It has been a few weeks since moving in to my new home, so I decided to drag out the last of the last and unpack some of the final boxes that have been cluttering the living room. I set a goal. I was determined not to stop my efforts until at least three of the offending boxes were distributed and emptied.
These remaining boxes are those that are filled with the unsorted and the unwanted semi-useful things you discover you have at the end of any move . . . things like salsa jars of nails and screws, odd assortments of pens, paper clips, and rubber bands, virgin flat sponges awaiting the magical release of hydration. Headsets that may or may not function, mystery remote controls, loose buttons, loose batteries that might work so you best keep them. Plastic cutlery, paper doilies for making Valentines, a voice recorder with no corresponding USB cord, candles, napkin rings. And those dratted twist ties. Why do we save so damn many twist ties?
You know the mix. Stuff that doesn’t really “go with” any of the other “themed” boxes at the tail end of a move. Stuff that we call “junk” but feel compelled to move with us. Stuff that we throw into boxes as the carpet cleaner is arriving, all while chanting to self, I will survive this move!
After such an epic move, three boxes isn’t so much. Victory would be mine today. I started with Box #1. But lo. Midway down in the box I found an unassembled Desktop Foosball Table in its glossy unopened box. What a waste to not be having fun with this, I thought. This foosball table was a gift from someone who loves me, who knows how I love foosball, who wants me to have fun in life. I decided that it was time, right then and there, to do something that I never do: assemble something on the spot. By myself. Drop everything and just do it. My unpacking screeched to a stop. It was time to assemble.
I am one of those personality types who does not read directions. When I get a new phone or fancy appliance, I conscientiously file its new manual neatly with the others from various small and large appliances — in the event of dysfunctional emergency.
Truth, I think I am directions-phobic. I know that it must sound weird, but when I start reading directions, I stress. My stomach knots up, and I feel panic-y. Why? I don’t know. I have the native intelligence to read and comprehend the required steps. Still, it feels more intuitive for me to find my way, experientially so, than by reading that tiny, tiny print in the directions.
I remember the towel bar that I put up in the bathroom. I was so proud of the initial efforts: buying it at the harware store. I borrowed a drill from a colleague and found a level in the garage. I then spent untold perfection-istic algebraic minutes trying to perfectly level the bar by performing algebraic feats of ratios, circumferences, and order of operations . . . only to find, when cleaning up my mess, that there were clear directions in the box with a handy-dandy paper guide that you tape to the wall — which would have made everything so much easier in the leveling process.
Instead, I solved my equations, measured, leveled, and drilled. I persevered. Three new and unnecessary holes dotting the wall later, the bar was finally mounted . . . quite level actually . . . but unfortunately with clean up that required a session of spackling, sanding, and painting. Sometimes it’s not easy being green.
This is what I learned from my DIY foosball table assembly:
- Before undertaking any project of this magnitude, find your reading glasses.
- Organize your resources. If the directions say that you are going to need a flathead screwdriver, track down the screwdriver before you begin.
- Don’t be intimidated by technical terms like “Allen wrench.” Google is my friend.
Lay your hardware out in an organized fashion. Try not to lose or squander resources.
- Appreciate clairvoyant hardware-packaging people who include one extra washer and one extra tiny screw. (See #4.)
- Rely on previous experience. Washers are provided for a reason.
- Some steps are best done collaboratively. It does no good to screw one of four screws in really tightly and then have to back it off to fit the others.
- Rely on finished-product pictures that are provided. Foosball is about winning. Situating all red team members on the defensive end of the playing field creates no offense to win.
- Too much zeal during assembly can result in split and broken pieces.
- When all 4 pieces split upon application, it might not be about your zeal. It might be about a lesser-quality product. (See #9.)
- It’s okay not to ask for help.
- You can break a sweat using an Allen wrench.
- Just because you don’t ask for help and you strip a screw head doesn’t mean that you are a bad person. (See #11 & #12.)
- Having opposable thumbs is fun and highly advantageous.
- Being determined is rewarding.
Why I feel so accomplished after assembling a miniature foosball table all by myself is a bit of mystery to me. And a bit comical. I think it must have more to do with “finishing something” with only a set of directions and my wits than it does with conquering assembly with an Allen wrench – my new favorite tool, by the way.
I also feel like its assembly honored my loved one who gave it to me. I must write her a note and thank her for the foosball fun. Thanks, AW!
The little lesson from this: I can slow down and manage the steps required to meet my end goals. Life isn’t all about speed. I think I am intimidated by, and sometimes disappointed in, my own lack of follow-through at times. I might speed across the finish line, but how many washers, screws, and essential pieces do I deem unnecessary and then discard or lose along the way?
As I was cleaning up my post-assembly mess, I tossed the Allen wrench into the Rubbermaid catch-all under the laundry room sink. I paused. And fished it back out. It is now on my desk to serve as a reminder that I’ve got this. I can survive taking the time to read directions, even if it makes my stomach wrench (no pun intended.)
Am I happy with the results of my efforts? Yes. Did I learn something? Very much yes. The Boxes of the Unsorted in my living room still beckon to me. I am now wondering what other lessons await my due diligence. I will tuck my Allen wrench talisman into my back pocket for luck and will persevere until all is sorted and stored. Life is good. I’ve got this!