Our apartment has been going through many changes lately. The addition of my father's new “Big Mac” (a two year old Mac with a 27 inch screen) required a place to put it, since the dining room table was not really a very good option. Instead, he commandeered the t.v. room. He needed a desk, so I gave him mine, and I bought a new desk instead. I decided to buy a real office chair too since my butt was falling through the cane folding chair I'd been using. It took three weeks for the chair to arrive and I wasn't able to answer the door when it did come because I had fallen through the folding chair and gotten stuck two weeks before. The new desk arrived the same day (even though I had actually ordered it two and a half weeks after the chair). The shipping company called me and asked me if someone was home to sign for the desk. I told them I was home, and they asked me if there was someone there who could help bring the desk up to the apartment. I was like, “well I guess I can help,” And the guy answered, “no, not a woman. Is there anyone else home who could help?” Would I have volunteered myself to haul a desk up a flight and a half of stairs if there was someone else who could do it? I told them that my father was home but that he's 71 and it would probably be better if I helped. The guy on the phone went, “hmmm, can I call you back?” He called me back a few minutes later to tell me that the company decided that if there was no one to help him take it upstairs, then he'd just leave it at the entrance to the building. I'm like, “so that it will never in anyone's lifetime make it upstairs? How is that helpful to anyone?” Then I understood why the shipping and handling was so cheap. Because it was just shipping, no handling. A few minutes later, the door bell rang and there's a guy standing there next to a large box. I'm like, “so what was the whole deal about bringing it upstairs?” The guy rolls his eyes and answers, “If anyone asks, I left it downstairs at the entrance to the building.” I just nodded and said, “gotcha.”
First I put together the chair. It had about 4 pieces, and 6 pictures on a piece of paper which comprised the “instruction manual.” I put it together in about 10 minutes or so, sat on it, and tried to raise the seat up so I'd be able to see over the desk (I had to imagine the desk since it was still in the box at this point). I stood up and raised the lever. Nothing. I sat down and raised the lever. Nothing. I turned the chair over and peered at the lever. I poked it a few times. Lifted it, lowered it, pulled at the base of the chair which is supposed to be a piston but apparently is a piston that doesn't work. Also called a useless hunk of metal. I looked at the pictures again, scratched my head, got distracted by coloring them in, got frustrated that I still can't color in the lines, went back over the pictures trying to figure out what I did wrong, then realized that I'd have to be a complete moron to have screwed this up. Which is not outside the realm of possibility considering I can't even draw inside the lines. So I decided to move on to the desk. I brought it up a few pieces at a time because those shipping guys were right, that box was heavy. I finally got all the pieces upstairs and realized that there are about 900 pieces to this thing and a variety of different screws. There's even some furniture glue. I'm not really a fan of furniture glue. I'm always afraid I'm going to accidentally glue the instructions to an important piece of the furniture. Or glue it all in backwards or upside down. Glue is permanent.
An hour and a half later, I've got the whole thing put together. I found good places to screw in the extra pieces and even figured out where the oddly shaped plastic bits were supposed to go (I made a collage on my wall). I've got a few extra holes in the desk drawers, but that's ok because I'd realized pretty early on that I'd put the tracks on the top of the drawer instead of the bottom and you can't really even see them unless the drawers are open. It's not really my fault though because that's how it was in the picture. I was just so intent on the picture that I didn't notice that next to the picture was written “warning, this picture is upside down.” It did come out mostly symmetrical however, and hasn't collapsed yet, so I guess that's a pretty good sign.
I figured that if I could put the desk together, I had probably put the chair together just fine too. So I decided to call the company the next day to tell them that the chair didn't work right. The guy I spoke to was like, “ok, let's see if we can fix this. Sit on the chair.” I sat on the chair.
“Which side is the handle on?”
“The right side. I put the part that said “front” in the front if that's what you're asking.”
“Ok, good. Now stand up and pull the handle.”
Pull the handle?! Pull the handle?!!! Why didn't I think of that?! If I had just “pulled the handle” to begin with, I wouldn't be wasting his time and mine! I could put the entire chair together myself, but I guess pulling the handle that says “lift up” was past my mechanical ability.
He goes, “the piston probably just needs to loosen up a bit, but I guess I can send you a new one.”
I was like, “well I don't have all year to wait for it to loosen up on its own, and as far as I know they don't have yoga classes for pistons so how about if you just do that.”
He says, “can your husband replace it when it comes?”
“I don't have a husband but I can probably manage it.” I spent two years taking apart and putting together M-16s with at least 50 little metal pieces, springs, and pins. I can handle this measly 4 piece chair. Ok, actually it has 8 pieces now that I count, plus wheels and a few screws. The instructions were still 6 pictures long though.
I spent the next week peering over the top of my desk, waiting for the new piston to arrive. My former desk was now downstairs, being covered by “Big Mac,” and the t.v. had found a new place on the floor where the cats could watch Animal Planet if they so desired.
Finally the piston arrived in the mail. Unfortunately, the old piston was still stuck to the bottom of the seat. After spending 5 minutes trying to remove it by bracing my feet on the bottom of the seat while pulling on the legs, I finally gave up and got a hammer. I succeeded in scaring the pants off of Moby (to this day he doesn't wear any) and after clearing the cat fur out of my eyes, got the base off of the chair.
I attached the new piston but was afraid to sit on the chair for fear of getting it stuck and then having to pull out the hammer again if it didn't work and I had to remove it. So we had my father's friend Michael come over to deal with it. I figured that as a fairly large engineer, he could both figure out how to work the piston and remove it if need be. Thankfully, it worked because I was not ready to call up the company again. If I had, I'd have sent the entire thing back and to hell with them.