Saturday, August 2, 2008

Some Assembly Required

I guess writing some assembly required on the box of toys is nice and concise but I think they should just be honest. In big bold letters it should just say Guess what you're doing this afternoon jackass. Honestly, if the manufacturer took one look at all those pieces and said "I'm not putting that together" then you know it's probably not going to be easy. I understand now what my parents went through. I remember one Christmas my Mom just about lost her mind trying to figure out my transformers. Dad couldn't help her either because he was busy putting decals on toys, just like in the picture on the box. I understand not putting stuff together but how lazy are these bastards at the toy company that they don't even put the stickers on.

Anyways, it all started this afternoon when Nanny pulled into the driveway with a huge box filling up the entire back of her car. The girls were so excited, especially when they saw the picture of a little playhouse on the side of the box. My reaction was a bit more subdued. Something along the lines of "oh crap" if I recall. The kids were losing their minds with joy so I got the box to the backyard with the help of a stroller, opened it up and got to work.

Generally the biggest problem with required assembly is the instructions (see anything from Ikea). I have to admit though that the instructions were pretty good on this one. No messing around with slot A tab B foolishness, or go get an allen key. It was just very straight forward step by step instructions in picture form. I mention the straight forward part because that isn't always the case with picture instructions. When my family was in Australia, Dad bought a didgeridoo. Yeah, I don't know what he was thinking either. We got it home and had a look at the instructions on how to play it. The only problem with that is that the instructions were in Indonesian and some Aboriginal language. It did have pictures though. Based on those I could only assume that in order to play it you had to first strip to the waist and paint some sort of weird markings on your body. Forty five minutes and lots of paint later, I still couldn't play the damn thing.

Getting back to the playhouse though, the instructions were nice and helpful. I was doing good all the way up to about step 4. After screwing the sink in and attaching two adjacent walls I realized I'd used the wrong size screws. I was supposed to use the really big screws, not the big screws. It does beg the question though, why have three different screw sizes when they're all doing the same basic thing? No, I've got to make sure there's 4 little ones, 22 big ones, 3 really big ones, and keep track of which one goes where. So I unscrewed them and fixed it. About ten steps later and I've got all the walls together. The kids are vibrating at the prospect of the roof going on. I put it on and then realise I now have nine big screws to put in to attach the roof to the base. About two screws in I realised a couple things. First, I wish my cordless drill had a charged battery so I didn't have to screw everything in by hand. And second, as much as putting stuff together sucks, putting something together inside what's essentially a plastic box that's outside on a hot sunny day really sucks. Here I am inside a playschool sauna sweating balls as I screw this thing together. The whole time I've got two little girls skipping around the outside of it repeatedly asking me if it's ready yet.

I did finally get it all put together. The void I left inside when I exited, easily a couple pounds lighter, was quickly filled by the kids. Their squeals and laughing as they played with it, for a couple hours easily, made the sweat and frustration worth it. The fact they played by themselves was nice too because it let me get a much needed drink. "No, you guys play by yourselves for a bit. Daddy's got to go rehydrate."

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