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  • caldun09

Flat packs and self assembly

Updated: May 26, 2021

Well, here I am in the second week of May and the weather is still much chillier than usual. for the time of year. Grass growth is slow and the land is soaking..

I was about to go for a stroll that morning when I heard a request from senior management to do a little job. Naturally I was most anxious to hear the details because I was heading for my morning constitutional and freedom.

There is a birthday coming up for one of the juniors in the family and he had requested a real wheelbarrow. I saw no problem there . We had purchased the wheelbarrow in the local excellent Munchkin's toy shop and they duly delivered it. We shopped local but then I noticed the made in China sticker on the box.

Anyway, I was pointed in the direction of said flat box and was duly informed that the wheelbarrow and instructions were contained therein .It had arrived in flat pack form. This would naturally have to be assembled. I had a quick look and postponed operations until after my stroll and I got the house to myself.

I tackled the task of assembling the wheelbarrow in the afternoon following dinner, so I was well fortified for the task ahead.

Well, you never saw such an assemblage of nuts and bolts and washer A and washer B and washers C. D, E, and F with appropriate nuts and bolts. There were parts A,B,C,D, etc all wrapped tightly in plastic .Save the planet how are you. To add further to the frustration ,they even had a box inside the mailing box for extra packaging. Of course ,it’s a long ,long way from China to here so you would want the barrow to be snug and have a safe passage.

I honestly think the designers of the instructions for assembling these gadgets must have taken a course in frustration tests and definitely never had me in mind as an assembler.

Anyway, I stuck with the task and after several expletives and a cup of coffee, accompanied by the last slice of Christmas cake[ochón,ochón] we now have a two wheeled wheelbarrow waiting to delight the eyes of a three-year-old.

Alas as I was tidying up and putting the packaging in the recycling bin, I discovered two spare spring washers. My first instinct was to throw them in the bin but then ,being the perfectionist that I am I found out where they should be. I duly disassembled and reassembled the relevant part and now we have total perfection. Just then senior management arrives home and is quite pleased with the finished product. I am really chuffed.

I must admit I am not a follower of the flat pack movement. I have gone to the same couple of furniture stores all my purchasing life and I am quite happy to pay the extra price of the assembled product.

When I saw the flat box this morning it reminded me of an IKEA moment in my life. We were doing fine with our purchasing policy until we needed a new study desk a couple of years ago. One of the junior members of the family suggested that we should go to IKEA to purchase same as all the friends had an IKEA desk or chair or whatever you fancy yourself.

I was detailed to drive there, which I did and was accompanied by the more progressive members of the clan.

We duly arrived and parked up and then proceeded to try and find an entrance, which we did eventually .

I was totally mesmerised and gobsmacked by all the displays and heights of piled high flat packs. When we selected required desk, we proceeded to payment and then looked for a food area. At that time all I saw was some very limited junk food menus and plastic cups and plastic furniture. My appetite waned and so we proceeded to place desk in the boot of car and with yanking and shoving and grunting and puffing said desk was finally in position ready for the journey to Gorey, having left down the back seat.

We duly arrived home and the reverse process involved getting desk upstairs step by step. This was a big animal measuring 140cms x 65cms x74cms high. It was nice white beech coloured one with big storage drawers.

Eventually it was lodged in the proposed assembly area and the opening process started.

Well, if you thought the wheelbarrow was bad this was the stuff nightmares were made of for a non-DIY qualified person like me.

I think the only flat part that did not need assembling was the flat work top area of the desk.

You would need a degree in engineering to assemble it, perhaps even to follow the assembly book accompanying the desk. I just go all blank when I am presented with complicated books and manuals whether they be for furniture assembly, cars, lawn mowers etc.

There were bags of screw, packets of brackets, runners for drawers and a veritable array of paraphernalia associated with this assembly process. For me it was a major construction project.

There were queries from downstairs enquiring about progress which were answered with a grumpy “leave me alone”

A sugestion was made that I should have a sign up advising” Danger Construction Site”. I resisted any urge to erect any such signage .

Another suggestion was Beware animals at large, such was the grunting and expletives coming from on high.

After a couple of hours absolute frustration and total lack of progress I was tempted to throw the lot in the fire, but wiser counsel prevailed, and the assembly line was paused till the morning and we had a little drinkie instead. There was the strict proviso that the word desk was banned for the duration of relaxation period.

I must say I slept Ok after all the assembly line stuff, maybe it was the wine. The following morning I went out to test the air and met my next-door neighbour . He was a professional photographer and he told me that he had taken part in a lovely project of photographs of Ireland Long ago. He invited me in to look at it and I was blown away by the excellence of the work.

As we were talking, he casually mentioned that he was waiting for a delivery of an IKEA flat pack display cabinet.

I wished him luck with the assembly, relating my previous night’s experience to him. He told me he was absolutely useless at such work ,but then came the Eureka moment. He informed me that the local IKEA assembly man was coming up in the afternoon to assemble the cabinet for him. I asked him if he could use his influence to get him to assemble mine.

Whereupon he whipped out the phone, called your man, price was agreed and hey presto the contract was done there and then.

He came that evening and he had the job done in 35 minutes. Well ,I said to myself each to their own job. I was delighted, relieved, de-stressed and the desk looked fabulous.

You know I see children nowadays they can assemble Duplo and Lego and assemble Kapla building blocks into lovely shapes and forms from fairly tricky designs. In my younger days we had days in the bog and later on, we briefly encountered Meccano sets. You were flat out at the end of the days work but you definitely had no six packs or flat packs.

My early childhood artistic and creative education was lacking in certain departments. I’d better start my Lego and Kapla block education now. I might also do a bit more work on my spatial awareness and concrete operations. I would then be more prepared for my next flat pack experience.

Mick O Callaghan 06/02//2021

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