‘Some assembly required’ tests relationships


By Sue Curtis



A couple of weeks ago, we purchased a new grill for our son and thought to surprise him by putting it together and having it all ready for him when he returned from a short vacation. It was a great idea. It also took about three hours of our time and, as with many projects, tested and strengthened our teamwork!

I’m sure many of you have had the experience of buying something for your home that looked wonderful in the store. Also, some of you may have (as I did) wondered at the way a large item was packed into a shoebox. Then, you pull out the 125 pieces, complete with 200 nuts, bolts, and screws, and resign yourself to an afternoon of reading instructions and assembling the item. Hopefully, the finished product looks like it did on the showroom floor.

I have to chuckle a little at the “some assembly required” notice printed in bold colors on the box. This is exactly the same warning as “this might sting a little” that your doctor gives you. In my experience, if the doctor thinks something “might” sting, it will actually hurt like the dickens. So “some” assembly means you need an engineering degree to get it right.

Also, they often say “no tools required.” This means that the makers have thoughtfully included the miniature Allen wrench in the parts. The wrench always fits into the holes in the screws, but there’s rarely enough room for fingers to use it next to the pipes, poles, or boards where the holes are located.

I have, somewhere in our home and garage, about 40 of these small Allen wrenches. If I had a creative bent, I’m sure I could make pendants and matching earrings from them, assuming I could round them all up. They really serve no useful purpose after the tea cart, shelving unit, or grill is assembled, yet we don’t pitch them out.

The instructions are a marvel, as well. Usually there are no written words at all, since pictures are universally understood. It’s only the visually gifted who can look at the schematics and determine which pieces they mean and which direction to hold the pieces as you wrestle with the Allen wrench and screw.

At least the instructions from a major furniture company label the pieces for you and put the corresponding letter on the actual piece. Also, their instructions have words as well as pictures (in several languages!). This saves a lot of angst. On the other hand, the instructions often say things at step 44 like, “before attaching part B into slot A, be sure the brown side is facing frontward.” Had they put this before, say, step 2 (when part B was actually inserted into slot A), we would not have to deconstruct the nearly finished bookcase to turn the part the correct direction.

If your marriage survives the “some assembly required” projects, then you are a match made in heaven! The grill actually working is just icing on the cake! Email me at suecurtis9@gmail.com.

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By Sue Curtis

Sue is a retired public servant who volunteers at the Hospice store (For All Seasons) in Troy and teaches part-time at Urbana University. She keeps busy taking care of husband, house, and pets. She and her husband have an adult son who lives in Troy.

Sue is a retired public servant who volunteers at the Hospice store (For All Seasons) in Troy and teaches part-time at Urbana University. She keeps busy taking care of husband, house, and pets. She and her husband have an adult son who lives in Troy.