Some Assembly Required

If there’s ever a contest to rate foreboding phrases, my entry would be “Some Assembly Required.” Those three words sometimes cause my blood pressure to rise. How high it goes depends on the number of parts.   

My latest trying experience was assembling a small gas grill, a bargain I miraculously discovered online for $97. Some folks spend untold hours and their children’s inheritance in pursuit of the perfect cooker. For me it only took minutes. I sorted a gazillion options by price, then clicked on the cheapest one before the sale ended. I’ll admit, however, being a tad suspicious of quality when the seller responded with a laughter emoji. 

FedEx delivered the grill on a Saturday. I thought the driver would need my help to unload it, but the box weighed less than a good birdhouse. Portability is a great product feature that wasn’t even mentioned in the ad.   

I’m not sure when I first became aware of the implications of Some Assembly Required. One of my earliest recollections is when Santa Claus brought our young triplets a playset with three swings, a slide, and a glider that could seat up to four kids. That was in the early part of the 1980s.

St. Nick waited until our children were asleep to toss gifts from his sleigh. Apparently, he was on a tight schedule as countless pieces were scattered across our back yard. Our neighbors, Mark Ingram and Chuck Coley, helped me put it together. We finished a little before the rooster crowed.

Our old gas grill, which is now on sabbatical, is also from that era. It was just a few years after the swing set when we brought our Patio Kitchen 8000 home. Erin, our firstborn, was not yet a teenager when she offered to take care of the assembly. I think we paid her five dollars. It’s wonderful when both parties feel good about a transaction.

That grill performed splendidly for decades. I’ve replaced the burners multiple times and may do so again one day. I love the glass viewing window and it’s body of real steel, but even with tender loving care she’s showing signs of heavy wear. The cooking grate has almost burned through in the middle, so I figured the old girl had earned a rest. She’s almost like family, so I’m not quite ready to say goodbye.   

Another adventure with Some Assembly Required came along a few years ago. I bought a piece of exercise equipment and spent about a month putting it together. It has weights and riggings for 99 musclebuilding routines thanks to 10 miles of crisscrossed cables. After two weeks of turning wrenches, I called the company for help just like the material suggested. That’s when I figured out why it had been sold as a non-returnable clearance item.

The nice lady who answered the phone couldn’t help me. She suggested I call back later, which I did several times on different days. She was always pleasant, spoke some English, and wanted to assist, but the man who might possibly be able to answer my question was never available.    

The company didn’t have any supplemental instructions, so I asked if a phone video could be made showing how to route the cables. She texted me exactly what I needed to solve the puzzle. Now the only thing lacking is someone to use it. It’s outside, too inconvenient for hanging clothes on. Plus, we already have a stationary bike in the bedroom for that.

Admittedly, my problems are often self-inflicted by not following directions. “Read all instructions before beginning assemblyis a common warning I consistently ignore. Directions also frequently suggest following the steps in order and identifying the parts. Some even recommend waiting to tighten the nuts after everything is in place. It’s hard to imagine anyone would go to that much trouble.

Assembly instructions for the new grill said it should take about 30 minutes. By doing it my way, however, I extended the completion time to two hours. The grill looks ready for a Friday night steak, but I’m wondering if the leftover parts are important. Putting things together can be frustrating.                   

Sometimes I wonder if God gets frustrated when I neglect to follow His instructions. Some Assembly Required might be appropriate on my forehead. But a line from a song helps remind me of something I’m thankful for: “How loving and patient He must be. He’s still working on me.”

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5 Responses to Some Assembly Required

  1. Judy says:

    Loved this one! In can surely identify with it.


  2. Trav Carter says:

    Erin fully assembled a large gas grill for me when she was at Georgia Tech. It was very impressive


  3. Melanie says:

    I loved his one too Neil. Great job.


  4. Ellen Hunsucker says:

    Great one, Neil! My favorite part was about the exercise equipment story! I love the analogy at the end, too!


  5. Jimmy R Collins says:

    Loved it Neil ! Such a familiar refrain.. I resemble that remark at the end too…


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