Just follow these easy instructions

Published 8:12 am Tuesday, November 27, 2012

After helping my Mom break up her house, pack up for Atlanta, bring a third of it back to Donalsonville, hang pictures and get it all just right, you would think that all the hard part is over.

“There is just one more job I have for you boys to do,” she told me and my brother this past weekend. “It should not take long and there are some easy instructions,” she said, causing immediate red flags in my brain.

Easy instructions are one of the greatest oxymorons of our lifetime.  My thoughts have always been that if something was easy to assemble then you didn’t need instructions. If you have instructions, most men aren’t going to pay attention to them anyway.

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This is one of the lessons men have to learn again and again over time. It began with the first swing set I ever put together. To this day, I think fondly of Bob Dutton, who graciously came over with flood lights and a helping hand one Christmas Eve as the project bogged down with literally hundreds of screws and parts left over.

Not too many years later, I thought that the charcoal grill I had long wanted to buy could not be that hard to assemble. Besides, I could do it myself and save that $10. Never, ever again will you be able to say that I don’t learn from mistakes, because I would rather cook over wooden twigs on the ground than assemble another grill.

Bicycles also seem easy until you begin to adjust the tension on the gearshift of a ten speed bike. Like grills and swing sets, I now know that it is simply worth the $10 or $20 assembly fee to have a bike put together. It is not just worth the ten bucks, it is one of the greatest bargains around.

The final piece of furniture to go in my Mom’s new place was a wooden filing cabinet. “Only one Philips screwdriver required,” the package taunted.  “Just follow these easy instructions.” How hard could that be?

Parts A through Q were clearly labeled in this two-hour project.  The various screws and hardware were outlined in the instructions, although it wasn’t always clear which pages they were accustomed to. We methodically read through the instruction manual and wondered just what we had gotten ourselves into.

By the time we had finished, we were once again exhausted. Miraculously, there were exactly as many screws as were needed to complete the project. None were lost or left over. All seemed to be right with the world.

Christmas is for children, but the assembly doesn’t have to be just for parents. Believe me, helping keep the local installer in business is well worth the few extra dollars. If the installer is any good at all, they wouldn’t really read those easy instructions anyway.