I have a theory about Ready-To-Assemble furniture. It goes something like this: Ready-To-Assemble furniture is meant to be put together, never to be taken apart and re-assembled. I’m fairly certain that theory is shared by Ready-To-Assemble enthusiasts (and haters) everywhere.
Yesterday, I spent some time on Kerr Street helping Kerr Street Ministries’ employees and volunteers move into its newly minted, soon-to-open office building located across the street from its old digs. Upon arrival, I was handed a cordless power drill and a container of drill bits. I was led down a narrow stairway to a rather small office that was engulfed by an L-shaped desk. A desk that had definitely once been a lot of pieces in a Ready-To-Assemble furniture box.
“Can you dismantle this so that we can take it up the stairs?”
My left eyebrow shot straight up. Being the somewhat sceptical person that I am, I replied that I could attempt to dismantle it but that it didn’t look to be the sort of piece that would (1) come apart easily or, if it came apart, (2) be as solid of a structure once pieced together again. If someone managed to piece it back together at all.
“Well, we have to try, because it has to go.” Well, OK, then.
I was left to my own devices and immediately had flashbacks to all of the IKEA furniture I had assembled in the past as well as that one time I purchased a chest of drawers from Wal-Mart and enlisted my younger brother’s help in piecing it together.
Justin and I dragged the box up two flights of stairs and into my living room and spent 45 minutes laying out every last piece. After studying the instructions, we began piecing the base together. Fifteen minutes in, we screwed a board in backwards. In an attempt to gingerly remove the screw, Justin cracked the board in half. And, that’s when he said, “I have to go do homework now,” leaving me surrounded by a sea of boards and screws. That chest of drawers went straight back to Wal-Mart. In a very misshapen, heavily duck-taped box.
Now I was being asked to dismantle a jumbo desk. I managed to remove the L-shape part, but I could not get the upper half of the straightaway to budge, even after loosening up all the screws and miscellaneous do-dads. After staring at the desk for some time and then shimmying under it, over it and around it, I went searching for another body.
He came to the same conclusion: “I don’t think this piece is meant to be taken apart.”
But we soldiered on, and soon five of us were in this small room engulfed by an L-shaped desk. We managed to unscrew, pry and pull the desk into several smaller pieces, dragging some up the stairs and others to an SUV in the parking garage in the basement.
Staring into the back of the SUV, someone said, “There’s no way that desk is going back together.” To which another replied, “Oh, I can totally put that back together, and I’ll do so just to prove you wrong.”
And, that’s when I said, “Well, guys, my work here is done.”