Holiday Shopping is Only Half the Battle
After you have savored the satisfaction of selecting and acquiring that perfect holiday gift for your kids or significant other, comes that deflating moment when you see those three little words on the carton: “Some assembly required.” It is a brief statement of fact that gets in the way of your present saying the “I love you” that you really want to express when they open it. You try to wrap your head around how you could have possibly become that final – unpaid – factory worker of the manufacturer who must bring that product to life, and, therefore, bring joy to that special someone.
Certainly, there are some gifts you can just allow to remain in the box to put together after opening, or even let your recipient have the honor of putting it together themselves. But then there is the bicycle, the playhouse, or the elliptical exercise device that will be so critical to their New Year’s resolution. Or a multitude of things that looked so perfect in the online picture, that actually arrives as three dozen components embedded in a Styrofoam matrix and a plastic bag of bolts, screws and an Allen wrench. There is no choice. They must be able to delight in and enjoy this present the moment they get it.
Time to get to work. I admit one of my faults is spending too little time with the instruction sheet. Most of them are so poorly written, and as someone who writes for a living, they offend my sensibilities. The worst ones use no words at all, only drawings that vaguely suggest the way to connect pieces by way of arrows and dotted lines. Yet after surveying the parts, there is no alternative but to try to understand the directions.
Most of the conventional nuts and bolts seem to make sense. Then there’s a confrontation with some type of exotic connector that must be precisely aligned with a faintly-visible reference mark before giving a screw a quarter turn while precariously balancing the two awkward pieces to be joined. Exhaustion sets in at this point along with the need for a caffeinated beverage. Upon returning to the project, if those two pieces haven’t fallen apart, assume that step was done correctly.
Finally, there is a moment of real relief when there are no more stray parts – especially unused lock washers – remaining. This special gift, carefully selected, now appears to have become a reality. Assembly required, assembly accomplished.
Next comes the move from the undisclosed secure location of assembly, to the room where you will bestow this extraordinary present. The best-case scenario involves wheels and overall dimensions smaller than a standard household doorway. If not, innovation comes into play, because this step is not going to be in the instruction sheet. Hint: Start with a non-structural home modification, like taking a door off its hinges. Think twice before employing a sledge hammer.
At last, the holiday festivities begin and you all gather to exchange gifts. Your beloved’s eyes open wide and light up with happiness! You hear the squeal of excitement, followed immediately by a big hug. They jump up and down exuberantly before first putting their hands on their new treasure. That’s when the time and effort putting it together is suddenly all worth it. Some assembly required. No problem.
About Tim Crawford
Tim Crawford worked at Keenan for more than 20 years and is now consulting for the company on communication, media relations and health care reform projects. Tim is a Certified Internet Marketer, chairs the Internet Marketing Association of New Mexico, and is a member of the California YMCA Board of Directors.