A few months ago I needed a dresser for my guest bedroom. I did not want to spend a lot of money so I checked out a few online sources. Too expensive and costly to ship. Then, I checked out Overstock.com and the magic words “free shipping” caught my attention.
I looked at dressers in all sizes and made of different woods. I narrowed down the possibilities based on size, color, wood type and price and chose one that seemed reasonably simple in design, made of pine, three adequately-sized drawers and the acceptable price of $139. This was amazing. I checked my shopping cart and hit the “continue to shop” button waiting for them to reject my zip code for free shipping. Nothing extra popped up and suddenly the transaction was a done deal. Free shipping, total cost $139.
When the box arrived as promised, within five to seven business days, I could not believe its size. “This cannot be the entire dresser!” Nowhere did I see the words “Assembly Required” in the shopping description.
Now a very compact box sat on my front porch. When I got up the nerve to open it, I found about 39 pieces of very flimsy wood (did I expect teak for that price?), a package of knobs, and two dozen plastic baggies filled with dozens of screws and nails. A sheet of directions was thankfully written in English with Japanese or Chinese subtitles. Each piece of wood was numbered, as if this made any difference since I couldn’t tell which was the front or back of each piece. It would ultimately require several tries to get each to fit properly.
With all the pieces lying about my basement floor, I did what any smart woman would do: I cried for help. What man can resist such a challenge? Two days later that very lovely man, with a normally gentle disposition, had turned into someone I did not recognize. To his credit he managed to take on this challenge—men are funny that way.
I avoided the basement during the procedure. When it was complete, the dresser wasn’t bad looking. It seemed sturdy enough to do the job and if it lasts through the year, I’ll be happy. I gave it a protective coat of polyurethane and the wood simply glowed. We put the dresser in position and to my astonishment it matches the wood floor perfectly. It looks pretty good.
My life has always been one of “assembly required.” However, at this point in life, I can live with “minimal assembly required” if all things are perfect, but it has been my experience that a screw or some essential part is usually missing and that, contrary to stated myth, a tool was indeed needed, and it has not been included and is not an item carried in my local hardware store.
The people who create projects for the world of craft and hobby enthusiasts are under the misguided assumption that there is a world of do-it-yourselfers who actually respond in a positive way to this sort of challenge. On a basic level I understand this way of thinking. If I can do it myself it gets done. If I have to call someone else to do it, it doesn’t. It’s as simple as that.
So we get down to the crux of this particular life dilemma. Painting furniture, planting a garden, making a quilt, cooking from scratch, fixing a drain pipe, hanging curtains—any one of a hundred things can seem like a nightmare or a creative challenge. It gets down to this: a little do-it-yourself and a little let-someone-else-do it is the best of both worlds.
For now I seem to be stuck with “assembly required,” so long as I have a capable partner who will rise to the challenge.
By Leslie Linsley