Fear of assembly

“Assembly required”—two of the most dreaded words in the English language (to me, anyway). 

Place a “No” in front of those two words and—voilà—my frown turns upside down.

I usually have my act together to accomplish everyday tasks, but I’m never together enough to succeed in putting stuff together—like bicycles, furniture, and shelving units.

Ok. I’ve never attempted to assemble a bicycle. That project is well out of my range of ability.

Smaller undertakings like shelving units are what tempt me. I talk myself into thinking, “Oh, sure, I can do that.”

I’m not talking about wall units. I’m referring to small bookcases—maybe four shelves—and shoe storage units that house 8-10 pairs of shoes.

Pictures on the boxes make the tasks look like my dog could figure them out. That’s the reason I dive into it without waiting for Gary.

Next thing I know, I’m sitting on the floor surrounded by boards and screws of all sizes.

Once, I assembled and disassembled a three-rack shoe unit twice. I put it together, took it apart, put it together, and took it apart. Forget those A, B, C, D stickers. They mean nothing to me.

Times like these remind me how much I miss Trey. Trey is my son and my go-to guy for all things technical and all boxes labeled “Assembly Required.”

Even at five and six years old, he saw the difference between square and round pegs that never made sense to me. Without any training, Trey chose the proper cables and knew how to hook them up to add speaker systems and DVD players to our TVs.

When a box marked “Assembly Required” showed up on our doorstep, my heart sank and his heart soared.

“Can I put it together? Please let me do it!” my son begged. The mystery of the box’s contents seemed only to make the task more intriguing.

By the time he reached middle school, Trey realized he did not have to beg or even ask permission to take charge of anything bearing an “Assembly Required” sticker. 

He saw it. He took it. He conquered it.

When Jordan moved to an apartment for her 2nd year of college, I took Trey along under the guise that he’d get a glimpse of campus life.

He did get a little taste of the world away from home, but the primary reason for his presence was for him to assemble all of his sister’s bedroom furniture, which he did with no complaints.

Work to me is play for my son. 

Now, that I think about it, Gary’s Christmas Eves would have been far more enjoyable had we just awakened Trey and let him assemble all the dollhouses and bicycles. 

My troubles began when my son left for college. In the first two years, it was not unusual for me to call him.

“Can you please tell me again which remote I’m supposed to use and which buttons to push to get the TV to recognize the DVD player

“No sound is coming from the speakers, but they are plugged in. What should I do?”

“OK. Red to red. Yellow to yellow. Ugh. It’s not working for me like it does for you.”

Trey’s leaving also coincided with my many failed attempts at “Assembly Required” projects. It’s difficult to explain A, B, C problems over the phone.

Not long ago, I ordered four chairs for a casual table. I awaited their arrival with a dash of trepidation—fear of assembly. 

The boxes arrived when Gary was out of town—of course. No way was I going to wait. I grabbed my box cutter, prepared to be met by gazillion pieces.

Under the flap, I happened upon the sweetest words ever: “No Assembly Required.”

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