No one will ever mistake me for a mechanical engineer.
I have been left bruised and fatigued after many an encounter with
“easy to assemble” products from toys to barbecues to furniture.
I have suffered injuries to my fingers, knuckles and ego.
Just for the record, I am not a complete klutz. I have a reasonably
well stocked tool box and a basic grasp of How Things Work.
So it was that I set out on a project one recent weekend that was
simplicity itself. We’re not talking about building a computer from
scratch or creating a cello from a block of wood.
Nope, we’re taking about patio furniture. A couple of screws here, a
couple of bolts there, no problem.
It’s guy stuff. We’re genetically disposed to nail things together.
I assembled a small table in 10 minutes flat. Attach legs to table
top, secure them, turn upright, place cold beer on surface.
Then came the chairs.
The concept of a chair isn’t difficult to comprehend. A flat place
for your rear end supported by four legs and a back.
But it appears I purchased the chairs from hell, ones that require
elite dexterity and knowledge of thermodynamics and structural
analysis for assembly.
These wrought iron monstrosities came in three parts and required me
to insert bolts through holes that appeared to be machined by a
political prisoner from a far-flung province in China. Who is blind.
The instructions were incomprehensible and the schematics looked like
an ink blot. It was like taking a SAT test in Welch. “Dw i ddim yn
The bolts would hold the two portions of the chair in place along
with a u-shaped bracket which would allow the chair’s user to
slightly recline, sort of like a rocking chair.
Because of that feature, none of the parts fit flush. You had to tilt
one part to align with the other while threading a screw, some
washers and bolts through holes of varying sizes at the same time you
held the bracket in place.
It didn’t work with the chair upright, or on its side. However,
turning it upside down and holding the parts together with one hand
while threading the screws with the other hand seemed to work. All it
took was a maneuver that would test Houdini. In chains.
I finally got the chairs assembled, after exhausting my patience, my
sanity and every cuss world I could muster. Estimated time: about and
hour and 45 minutes.
That’s only part of the story, however. I had the garage door open
while I worked and at some point I had the feeling someone was
When I turned around, there were two ducks standing at the entrance
to my garage, watching intently. The stayed about five minutes and
even approached within six feet or so.
Now I know this sounds like a joke that begins, “So these two ducks
walk into a bar…”
But it isn’t. I wasn’t drinking and I’m not given to embellishing a
story. It really happened.
There are ponds in the area so it’s not surprising to see a duck or
two in the neighborhood.
These two seem to be enjoying my plight. Or maybe I thought so
because of my, ahem, fowl mood. Have you every seen a duck laugh? I’m
pretty sure I did.
Clearly, this was a sign. Some higher power was sending me a message,
cryptic as it may have been.
Celtic legend holds that ducks symbolize transition due to their
That’s good enough for me. I will soon be transiting from handyman to
purchaser of fully assembled goods.
The toolbox is being put away to appear on “Antiques Roadshow”
sometime in the distant future.
And I am at peace.
Rolling around on the floor with furniture is one thing. But being
mocked by ducks is quite another.