’t touch the things (even though the pictures look cool). I can’t even find english instructions on the web (usually you can).

    About once a week, he asks me how my kids are enjoying the toys. “Oh, they’re great”, I tell him, “kids just love them”. I think he’s on to me.

    Dan in Japan

    Comment by Dan — February 11, 2006 @ 7:12 pm

  6. Don’t feel bad Jimbo, my cousin has four degrees and works for NASA and he can’t even tie his shoes.

    Comment by Catfish — February 11, 2006 @ 9:26 pm

  7. I, too, had to put together a desk, a lateral file, a computer credenza, and a hutch when the Great Corporate Salt Mine moved us Atlanta-area peeps to Home-Based Offices.

    It was easy.

    I just made a phone call, whipped out my trusty Amex card, and whadda ya know? Some guy came over and put the whole frickin’ mess together! Hoo-Hah!

    Comment by Elisson — February 11, 2006 @ 10:04 pm

  8. LOL!!!

    Comment by Bou — February 11, 2006 @ 10:34 pm

  9. … so far the score is Nordic Beast – 3, Eric – 0.. but tomorrow is another day….

    Comment by Eric — February 11, 2006 @ 11:11 pm

  10. OK – now that I’ve finally stopped ROFL and can compose myself somewhat (still wiping the tears from my eyes) all I have to say is – can you and Mrs. Parkway put my yarn meter together? With all that experience I’m sure you could get it done lickety split!

    Comment by Darlene — February 11, 2006 @ 11:58 pm

  11. Reminds Me of a Story

    Jim at Parkway Rest Stop picks up on Eric – of Straight White Guy fame – talking about “some assembly required. Oh yeah – you know that’s gotta spin off a Tammi story or 20. Picture it – 2 girls,…

    Trackback by Tammi's World — February 12, 2006 @ 10:52 am

  12. LOL!

    Years ago The Husband and I bought our first house, which was “cozy” (realestatespeak for TINY) and had a shed in the back yard. The old shed needed replacement.

    We went & bought a metal shed of the same size (so it’d fit on the cement footprint of the old one) and had to assemble it. With it came a case (the size of the case of beer, but without the beer) of nuts, bolts and washers.

    I saw it and ran to the hardware store for a pair of work gloves. While I was out The Husband first tried the bare-knuckle macho approach and after the first 4 band-aids switched to work gloves. He was walking into the hardware store as I was paying for mine so he asked me where they kept the gloves.

    Putting the danged thing together was not pleasant. People have gone to divorce court over less.

    Suffice to say, after that, if it’s not assembled, we won’t get it.

    Good luck to Eric with the Norditrack monster.

    Comment by Fausta — February 12, 2006 @ 11:30 am

  13. The Husband was just reading my comment and clarified that it was only 2 band-aids.

    Comment by Fausta — February 12, 2006 @ 11:42 am

  14. May I suggest that if anyone tells you to buy furniture from Ikea… resist the urge – it will make your desk look like child’s play.

    However I’m ROFLMAO – Jim – you have got to write a book – you must!

    Comment by Teresa — February 12, 2006 @ 12:00 pm

  15. got no use for it

    Last night, I went to see mike cross play at the fabulous randy wood concert hall in beautiful, bucholic Bloomingdale,…

    Trackback by Gut Rumbles — February 12, 2006 @ 6:47 pm

  16. I never, ever, EVER buy anything that needs assembling.

    Tried it once with a TV table. Ten hours.

    I now (1) don’t buy it or (2) pay for the assembling.

    So what is go great about these IKEA stores, it seems like you have to assemble EVERYTHING!

    Comment by Kim — February 12, 2006 @ 7:28 pm

  17. Jim, you were/are obviously a “liberal arts” major – you should leave the heavy lifting and thinking to guys like…. me?


    Like Rob! Or Catfish! Or even Eric!

    I’ll bring the beer…

    Comment by Old Wierd Ward — February 12, 2006 @ 11:49 pm

  18. Jim,

    I think the O’Sullivan company took exception with your customer feedback suggestions as they 404’d your link…

    Incidentally, just how old is that desk as you must have purchased that desk back when the ‘pick up department’ bullyoks were more or less civil. Today surprise such as yours would simply earn you a blank stare or a snide comment.

    And insofar as the proper interpretation of the instruction – as another poster pointed out, liberal amounts of alcohol are required. But be cautious as you require just enough alcohol to blur the words on the *instructions*, but not so much as to mistake your thumb for the dowel that must be pounded in with a hammer…

    Great stuff BTW.

    Ed T.

    Comment by Ed T. — February 13, 2006 @ 11:55 am

  19. Santa and I had a long talk a couple years ago about “Some assembly required”. Unfortunately Mrs. Clause wasn’t privy to the conversation.

    Comment by Contagion — February 13, 2006 @ 9:00 pm

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