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.

June 25, 2006

With a Little Help From My Friend.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 8:05 pm

Hamburger.jpgIt was time.

The old grill, from Sears, was about to turn twenty, and it was struggling to manage even a couple burgers and dogs. It served me well over the years, considering that I use it twelve months per year, even though cooking in sub-freezing weather presents some interesting wardrobe challenges.

Actually, it was long past its time, but I had held off making the move for a new one out of a morbid fear of having to assemble the sonofabitch. I recall the nightmare that I went through to assemble the current grill some twenty years ago, when a cousin of mine (as hopelessly inept as I) and I spent the better part of the day reading and debating the instructions, only to assemble disassemble and re-assemble the damned thing a half dozen times. When we were through, we were left with a couple “mystery parts”.

In addition, I knew that these things come in big boxes – VERY BIG BOXES. The boxes are even too big to fit in the trunk of my big, black, capitalist car.

I called upon Usual Suspect Jeff (da “Chef of da Future” – a Jackie Gleason thing), who: (a) has a TRUCK (something most people in Jersey don’t have), and (b) he knows how to do stuff like put stuff together.

We trucked off to Lowe’s where from the collection of grills I picked out this one. It was the only Weber Lowe’s had, but that was OK, because it has everything I need. I didn’t want a grill that looked like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. I need it to cook the occasional burger, hot dog, chicken breast or steak. I don’t plan on roasting any pigs (ewwwwww), or spinning a half dozen chickens on a spit.

We got the big farookin’ box in the truck and brought back to the House by the Parkway, where “we” began the assembly process. Actually, as a first step, we emptied the big farookin’ box, spread all of the gazillion parts all over the garage floor and then unfolded the mondo instructions out on the floor.

I looked at the instructions and almost puked.

Jeff, recognizing the terror in my face, suggested that I make us a couple cocktails. Now, THAT, I can do.

Mrs. Parkway, who has an unmistakable aptitude for putting stuff together (which has served me quite well over the years), came out and jumped right into the project.

I made more drinks and told interesting stories.

As the job neared completion, it became my task to gather up all the packing stuff to be thrown away. No one let me near any screws, bolts, washers or any of the parts that had come in the huge box. I was now the Garbage Guy.

After about 45 minutes and a couple three cocktails, the job was done, and the garbage was all packed up.

We humped the new grill up the stairs to my deck and fired it up for a test run. Everything worked. Sweet!

I poured more Chivas for Jeff, and a cocktail or two for me, and we spent an hour or so celebrating “our” successful assembly of the new grill, generally shooting the shit and having a few laughs.

I may be a helluva Cocktail Guy and an average Garbage Guy, but I damned sure ain’t a Put-Shit-Together Guy.

I’m glad that Jeff is my friend.

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