Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Bunk Bed

In August, I constructed a bunk bed. Assembled. From the standard Scandinavian outlet of fine particle-board based furniture.

Owl Jr had just come graduated from the crib. We made the sage decision to have Owlet and Owl Jr sleep in the same room, in a bunk bed, and leave the other room as a play room. (In actuality, now they have one tiny room for playing and sleeping, and one room with an infrequently used tent).

It took me 3 hours. Or 4, depending on how truthful I want to be, and how prepared I am for humiliation.

These things look so simple in the show room. Until you get it delievered in three flat boxes, each one absolutely packed with long 2x4's which look exactly alike. The wood pieces differ only slightly, by the position of the holes, by the number, by some currently indiscernible difference which you better discover before you get 80% of the way through and find that the 2x4 with the three holes on one side and two holes on the other is NOT interchangeable with the 2x4 with the two holes on one side and three holes on the other.

There is a hopelessness that is perhaps the closest I will come to understanding the Bataan Death March when opening the boxes. Thirty or so of these 2x4s, neatly arranged, a wordless instruction manual, with litigiously minded safety steps (Please ensure you are not constructing said bed in front of a lava pit, firing squad, fault line), oh, and an Allen wrench.

The instructions are trying to do the 'less is more' thing, where it uses friendly drawings and gross approximations to what you have in front of you to assemble something that will keep one of your children five feet in the air and the other hopefully uncrushed beneath. Due to the enormity of said retail furniture outlet, they cannot have written instructions, anywhere, I suppose that would cut into their costs and they might not be able to provide 24/7 free childcare for their workers or a comprehensive dental plan. Not that I begrudge said workers, if it wasn't for progress in labour we'd still be sending  five year olds down chimneys to clean them and contract exotic, lethal lung ailments.

But it does leave me turning said instructions this way and that, thinking that if only they had a single line saying, perhaps "Ensure you are using the smallest wood piece which doesn't really look that much smaller but it is, and you can tell by this small divot on both sides and is represented in the drawing by a whimsical X. Because if you don't the entire contraption will fall apart and possibly burst into flames". Just one line. A little hint. There's a reason we have moved from pictographs to a written language, as a species. 

I blustered through. It's made, it's stood up and has not fallen, crushing Owl Jr. on the bottom, yet. I take this as success.

I really cannot wait until they grow out of it and I can burn it in a large pagan pyre on some beach somewhere. Using the instructions as kindling.


2 comments:

Anonymous said...

There's a UK TV & Radio show called "I've never seen Star Wars" in which a variety of celebrities are tasked with doing things they've never done before.

The re-launch of the TV series this week featured Stephen Fry, and one of his never-done-it-before tasks was to construct a piece of flat-pack (Ikea) furniture. It was quite amusing, but his conclusion was that the instructions needed more to them, either a bit of writing or even just some colour.

He also got a piercing, took a boxing lesson and (more staggeringly, but less amusingly) watched Only Fools & Horses.

Niteowl said...

Stephen Fry seems like the sort of fellow who would have taken boxing lessons, but a very stringent form of boxing, with only, say, three or four proper ways to throw a punch, any other variance being RIGHT OUT.

And he seems the sort to have furniture handed down, through generations, not merely assembled.