Inspired by a little-known picture book from the pen of Bethany Tudor, this is a diary, of sorts, where I document some of my thoughts, activities, and ideas as I explore the challenges met by the characters in the story: hard work, the care and nurture of others, housekeeping skills, life changes, charity, community, and cooperation, among others. Like Samuel and Samantha, the ducks in the tale, I struggle and succeed, cope and celebrate, work and play, handling the tasks that come my way. I invite you to join me on my journey.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Assembly Pep Talk

For a few years now, I have been using one of my kitchen chairs as a desk chair. Inconvenient, yes, but not terribly annoying, considering the fact that I was looking for a certain style of desk chair to replace the temporary one and I was willing to wait for what I wanted. Well, on Saturday, while shopping at Target, I found the perfect chair --- the desired style at the right price --- a Parsons chair for $24.98. I can hardly believe I found such a bargain. I rarely, if ever, find a bargain. I am just not one of those bargain-savvy shoppers, despite the fact that I have a degree in Economics. Sad, but true.

Do you know what else is sad, but true? The opening paragraph of the instructions I had to follow to assemble my new chair. Being the wife of a husband who often tackles do-it-yourself projects, I am no stranger to assembly instructions. They begin with a list of hardware/parts and continue with steps that, if followed correctly, take you to your destination, be it a repaired automobile or, as in this case, a finished piece of furniture. They get right down to business. They certainly don’t come with a “pep talk” like this:
CONGRATULATIONS --- you’ve purchased a fine furniture item from Target.

We have designed our furniture with you, the Target guest in mind. Our clear, easy to follow step by step instructions will guide you through the project from start to finish. Feel confident that this will be a fun and rewarding project. The final product will be a quality piece of furniture that will go together smoothly and give years of enjoyment.
Since I copied the above statement directly from the actual assembly instructions that arrived with my chair, I can only surmise that such directions now come with “encouraging words” for those who need them. I guess I am not one of those people; hence, my bewilderment.

To Target’s credit, the instructions were clear and easy to follow. However, I am not sure that a $24.98 chair qualifies as “fine furniture” that will “give years of enjoyment.” I am also not sure whether sitting on my kitchen floor and installing a few bolts are activities that come up to the definition of “fun and rewarding.” Productive, maybe.

Have enough of us really lost (or simply not acquired) the basic skills necessary to assemble something as simple as a chair without it becoming an issue of fun or self-esteem? Please tell me we aren’t that far gone.

Note: I also don't like the idea of Target referring to me as a “guest.” When I shop in their store, I don’t feel like a guest; I feel like a consumer, which is what I am.

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