Disintegrating cabinetsFeb 15th, 2011 | By Ian Poulton | Category: Personal Columns
The BBC QI website has a chilling quote:
“All of us are born with a set of instinctive fears – of falling, of the dark, of lobsters, of falling on lobsters in the dark, or speaking before a Rotary Club, and of the words “Some Assembly Required”. DAVE BARRY
“Some assembly required”: the reason why the finished product on the floor of your front room does not correspond with the one on display when the lady of the house saw it in the shop and thought it a good idea.
The process of assembling things has been a problem for a generation. Having no money when we first married, furniture was bought in MFI. The showrooms had impressive layouts – bedrooms, kitchens,living rooms, beautifully finished with MFI furniture. I was always suspicious of how the ideal displays could come out of the flat pack boxes. No matter how hard I tried, the furniture in our house was never near the quality of that in the showroom. Sometimes our version of the cabinet or dresser didn’t include all the parts that came in the box; it wasn’t just screws or nails that were left over, sometimes there were pieces of chipboard wood that looked as though they should have had some place in the structure.
The requirement of home assembly sometimes came as a shock. Our daughter’s Godfather decided one Christmas when she was a toddler that a play supermarket trolley would be an appropriate gift for a young lady who has since developed a great propensity for shopping. The box seemed small for a trolley and opening it revealed the elements of a plastic play trolley awaiting assembly by an adult. Hours on Christmas Eve were spent trying to fit the thing together; on Christmas Day, it was set aside; on Saint Stephen’s Day, defeat was admitted and the trolley was taken to a neighbour’s house.
“What have you been doing?” he muttered. “You have the frame attached to the basket back to front”.
“Some assembly required” has become a reason for not buying things; or only buying them if there is someone else to assemble them.
A colleague told a story of moving house and buying a desk where assembly was necessary. Calling in a son who was handy in such matters seemed the sensible way of ensuring the job was well done. Halfway through the operation there was a loud snap and an expletive from the son who had put his knee through the top of the desk. The son went out and bought a new desk, which came in one piece, and took away the flat pack parts for firewood.
Apart from storage and transport costs, how is it cheaper to produce something in parts, assemble those parts into an arrangement suitable for packing, and then put the whole thing into boxes? Wouldn’t ‘No assembly required’ be a much stronger selling point? It would make for considerably greater domestic harmony.