OPINION: The “fun” of assembling furniture
QUITE a few years ago I wrote a column for this newspaper about the humble Allen - or hex - key.
My interest was prompted by a trip to the Swedish homewares behemoth, IKEA; as I sat with the little tool in my hand trying to assemble a Blurkjaad or a Klaarkstad, I wondered who had come up with the idea for the thing.
A quick search on the internet revealed the Allen key was invented by an employee of the Allen Manufacturing Company of Hartford, Connecticut. But the name of the employee remains a secret.
After a couple of weeks assembling flat-pack furniture with the wretched device, I believe I now know why the inventor's identity has been concealed.
If his or her name was known, I believe someone would have hunted them down and shot them.
How many weekends have been collectively spent assembling bookcases, beds and outdoor furniture in the past 30 years, I wonder. How many hours of cursing, arguing with spouses and dummy spits?
When I was a kid, my parents already possessed enough furniture to fill our house, and they never, ever bought any more in their lifetime. When they originally bought it, it was ordered through a local store and made to order. Six weeks later it was delivered by burly men in large trucks, and they carried it in, positioned it where Mum and Dad wanted it, and then they left. Then we sat at the dining table, relaxed on the sofa, and slept in the beds. End of story.
Now, one has to wander for hours through huge warehouses, look at thousands of things, identify the object of desire, find it in a gigantic room full of gigantic shelves, purchase it, get it home and then assemble the bloody thing.
In the past two weeks I've had to build two bed frames (bought over the internet and delivered to my door, at least) with dodgy photocopied wordless instructions; the central supporting rail was a good 2cm lower than it should have been in order to be useable. I managed to reposition it and am now sleeping relatively safely, but in the back of my mind is the fear that when I slide between the sheets at night the whole thing will collapse into its pre-me state.
Then, on Saturday my sister phoned to tell me an outdoor sofa was on special at ALDI, a store that was a novelty to me as there were none where I used to live.
So I fronted up, quite unprepared for the mayhem. Old ladies were using their elbows to push into the queue. My Achilles tendon almost ruptured after being rammed by a trolley. And then I had to lug the wretched thing home and assemble it.