Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Welcome to Adulthood! Some assembly required.

I'm working through the traditional American rite of passage: putting together one's own furniture. I haven't bought curtains, I haven't splurged on a rug. I didn't buy a bureau or bedside table - boxes will do until I have an income.

Somehow, after a day of shopping, the most essential item for my room seemed to be a rolling file cart from The Container Store.

I know. I know. I needed curtains. But somehow having my work life in order seemed like the most important part of moving in.

The cabinets were delivered to my Brooklyn apartment for a $35 fee. I wouldn't have fit in the subway at rush hour if I'd been carrying such things (assuming I was beastly enough to schlep them home). The cart arrived in a big box with that beautiful white mesh cart picture on the front. This is what it looked like when it arrived:

I was familiar with this particular problem. I had recently phoned a good friend who was moving from L.A. back to N.Y. She bought a desk she had to put together and was enraged when she found the directions expected her to own a drill. She wanted a desk, not a drill, and buying a drill would cost almost as much as a desk.

Never one to overlook these life lessons, I brought my brother's Phillips set here all the way from Ohio. We also have a tool box in the apartment. I opened a beer. I was ready.

Unfortunately, the directions were not specific to this piece of equipment. They were generic Elfa directions, mass-produced for all of their products. "If your product has drawers..." and "You may have to..." started most every sentence. I spent more time discerning what my shelf needed than actually working on it.

The first challenge was this: at the top of the paper, it suggested I use a plastic mallet. Is this a household item? Do you in fact own a plastic mallet? My apartment's toolbox happens to lack this "common" item, and so I found an old beach towel and wrapped it around the shelf as I hammered each piece in.

I turned the directions one way, then the other. The picture was for several different shelving units, so I guessed one was mine and put two pieces together. I beat one piece in rather fiercely, decided it was making too much noise, and abandoned the pieces until morning.

Can you guess what happens next? I wake up to discover I've put the piece in the wrong side of the other piece. I begin to try to pound it out. It doesn't budge.

I call the hotline, and humbly confess my mistake. The woman on the line laughs and tells me to use "a little elbow grease." Feeling renewed by her use of this charming idiom, I pound it out and put the whole bit together successfully.

Of course, it looks empty. Because it hasn't included the file folders.

I spend the day tracking down file folders to fit it. Welcome to adulthood! It takes a little doing, but it all gets done.

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