Saturday, 8 March 2014

Then and Now: A surprise discovery

In recent years I have not been able to do self assembly. Only today, as I was happily working through the instruction booklets doing just this, did I consider the reasons for my inability to date.

Then: As a single girl living alone 15-20 years ago, I was incredibly self sufficient. (It was before wi-fi and home computers and all that stuff). I remember building my first nest of coffee tables and bedside unit from B&Q all by myself and never gave it a second thought.

Fast forward 10 years and I could no longer do these things. Ikea had become popular by this time and whenever we purchased anything (we, I was married by then) I would set about constructing it like this:

1. Open up all the packaging and tip everything, including the little screws onto the floor. I would be in a rush as would have dinner cooking or similar and had finite time.

2. Look at the picture of the finished product and assimilate in my mind how the strewn components ought to fit together.

3. Assemble them as I saw fit, stopping only when either
    a. I had completed it (and discarded the 'spare' screws, nuts and Allan keys). This occasionally happened. But more commonly
    b. The assembly ground to a halt as an early mistake came to take significance and prevent further construction. (A bit like in sudoku when you know you've gone wrong somewhere but you just keep doing the other bits of the puzzle until it catches up with you.) Anyway, I would usually find I had a piece orientated the wrong way and the groove was at the wrong side or I'd grabbed the wrong screw at some point and now did not have any long ones left.

4. So I would leave things partially complete, stomp off muttering about the stupid instructions made for idiots and begrudgingly ask OH to build it. He would annoy me by taking an age to do it and when he did get round to it, he meticulously counted and laid out the screws, got the tools out, and gave it his full attention.

I convinced myself I was just no good at these things and shrugged it off.  Why have a dog and bark yourself? No need for me to learn.

Now: Since stopping drinking I have noticed my concentration and patience is improved in other areas, being able to read a newspaper article to the end and interacting with the children.
This week I bought a cute little set of drawers to fit neatly inside my wardrobe. I was going to re-organise, chuck out, and streamline the pile of trainers, fleeces and sports bags at the bottom of my wardrobe. I was keen to get on with it and decided to do it this morning, when left home alone. It couldn't be that difficult surely?

I laid everything out and surprisingly, looked at the 'stupid' instructions complete with bendy arrows, close ups of corners (with screw and nut combo's) and spotted the important bits: the difference between the two ends, the side the groove was on etc.
I methodically followed the instructions in the correct order, giving it my full concentration. See the picture, drawer runners and everything!

Very quickly I had the whole thing assembled. All the drawers worked. It was not wobbly. There were no left over screws or similar. I had not been 'stressed' by doing it. I was feeling so proud of myself I thought I would get on with lifting it into the said wardrobe………only to find it was fractionally too big and the wardrobe door could not open and close. 

This is not an important part of the story. The point is that it was not my ineptitude nor the stupid instructions which prevented me doing self assembly, it was the fact I was permanently harassed, stressed, chronically hungover and unable to concentrate.

I am glad to no longer be any of those things (although I still have a pile in the wardrobe in need of attention!)

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