Some Assembly Required

Reader Contribution by Heidi Hunt

About 15 years ago, when my husband and I separated, I understood that all of the tasks in the job jar would now fall upon my shoulders (or the shoulders of a sympathetic neighbor or friend!). I knew the lawnmower was on its last legs, but figured it might make it through one more season — wrong!

So, off I went to Sears, a company with a known brand and repair center, to buy a lawn mower. I found a simple, no-frills model and asked the salesman if there was assembly required. He assured me there was not — just loosen the nuts holding the handle, put it in the correct position and retighten the nuts. OK, I was ready to go. I opened the box and … you know what comes next … you can feel it! Parts, many parts. And instructions. The kind that make you crazy: Locate the bracket attached to the engine housing. With a socket wrench (I need one of those?) hold the gizmo in one hand, the bolt in the other, and tighten the nut … well you get the picture.

But I was determined not to ask for help. It wasn’t as if I had to build the engine from scratch — just attach a few pieces and hope it all worked. Finally, I had all four wheels on, right side out, and the handle and pull-cord firmly attached. The mower came with a little bottle of oil so I wouldn’t forget to add it. I poured it into the correct port, filled the gas tank, pulled the cord … and it started — second pull! Wow! I felt so accomplished and self reliant.

This turned out to be my most difficult-to-assemble purchase. But I survived the ordeal, and it gave me confidence that in the future, I would be able to decipher the strangely translated instructions that came with my next motorized appliance. Midnight, December 24th frequently finds us under the tree, or in the basement or garage, struggling to put Part A into Part B on the perfect holiday gift. What has been your most challenging “some-assembly-required” gift? Tell us your tale of frustration and success in the comments section, below.