Day 211: Some Assembly Required…

After a brief holiday with the natives, I shall now record my experiences with the festivities of the tribe before, during and after the strange fat man in the red suit’s visit to the tribal abode.  It has been confirmed to me that the legend of the strange fat man in the red suit is merely that: a mythical story of eight mythical, flying, antlered animals pulling a large sleigh with the fat man in the red suit and gifts for young natives.  I had suspected that this might indeed be the case, however, by order of the tribal leader, we shall perpetuate and promote this myth to the natives until such time as they no longer believe or shall discover the difference.  This apparently is the custom in this culture and is part of the festiveness of the season.

Throughout the past month, the tribal leader has been gathering items and gifts for the natives from “the fat man in the red suit” to be placed under the festive indoor tree on the appropriate evening, to simulate the visit from the mythical old elf.  These objects, or playthings, have come in all shapes, sizes and colors as well as varying levels of complexity.  Most objects that have been gathered arrive in some sort of packaging, also of varying levels of complexity.  Now, I can utterly and completely understand the need for the appropriate packaging around many of these playthings, however, what I fail to understand is the level of security involved with extricating a toy from its secure environment.

When I was a wee child, I recall receiving toys and playthings that arrived in a plastic-cardboard packaging, simple and easy to extricate the product in its confines.  However, time has indeed brought about change.  The packaging that secured the natives’ gifts in their rather sturdy packaging resembled a rat’s nest of tangled cords and wires.  Upon attempting to remove the ridiculously tight wiring, it donned on me that I was not properly equipped to achieve the goal of liberating the toy from its packaging.  Arming myself with a handheld cutting device, I continued my former challenge.  After successfully conquering the toy’s first line of defense, I was met with yet another wave of security features involving more wires in challenging to reach places.  Depending on the toy or object, there can be more security features from this point forward that may involve the use of cutting devices, screw turning tools or very nimble phalanges.  There must be an expectation that the trading post that sells these toys and playthings are susceptible to those who would unlawfully take them without proper payment.  However, methinks that implementing security features that, at best, require fifteen to twenty minutes of active work extricating the product is slightly overdone.  Perhaps the most precarious part of extricating objects from packaging for small natives is the impatience of the natives themselves.  I have heard tales and been present at the extricating of a toy from a packaging whence even the most civilized native has lost her mind and descended into madness.  Indeed, those who design security features does not belong to a tribe with a two-year old native.

Knowing the prior points just mentioned, the tribal leader instructed me to extricate the toys prior to Tuesday and Wednesday receiving them.  So, late one evening prior to the fat man in the red suit arriving at the tribal abode, we began our work.  For the most part, the extrication of said toys and playthings did not present too many challenges.  However, upon opening one package containing a pretend food preparation area for Tuesday, I was suddenly reminded that the worst was, indeed, yet to come.

There are some toys that are assembled and are ready to be played with out of the packaging – and there are others that require assembly.  Lots of assembly.  Assembly that would make grown men cower; that would make even the most industrious of engineers lose their minds.  Yes, this plaything brought new meaning to the motto “Some assembly required.”  And thus, I began my work.  The time, at this point, was 11:30 PM.

First, I removed all of the parts from the box container.  Each “part” was attached to a plastic wire frame in the same color as the part.  Each wire frame contained multiple parts, labeled appropriately, according to the printed instructions.  Below is the multitude of wire frames with the parts which composed the play food preparation area.

I then armed myself appropriately and according to the printed instructions with a cutting instrument and a screw turning device, tools necessary for the plaything’s construction.  The instructions were composed of a mere dozen steps, of seemingly basic skill, which fit my talents aptly.

Each “part” to the project required being removed from the plastic wire frame with the handheld cutting device, and some parts required further trimming after being removed from their frame.  In my many years of experience of assembly and construction, I have hardly seen any playthings of this magnitude with as challenging and complex construction as this monstrosity.   Truly, once assembled, the plaything shall not come apart.

Following the instructions to the letter, or at least, to the best that they would allow, the plaything was assembled, piece by piece.  After the construction was complete, the task was to apply colorful stickers and labels to simulate pretend use of the native’s food preparation area.

The entire project took two hours of skilled labor and active assembly.  Perhaps the object could have been assembled more expeditiously if the time had not been almost twilight when it began.  Or, perhaps, the construction could have been completed earlier if I had been consuming an adult beverage.  Alas, the task was accomplished and the time was now 1:30 AM.  Below is the final product, after assembly.

I returned the product to its place of concealment and made preparations for the evening’s slumbers.  Great strides were made this day in preparation for the fat man in the red suit’s “arrival.”  It was indeed a clever idea to assembly, or, at the very least, open the product before being received by rather impatient natives.

And so, thus ends my tale of “some assembly required.”  Many lessons can be taken from this experience.  First, never assume that an object or plaything will be easily assembled and without the proper tools for the job.  Second, always remove security features prior to young and impatient natives receiving them.  Lastly, during assembly and the removal of security features from toys, pour yourself an adult beverage to assist in the project at hand.  By following these clues, these three guidelines will provide more enjoyable preparations for the season.


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