Monday, September 8, 2014

Some Assembly Required

The relationship between myself and kid furniture/toys you have to assemble is similar to the relationship I have with one-ply toilet paper: It takes longer than it should to get the job done, I'm continually doing re-work on some areas, and I always walk away angry. And while I've made it very clear since before my wife and I were married that I won't live in a house that hangs anything less than two-ply toilet paper on its dispensers, I can't tell my children that they can't have a bicycle because daddy's a lazy, selfish prick. Besides, you haven't truly experienced fatherhood until you've been reduced to tears while trying to assemble a Dora the Explorer tricycle that looks like Ray Charles could put together in a matter of minutes.

There's a little bit of me in everything that I assemble for my children, because I've literally bled on all of it in some capacity. Everything from cribs, beds, tricycles, a bicycle, a swing set, pretend play sets, baby swings, and all manner of other wicked, evil shit manufactured in the bowels of Hell by the Devil himself and his gaggle of mechanical engineers. I suspect the engineers actually responsible for this crap are people who were fired from real engineering jobs because there was a history of bridges, buildings or roads they were associated with collapsing, and the only companies who would give them a job were the likes of Little Tikes or Sorelle.

Regardless of who the manufacturer is, there are some common issues I've run into in building all of these things:

1) The English version of the instructions always look like they were originally written in Farsi and run through Google Translate. From there, the translated steps are placed on individual note cards and then placed in a cow pasture. The card that gets shit on first is Step 1, and so on. The sophisticates among you will recognize this as a modified version of Bovine BINGO.

Copyright 2014, Travis Ross (Simple Man's Survival Guide)
Putting together kid's toys is dangerous.
2) The diagrams in the manual never align with what I'm actually looking at. I seem to always find myself in a situation where I'm looking at a piece on a diagram with six holes, but that same piece that I'm holding only has four holes, and I need to put screws in two of the holes, but because the total number of holes between the picture and the actual piece don't line up I DON'T KNOW EXACTLY WHICH TWO HOLES TO PUT THE F**KING SCREWS IN! I always make the wrong choice and I never realize it until I'm almost done, which is the most deflating feeling ever. It's like letting your toddler go to the bathroom to drop a deuce alone, only to have her walk out covered in crap, holding the cat, excited to show you the picture she just painted on the bathroom wall with her very own feces using your toothbrush with help from her sister; that's a blessed and special experience. Whenever I'm in a situation where I realize I chose poorly my blood pressure goes off the charts and I turn into a white, suburban, middle-class rage monster devoid of rational thought who can only throw things and yell.

3) The instructions for kid furniture/toys always neglect to mention two mission-critical pieces of equipment: a hammer and needle-nose pliers. These items are rarely required to build any of this stuff, but they will be necessary when you go to deconstruct what you've done after realizing you f**ked up and put the proverbial two screws in the wrong holes. This is largely because the same jerkoff engineers I mentioned earlier design the parts to permanently interlock after you initially connect them, which means you can't separate them quickly using anything short of a blowtorch or heavy explosives. Your only real chance of loosening the connected pieces are to hack away at them with a hammer or twist and pull with a pair of needle-nose pliers until your hands bleed, and only when you are at your wits end will the two pieces come apart so easily that you'll wonder how that didn't happen earlier.

4) The instructions are always thinly written. For example, when putting together the front wheel on the Dora the Explorer tricycle, the instructions just said "Snap together" and showed me a fuzzy picture that looked more like a close-up picture of a pile of dog shit than the front wheel assembly. I snapped the pieces together incorrectly because I always make the wrong choice in these situations, and then got out my hammer in an effort to reverse the interlock feature. Over the course of the next two hours I said things to Dora the Explorer and Boots that, had my children understood what daddy was saying, would have given my children nightmares and resulted in me being banned from every respectable children's theme park, Toys 'R Us and touring kid's show in this country. The fight ended in a draw as I stopped my assault after discovering a molding defect that gave us justification for swapping our bike for another with Amazon.

On the bright side, if I wrestle putting any of these things together to the point where my hands are bleeding and in pain, at least I know the toilet paper at my house will be soft to the touch.

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