Warning: Easy to Assemble

Today’s post is by one of my very best friends on the planet, Steve Glavan. Steve and I met about 6 years ago. He was a pastor on staff at our church and I got to know him as my choir director. His friendship and counsel played a major role in my husband’s and my return to ministry after 4 years. (For a brief stint, we even had cubicles next to each other when I came to work at the church 5 years ago, and I can neither confirm nor deny spontaneous song & dance numbers.) His family has become family to us, and I love and respect him and his amazing wife, Caryl. Follow Steve on twitter @sglavan.

Let’s start with a simple truth: I am not a tool guy. To be more specific, I am a total loser when it comes to any kind of home repair, home maintenance or new product assembly. The words “easy to assemble” on a package make me homicidal. Seriously, Jimmy Hoffa might still be alive today if I hadn’t been forced to put that bike together for my son’s sixth birthday. And invariably, I will end up with the box that is either missing a key part, or I will finish the project and have one large, important looking piece left over.

None of this stops my wife from giving me honey-do projects, and she tries to be encouraging, telling me what a great job I’ve done with such complex assignments as unplugging the toilet or changing a light bulb. It’s a lot like the encouragement I give my fifteen month old grandson when he walks across the room without falling down.

 Speaking of which, we recently bought our grandson a Little Tykes car. You know the one I’m talking about – red and yellow plastic, and he can sit in it and be pushed around for now, then use his feet to push himself around like Fred Flintstone when he gets a little older. When the box arrived and I saw the words “easy to assemble” I broke out in a cold sweat. My wife wisely hid all of the sharp instruments and bludgeons, warned the neighbors and locked me in the garage with the box of parts spread across the floor.

I don’t know if the assembly guides that come with these products are deliberately obscure or simply the result of a poor translation from the point of origination on Neptune, but I can’t follow them, and I don’t think I am alone. Not only is it impractical to make sense out of an instruction like, “Proceed side panel A to pursue bottom panel D for purposes of amazing junction and unite for screw L in rationale of compression using Phillips head,” it is entirely possible that these instructions should be rated inappropriate for anyone under the age of seventeen.

Sixteen hours later the car was assembled, in spite of the overwhelming obstacles facing me. My grandson now has a Little Tykes car of his very own and enjoys playing in it constantly, my wife encouraged me with a pat on the head and I’m feeling almost like a real tool guy. But . . . should there still be a wheel and an axle on my garage floor?

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