Some Assembly Required

For my 6-year-old grandson’s birthday we bought him a basketball hoop.  Kiefer is naturally coordinated and we thought it would be practically a necessity to get him one.  A trip to our large, 24-hour-sell-everything-retail-store revealed half a dozen different models that came in kits.  I picked one out of the middle and they wheeled it out for me.  The picture of the thing looked fairly simple – a sturdy pole with backboard, rim, braces – about what one would expect.  5 year warranty.  Made in the USA.  Portable.  Height-adjustable.  Shatterproof.  I said to my wife, this doesn’t look so hard.  A few bolts and I’m done.  This is the equivalent of the words, “Hey, watch this!”, which should have been a warning to me.  I had no idea how far down the ladder merchandising had devolved.

Upon opening the carton, which weighed about 80 or 90 lbs, the first thing that caught my eye was a bright yellow and black sheet that said,

WARNING!

YOU MUST FOLLOW ALL INSTRUCTIONS FOR POLE JOINT SCREW ATTACHMENT AND POLE SEATING.  FAILURE TO DO SO COULD ALLOW THE POLES TO SEPARATE, RESULTING IN SERIOUS PERSONAL INJURIES SUCH AS CUTS, BROKEN BONES, NERVE DAMAGE, SPINAL OR BRAIN INJURY, OR DEATH.  PROPERTY DAMAGE MAY ALSO OCCUR.

The “kit” consisted of 104 parts.  Tools required:

  1. adjustable wrench
  2. 362 lbs. of sand or water
  3. two ½” wrenches
  4. two 9/16″ wrenches
  5. two 7/16″ wrenches
  6. two ¾” wrenches
  7. one ⅜” socket wrench
  8. one ⅝” wrench
  9. funnel
  10. phillips screwdriver
  11. scrap wood
  12. rubber mallet

A few parts of the backboard were actually pre-assembled, but other than that it was the equivalent of getting a kit for a LOG CABIN and finding inside an “owner’s manual” (28 pages actually) and trees.

None of this stuff was on the outside of the box.

Oh well, heck, I’ve got an Engineering Degree.  Even at age 73 I was up for it.  How hard can it be?  Do you know, there are even three springs in this thing!  (It’s height-adjustable and the rim goes “sproing” when you stuff the basket.)   And then there was the part that said, “TWO Adults REQUIRED FOR THIS STEP.”  She’s still not speaking to me.

It took me more than half an hour just to inventory the parts.  Amazingly, they were all there, AND NOT ONE SINGLE EXTRA PART!  My, aren’t we getting efficient?  (One part rolled behind the chest freezer I was using for a workbench – took half an hour to retrieve that.)  About 8 hours and 4 Tylenol Extra-Strengths later the #@:&!~ thing was done.  Except for the sand/water – I think we’re going to use pre-bagged sand on top of it.  It occurred to me that water will freeze and the thing would take more coolant than a Humvee.

This was quite an experience and it shows just how much things have changed over the years.  Maybe this is the latest scheme for competing with cheap foreign labor.  For one thing, it shows we have too many blankety-blank lawyers in this country.  I just know that WARNING! is going to give me nightmares.

Looks Are Deceiving!

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About Jim Wheeler

U. S. Naval Academy, BS, Engineering, 1959; Naval line officer and submariner, 1959 -1981, Commander, USN; The George Washington U., MSA, Management Eng.; Aerospace Engineer, 1981-1999; Resident Gadfly, 1999 - present. Political affiliation: Independent, tending progressive as the GOP recedes from its Eisenhower roots.
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One Response to Some Assembly Required

  1. Duane Graham says:

    Jim,

    After putting together two such monstrosities (two different boys), I feel your pain.

    Duane

    Like

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