Monday, April 9, 2012

Some Assembly (and Patience) Required

When I was about nine years old, my brothers and I went to the local electronics store with mom and dad and watched as they purchased a new TV. 

My brothers and I ambled through the aisles of TVs with my parents for a while before one of them spotted the perfect television. 
 
It was all black, with sleek buttons, and speakers seamlessly built in. It  looked like it was carved from one solid cube of perfect, glistening black plastic. To top it all off, this technological marvel was crowned with a  27-inch glass screen. 

Twenty-seven inches. At the time, that was big. 

It was a wondrous addition to our family room so naturally it required the perfect stand, a pedestal befitting its largess. So, as an afterthought, my parents picked out a TV stand made by the same company that made the TV. It was the exact same shade of black as the TV, and it could accommodate a VCR and a library of VHS cassettes. It too, was perfect. 

However, unlike the TV, it required assembly. And here is where the real story begins. 

The first thing any adult wants to do when they purchase a new TV, stereo, iPad or laptop is get it home quickly from the store and try it out. The first thing a kid wants to do is try it out on the car ride home. So, it was taxing on mine and my brothers' patience when we were informed we'd have to wait to try the new TV until after the TV stand was assembled.
27" TV screens were all the rage, and this was what video games looked like. 

But, no biggie, we'd just put the stand together, how long could that take? After pulling the contents out of the box our optimism evaporated. 

How, I wondered at the time, could all those little pieces ever become a TV stand? The stand came with a thick assembly manual and a slew of Allen Keys of differing sizes. There were dowels, pegs, even some adhesives. 

My mom and dad laid out the contents of the box and after surveying the display of shiny, new debris, they laughed. 

And laughed. 

And laughed. 

The TV was still not turned on, so I failed to see the humor in anything. 

As for mom and dad, I now know they were laughing because a TV stand just shouldn't be that complicated and neither of them had a clue where to begin. The instruction manual proved useless. (Like televisions, instruction manuals have come a long way since the late 80s and early 90s.)

Mom and Dad. They taught me everything I don't know about
following manufacturer's instructions.
Ultimately, mom and dad put the TV stand together and it would land in my possession in my first apartment, supporting my very own gigantic 27-inch TV. That stand more than paid for itself. 

I couldn't help but think of the old TV stand this weekend when Mrs. Blackwell and I put together our little guy's stroller. Perhaps as a result of the TV stand, when I'm facing these types of projects I  get frustrated in advance  and get short with people until the project is completed, which usually happens at about the same time I've alienated myself from everyone.

Thankfully, the stroller came half-assembled, and the instructions were clear as day, so it really was a smooth process. Mrs. Blackwell also let me know that my concerns were a bit premature and more than a little unjustified.

"These projects," she said, "can be fun, you know?"

Looking around our newly-minted nursery, there are dozens of small items that required assembly. Remembering my childhood and watching my nieces and my nephew, I know this won't change. 

More toys will be purchased. More furniture will be needed and, yes, further assembly will be required. I just need to remember to have the good humor to laugh at it like my mom and dad and remember that, it can be fun, you know?

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