My Father Contemplates War with Sweeden

I’m slowly settling into the new place.  My friends Meg, John, and Jamie helped my parents and I unload all my worldly possessions in 30 minutes, which I find pretty impressive.  Either that or I just don’t own much stuff.  Just kidding, I own plenty.  Still, I got to see John carry my full sized mattress up all by himself, which I’d heard he could do, but it’s really quite something to see.

My roommate–a fellow Razorback named Brittaney–is bringing a dining room table soon, and then, we’ll be more or less set.  I did have to buy a dresser, though, and other than a few brief bouts of homesickness, the dresser is the only part of the move that’s brought me to tears.

My old dresser was a little small and which I bought in an antique store with dreams of refinishing it.  I never even replaced the missing drawer pull, so after appreciating its potential without doing anything to help it live up to said potential, I sold it on craigslist.  I bought a new one at IKEA.  And, look, maybe I should have known better, but I dropped a sizable chunk of money in order to get out of my lease early (as if trying to be cartoonishly horrible, Vicki the landlady’s immediate response to me telling her I needed to break my lease was to sing-song: “It’s gonna cost you!”) and paid various deposits all over town, so when I found a nice looking, fairly inexpensive dresser with lots of storage space, I bought it.

My parents were both willing to help me put it together, and soon, we were sorting cams and dowells like puzzle pieces on the dining room floor.  Mom and I quickly developed a system, so my father wandered over to the couch and fell asleep.  He’s good at assembling these sorts of things, but my parents did a lot for me in the process of this move, so if I could screw all the pieces together while he slept, I thought that might be best for everyone.

About 1/3 of the way through, Mom and I hit a snag.  (1) There are extra pieces.  My first instinct was that we’d left something out, but after flipping through the directions several times, even I must admit we are right.  There are pieces that are completely irrelevant to the dresser.  (2) The screws on one end of the dresser do not line up with the screws on the other side.  Even if we get it together, there will be gaps, and if the drawers fit in at all, they will be crooked, there will probably be gapping, and the whole thing will look like a hot mess.  As we figure this out, my father wakes up.

We explained the problem to him, and he is understandably unhappy.  He flips through the pictographic directions and confirms that we’re screwed.  His first reaction is that we should take it back.  I stared at the half assembled dresser and hate that plan.  I’ll have to unscrew every screw, undo every cam, pull out every dowell, and we’ll never get it back in the box.  They use some sort of sophisticated oragami to pack the pieces in there, and we’ll never recreate it.  I picture us hauling in two flat boxes with pieces sticking out of the ends and duct tape wrapped generously around the whole thing.  It makes me tired just thinking about it.

My father’s second plan is to call and ask what our options are.  “Look,” he says, “there’s a picture in here of some happy Sweedish people on the phone with customer service.  Of course, there’s no phone number listed for you to call, but we should be able to call them.”  He looks up a number while mom and I ponder the dresser’s exoskeleton.

A few minutes later, I hear him talking to customer service.  He explains the problem, starting out by simply saying the thing is broken and we can’t to put it together.  This is true, but I suspect that anyone who’s ever had difficulty assembling their furniture has made this argument.  This can’t be right; it must be broken.  So, while he is right, and I can see the evidence that he is right, I’m not surprised the woman on the phone doesn’t believe him.

Dad’s final solution is to buy a power drill.  He’s actually surprised that I don’t own one, but I’m actually relieved to send him out for it.  Everyone was frustrated by then, and I couldn’t help but think the source of their frustration is this thing I chose to buy.  I didn’t make it wrong or include the extra parts, but I bought furniture that had to be assembled.  After they were good enough to load me up and helped me move, perhaps they’d done enough and deserved a nice vacation instead of a bonus round that prominently featured a hammer and an Allen wrench.  And so, my tension grew and as soon as they were gone, I shed a few hot, guilty tears.

My father is a decent carpenter.  He’s watched countless hours of building and home improvement shows on PBS on Saturday afternoons, and he built my entertainment center, my bookshelf, and for a while made homemade grandfather clocks.  So, armed with a power drill and a hammer, he forced the assembled pieces to bend to his will.  One of the drawers stuck a bit, but I figured I just wouldn’t put anything in it.  Dad grabbed my hammer and pounded away until it slid smoothly in and out.  Against all odds, I have a dresser that looks remarkably like the one in the store.

I’m more or less moved, but I wanted to mention that the blog will be moving too.  They’re working on redoing the Arkansas Times page, and when they do, this blog won’t be on the new site.  I’ve been looking into my options, and I’m working on moving my stuff from her to:  I’ve laid the groundwork, but I’m flying out to Michigan tomorrow for several days for work and may not have time to get to it right away.  I’m working on it, though.  I’ve enjoyed writing it and appreciate that you have taken the time to read it.

And now, I’m off to bed a mere two hours after when I planned to go to bed and roughly four hours before I will wake up and head out again.  If there are typos in this, please forgive me, but if I want to get any sleep at all, I’m going to have to skip the proofreading.

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