By Dick Wolfsie
— This is an article about my one night stand. No, I didn’t have a one-night stand. I bought one. (I’m making this worse, aren’t I?) Let me try this:
I purchased one night stand at a local mega-hardware store. It was packaged in several parts, but the box said, “Assembly Very Easy.” I was suspicious. That was exactly what my third-grade teacher said before she made me sing in front of the entire student body at Roosevelt Elementary School. I remember swearing that was the last assembly I’d ever do.
Of course, I have broken that pledge a couple of times already. About two years ago, I tried to put a wall unit together, but I stressed out when the shelves didn’t fit properly. I walked away frustrated, but the cat liked what she saw. We now have the world’s most expensive kitty litter box.
Overall, this should have been an easy task. Every piece in the kit was assigned a letter. All the grooves were numbered and there was an actual picture of all six kinds of screws and four types of nails.
I once saw a guy on YouTube complete the Rubik’s Cube blindfolded using only his feet. Some guys get all the easy gigs.
The first problem was that the directions were in three languages: English, Spanish and French. This was an immediate distraction to me because the phrase “Avec precaution, retourner l’element sur ses chants avant,” sounds a lot saucier than “Carefully turn your unit over and onto its front edges.” The second problem was that I’m not good with tools. Like, the directions said I needed a Phillips screwdriver. That would be equal parts vodka, orange juice and Milk of Magnesia, right?
I was relieved to find there was a hotline number — answered, I am sure, by the very same kind of people who respond to those life and death turkey questions on Thanksgiving morning. One year, I abused that phone number after downing a couple of wine coolers. I called to ask if I could take a frozen turkey in the sauna with me to defrost it. It’s hard to make those folks laugh.
By the way, this furniture manufacturer only answers the phone between 8 a.m. and midnight, so by 7:59 in the morning the lines start lighting up with frustrated customers like me who were up all night wondering who Allen is and where he put his stupid wrench.
One of the things they instruct the buyer to do is register the product. I’ll register to vote; I’m happy to show a police officer my registration; and I’m never shy about registering my opinion. But I will not register my night stand. I have my rights. If they want their night table back, they’ll have to pry it away from my cold dead hands.
Once the bedside table was completely assembled, I was pretty happy with myself, although it did take me four hours and three phone calls to complete my task. I must admit, however, that I am not totally confident I got it to look 100 percent like the photo on the box. But Mary Ellen must have been impressed when she got home. She thought it was the biggest birdhouse she had ever seen.