Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Assume Nothing When It Comes to Toy Assembly—and on Christmas Eve, Even Less


NOTE FROM SUSAN: Hurray! It’s time for another hilarious column from Melinda Wentzel. This month, Melinda reminds us why we should always purchase only gifts that state: “No Assembly Required”! The "subject" of Melinda's story is pictured at left.

Assume Nothing When It Comes to Toy Assembly—and on Christmas Eve, Even Less
By Melinda L. Wentzel

It has been said that you can tell a lot about a person simply by looking at how they handle three things in life: a rainy day, lost luggage and tangled Christmas lights. No doubt, “toy assembly” could easily be added to that list. Even more telling—toy assembly WITHOUT INSTRUCTIONS on CHRISTMAS EVE. Yep, WAY telling.

Needless to say, my husband and I learned plenty about one another last year on December 24th as we struggled to remain calm despite the plight that befell us. (Let’s make that “volumes” we learned.) Heck, it was an EDUCATIONAL FEAST.

At precisely 3 p.m. that day, we made what could only be described as a horrifying discovery: One of the toys we had purchased—a multi-level, 56-inch, 197-piece Swiss Family Robinson style doll/tree house—had NO instructions. That’s right—NONE. Zip. Zilch. Nada. We know this to be true since we nearly destroyed the box in our frantic search for said directional material, to no avail. And no matter how many times we shoved our heads inside the box, tipped it on end and meticulously examined each little packet that poured out, we were faced with the same grim reality: THEY JUST WEREN’T IN THERE! And no amount of wishing would have made them appear, although at one point I seriously considered calling the North Pole to make a special request. I may as well have.

First, we tried contacting the store where we bought the blasted thing. No luck. It just so happened to be the last one on the shelf, so we couldn’t drive there to make an exchange, nor could we tear into another box to peek at its instructions. (Hey, we were desperate!) We then called the manufacturer, whose kind, caring and oh-so-compassionate answering machine wished us a politically correct “Happy Holidays!”

“Lovely—just lovely,” we thought. Perhaps it’s best that we didn’t leave a message. It would have been ugly.

We even got online in hopes that those elusive assembly guidelines would be available for downloading. Perish the thought. Too sensible. In lieu of that, we were able to view photos of the wretched thing—FULLY ASSEMBLED, I might add. All 197 pieces. Together. As one. Totally indivisible. Earnestly, I studied that picture. Somehow, it just didn’t seem plausible that it had once been a jumbled mass of wooden thingies. Duct tape and/or Super Glue HAD to have entered the picture at some point, although I was hoping they wouldn’t be a part of our solution that night. Stranger things have happened.

Meanwhile, the clock kept ticking. We were due in church soon, and after that we had tentatively planned to WRAP EVERYTHING (Procrastination Central here…)—so using that precious time to assemble what had become a monstrosity of a toy was out of the question. It was now or never. Do or die.

So the two of us (Tweedledee and Tweedledum) pooled our meager resources—common sense, manual dexterity, mechanical ability and patience—and met the challenge head on. After two full hours of heated debate, we emerged from the basement victorious. The “monstrosity” had been assembled—totally without the aid of duct tape, glue or a single marriage counselor. Unquestionably, the picture on the box had saved us. Had it not appeared there in such fine detail, I am certain that we would have been the proud owners of 197 distinct wooden thingies.

I suppose then we could have presented the silly thing (unassembled) as one of those colossal “gift projects.” You know, “the gifts that keep on frustrating….” Granted, it might not have been completed till now, but it would have certainly lived up to its claim: PROVIDES HOURS OF ENTERTAINMENT. Yep, that would have been entertaining alright, but I wouldn’t know as much about my spouse now, would I?

But then again, I’ve seen him handle tangled Christmas lights.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live. Visit me there at www.notesfromplanetmom.com.

Copyright 2005 Melinda L. Wentzel.




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