Saturday, December 3, 2011

Doing Hard Things

Our queen futon arrived in a box. I hate furniture that comes in a box because it is never magical. It doesn't put itself together, and invariably the instructions that come with it are written in Chinese. Now in this case, they were in English as well, but they may have just as well been only in Chinese. Arvo was working so it was up to me to put the futon together all by myself.

I laid out all the pieces and carefully smoothed out the 6 pages of instructions. Yes, 6 pages. There were at least 50 screws and bolts. That meant 50 places where my ineptitude could result in the giant futon snapping closed like crocodile teeth upon an unsuspecting prey. The prey would likely be a loved one, as the futon was going to be the couch/slash extra bed in Asherel's bedroom. My twenty five year old
6 '4" son would no longer have to climb to the top twin size bunk bed he had slept in since he was 5. If I could somehow manage to erect this behemoth, he would be on a comfy queen futon. Now with a newly married son and wife coming home for Christmas, Anders had to sleep somewhere other than Matt's room when he arrived for a week. Asherel would relinquish her room to Anders and she would have her choice of closets or sunroom to sack out in. Thus the need for a bed that my grown eldest son could comfortably sleep in. Futon, be very scared. I am ready to attack.

I surveyed the piles on the floor. Step one. Attach left spring assembly to left wood arm. Note: be sure left spring attached to left side or may result in limb dismemberment in middle of night. 
Did it really say that? I blinked. No, that was just the mirage created by my mind that was concerned about the 50 or so steps and hundred pieces in a pile around me that would somehow miraculously become a futon.
Within less than 5 steps, I had reached an impasse. The screw holes did not line up with the screws and it was only by sheer force that Arvo was finally able to force them in place. Arvo was not totally pleased to be interrupted from his work, but I could not do this step alone. I just didn't have the strength to pierce metal barehanded like I used to.

On to step 6.
Two hours had transpired now. I ached all over, and tendinitis was creeping into my wrists. The frame was almost complete.

As hour three loomed, there was just one more step.
Step 1024: take two double L strips and gently force them into the two predrilled holes.
There were no illustrations of this step, no clues as to where the two predrilled holes were, and no indication of how to do this step. After a half hour of searching, I decided the holes they meant were in the center between the seat and the back. But the metal L was 5 inches long, and the gap between the holes when the futon was flat would be more like 8 inches. No way.

I called the customer assistance number listed on the instruction sheet, noting that below the customer assistance number was a toll free suicide prevention number.
"Hello, I have a problem assembling the queen futon you sent," I said.
"Sure dudette, what can I do to alter your universe?" said a decidedly youngish voice. He may have used different words but I could tell this was an 18 year old smoking dope in a warehouse somewhere.
"Well, I have put together the futon and it seems to work except for the last step."
"Cool! That is a requestion I can certainly help you with. I'm just chillaxin' here and my whole reason for beason is to help you, dudette."
"Well thanks, that is kind of you. So, back to the last step. Do you know that there is no diagram or illustration to help with it?"
"No! That is grody to the max."
"So maybe you could help me?"
"Absocertainly! First let me get a dig on what we are dealing with.. What is a futon?"
"You know, the couch that you can lie back and it becomes a bed."
"No dippindoodling?! That is totally rad!"
"Well yes, that last piece anyway doesn't seem to fit. It is only 5 inches long and the gap it has to span is 8 inches."
"Yeh, I hear you. When we put that sucker together here in the warehouse it takes three of us."
"Well are you sure it is the right piece?"
"Oh you don't know how many check your totem calls I get on this problemtunity."
"So what do I do? I don't have three strong young men to help me."
"Hmmm. You have to force it.  Let me cogitate on this."
I pictured smoke coming out of his ears.
"Ok, listen, do you have dynamite?"
"Well then next best thing is just forget this step. Is anyone heavy sleeping on the futon?"
"Oh, then that's not cool. Believe me, it will fit. I get someone to squeeze the seatback and seat frame together while I force that sucker in. It is made so that once it is in, it is never coming out."
"Thank you for your help. I will go see if I have any dynamite."
"Yeh, that is really the best idea.  Great chattin it up with you."
"Thanks...uh....have a nice day."

I called Arvo over and showed him the problem. Later, I went into the room to see he had wrapped a ratchet strap around the seat and back and was racheting the metal together. Then he rammed the small piece in the holes and unleashed the ratchet.
"Might want to stand back, " he said.
The piece remained in place, the futon opened and closed successfully, and I decided to hang up on the suicide prevention call.

Life is not easy.  God doesn't seem interested in easy. He seems to be interested in how we respond to hard.
If life was easy, we might not recognize the need for anyone or anything other than ourselves. I think there is a lot to be said for being unable to do things on our own.

Moses, guided by God, sent his army into battle and told them that when he raised his arms, the battle would turn in favor of the Israelites. When he became tired and his arms dropped, the battle turned against them. So friends came and supported his arms. We cannot save ourselves. The path is laid out by God and He sends others to keep us on it. When our arms are too weary from assembling the day to day struggles of life, God sends friends to support us. We are never asked to go it alone.
So totally tubular, dude.

Exodus 17: 9-13
9 Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”
 10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

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