When the wife comes to you one fine day and says, “dear, I think we need a new closet for the bedroom”, the heart surges in joy. Immediate thoughts of grabbing the coat and rushing off on a mission to the nearest DIY center enters the mind before realization dawns that first must come a shower and then work. Thursday today, Saturday would be best! A whole day of fun and joy to look forwards to! “Yes dear”, you say casually, “I will get the car out on Saturday and look for something nice”.
What a shame it was not Saturday when she had told you this. That would have meant immediate action. But this way you have two whole days to plan and work on OPERATION CLOSET. Two days to think about where to search for the perfect piece in all of the hundreds of shops surrounding your town. Two whole days to dream about buying this closet, taking it back home and assembling it and afterwards proudly displaying the finished product to a proud and satisfied Wife.
Saturday seems ever so far away. Sleep becomes impossible as the day draws near and the happy thoughts of OPERATION CLOSET, the fun and the happiness that goes with building ones own furniture is soon to become reality. Ah, come on and hurry up Saturday!
Eventually the day arrives and out of bed you jump, eager to be on the road and out on the Search. Eager to return with your purchase and to be deeply involved in its construction, eager to be surrounded by the endless panels and screws and eager to see a creation come to life. Yep, it is Saturday and “happy” day. The Wife’s attempt to ruin all by suggesting that you buy an already assembled closet and using a past occasion as reason for this (when you had assembled the Kitchen Dining Table and stuck a screwdriver through your foot) are ignored and you stick by your guns. A DIY closet must be purchased as a DIY closet can fit in the car and is cheaper; a pre-assembled closet would cost more and have to be brought back home by a delivery company. “NO, DIY it will be”, you say with authority and stamp out the house on the start of your mission before the wife can lay other obstacles in your path.
As you get into the car the Wife shouts after you, “I’ll be out all day, try and get it all finished before my parents come this evening will you”?
Freedom and on the road at last. After much searching around the various shops and comparing prices you soon have the perfect unit balanced across the back of the car and are winging your way back home. Part one complete. Part two coming up.
Back at the house you gleefully bring the whole box of panels and associated bits into the bedroom, having previously made a space for it and removed the old closet out of harms way. So you have space and the various sections to be made into something usable. All that is required now are some tools and a cup of coffee. Downstairs for the toolbox, into the kitchen for the hot cup of coffee and back upstairs it is. NB: Must clean up the coffee spill on the stair carpet before the family return.
Okay, everything is in order, coffee at hand and you are all alone to enjoy life at its best. First of all you sit there just soaking up the atmosphere and considering changing jobs to that of a Test Engineer at a furniture factory, then you make your first move of laying out the essential tools in a neat row along the floor by the door. A screwdriver, a sharp knife, a hammer, a tape measure and another screwdriver all placed neatly and ready for use. Next you use the sharp knife to open up the box and smile at the sight of all that wood! Laying out the panels in order you slowly empty the box until nothing is left, sitting back and grinning from ear to ear at the sight around you, now that phase two has been completed.
But wait! Something is missing! You search around desperately for the assembly diagram, the one that should have been stuck inside the box, under the wood or in the bag of hinges and screws. It must be somewhere and you search again, looking in the car, under the wood, in the box and in the kitchen – anywhere that it might be. Calm down, you tell yourself, phone the company ask them if they have a new one or spare one or maybe it fell out at the shop. After a few phone calls’ you sit back in total despair. The lady at the shop had kindly said “have you looked in the box”? And the lady at the factory condescendingly said, “oh no, we don’t include diagrams with our latest range”.
NO DIAGRAM? What do you mean NO DIAGRAM?
All is not that bad. Gaining second wind and laughing at yourself for the panic you go back upstairs convincing yourself that it can not be that difficult. A couple of shelves, a back and a front and some sides’ that is all there is to building this up. What could be easier than that? You are now convinced that all will be easy and back to work you go with gusto and renewed energy! All you have to do is to arrange the separate pieces into order of place and work from there. Find the back, the bottom and two sides and then screw them together. After that, well, just fit the doors and “bobs your uncle”.
Seven hours it takes you. Seven hours of head scratching, sweating nervousness that the wife should return early and of seriously considering running out and buying a pre-assembled unit. Seven hours of puzzlement about why no panels are of the same size, why the floor is three inches shorter than the top and why there are not enough screws for the job. Seven hours of panic and heartburn as you precariously balance on one foot, holding one side up with your elbow and attempting to get a screw into place with your mouth. Seven hours of trying to figure out how you managed to get the door handles inside instead of out and why you had to open the left door before the right door would open.
The first hour of all of this was spent trying to work out which piece was the floor. Deciding that it was the oblong section that had screw holes in it you had suitably attached it to what you thought was the right side. Whilst trying to balance on the washing basket and fix what you thought was the top onto what you thought was the side, you fell off seriously damaging your ankle and cutting your finger on the knife that had been lying beside the door. It was whilst looking upwards and deciding whether to nurse your ankle or suck on your bleeding finger that you noticed that the top was not the top after all. And that the bottom was actually an internal shelf and that the side that you had made so many holes in was after all, the door.
It was after seven hours that you managed to assemble a closet into some sort of order. One door did have a few extra holes in it and the other door did have a rather large coffee stain in the middle but it was together. Oh, and the back did look a mess as in a temper you had accidentally punched a hole through the thin plywood and nailed it crooked to the closet frame. The door handles that you had broken whilst removing them from the inside of the doors to the outside looked okay once taped together and the mirror that you had cracked was not needed anyway – that you had removed outside to the garage never to be talked about again.
Tools away, cup back in the sink, plaster on the finger and a soaking hot bath later and you are sitting comfortably with a newspaper in front of the television. Secretly swearing to yourself that you would never ever do such a thing again. Pre-assembled furniture all the way from now on you say to yourself. The wife on her return complains about the coffee stain on the stairs, makes some comment about the closet looking like a twenty year-old disaster and then goes to make dinner. Operation Closet complete and behind you!
SIX MONTHS LATER
One fine day, there you are eating your cereal in the morning and the wife comes along and says, “we need a new dresser in the spare room”. Your heart jumps and without falter you say “yes dear, I will get the car out on Saturday and look for something nice”.
PART TWO: OPERATION DRESSER – Coming Soon!
Ieuan Dolby, from Scotland is an Engineering Officer in the Merchant Navy. He has been travelling the world for 15yrs on an endless tour of cultural diversification. Currently based in Singapore he writes various articles for magazines and newspapers and is working on a marine glossary.