Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Some Assembly Required

Two years ago my friends sent me a very special birthday card. They had taken pictures of the group, each person holding up a letter, cumulatively spelling out ‘Happy Birthday’. Along with it came a sound file of them singing that traditional anthem. The email delivering it was titled ‘Some Assembly Required’. I had to unzip the file and marry the pictures to the audio file for the full effect. I loved it. It was one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten. I still have it, and look at it occasionally, when I get morose.

It is no wonder that I thought about writing this entry upon delivery of my new office chair.

Buying anything major is a challenge. Getting swindled is always a factor. People see foreigners coming and recalculate their retirement. Or at least which restaurant they will eat at that night. That is a well documented phenomenon… if you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time you surely are aware.

Buying this chair posed a new challenge. How was I going to get it home? Studying its construction on the showroom floor I could see the chair part is one solid, molded and upholstered piece. At best the lift cylinder and base might come apart.

Taking it on the bus is out. It would have been cool bringing my own seat but I think the bus driver might have frowned on it. Taxi? No… I’ve run across too many taxi drivers who do a prima donna act when asked to do something out of their comfort level.

Summer’s dad! That might be an option! He is a driver for hire and, I’m sure if I negotiate with Summer he would probably leap at the chance to help. Also, he wouldn’t let me pay him. That would make me uncomfortable, seeing as his sole income is derived from how much he drives. If I take up some of his valuable driving time, he loses money.

Why am I trying to build any suspense here? I’ve already told you I negotiated delivery!

Let’s just get on with it, shall we?

On the appointed day, I made sure to wake up at 6AM. From the phone call the day before, the delivery folks confirmed an 8AM time. I wanted to be sure I was awake and relatively presentable when they got here. NOTE: it only takes me about 10 minutes to get presentable. The rest of the time was spent waking up.

I tried many things this morning. Cleaning house: too strenuous. Fixing breakfast: not ready to eat that early. Sitting at the computer: well, I’m buying a new chair because the old chair is distinctly uncomfortable. Make corn tortillas: I’ve been meaning to try my hand in an attempt to get away from all the wheat. Turns out I’m not very good at making corn tortillas. Scrap that project.

I ended up aimlessly meandering around the house with my phone in my pocket. Vibrate/ring startled me out of my stupor – really is quite a feeling when your pants start dancing while you’re in them, half asleep. OK, yeah, sure: furniture delivery between 11 and 11:30. Meander some more.

I already had a plan on how to direct the delivery crew across campus and to my house. Simply go to the building behind mine, where the housing complex maintenance staff is. Surely I can get someone there to direct them, right? Worked like a charm. I stood outside, waving my arms when a van unfamiliar to this area pulled in.


Not sure what I was expecting. I think it was something along the lines of a completely assembled seating unit, wrapped in plastic and/or bubble wrap, which could simply be rolled into my apartment and down the hall, into the office. Sure wasn’t expecting a box carried in by 2 sweaty men, with a third asking for my signature.

The sweaty men are to be excused. It is stagnantly hot outside, and muggy as… muggy can be. I presume they either didn’t have air conditioning in their van or opted not to run it so they could roll their windows down to smoke.

Still not sure what to expect. I soon found out. Delivery took less than 2 minutes. They asked me which room to place the box in. Quickly I gestured to the first door on the left. A few more steps and there they were. While I was still signing the delivery invoice they came right back out and, in a flurry of Pidgin English and Chinese, took their leave.

The Chinese are really good about not practicing service after the sale. I’ve gotten used to it as a matter of course. When all other furniture was delivered it was simply dropped wherever there was room and I was left to wrangle it where I wanted it. Really, it is not such a bad thing. It was just kind of surprising to see the fully assembled chair in the showroom, subconsciously expect a fully assembled chair and then get a box full of chair parts that I would assemble myself.

Fortunately I am not lacking in the ‘some assembly required’ department. Remember my birthday gift of 2 years ago. And the fact that I am not lacking in the carpentry and maintenance milieus. Should just be a simple matter of following directions… which are all written in Chinese.

There are pictures. That’s a good thing.

Oh! My heavens and all my lucky stars!! Every one of my bones, muscles and sinew are thanking me for seeing fit to part with the cash to spring for this chair. Instantly I noticed the difference between sitting in the old chair and the joy of resting in the new one. It swivels! It tilts (if I unlock the mechanism)! It raises and lowers and rolls anywhere I push it! Its back is high enough to allow my head to rest on it! Every one of its sculptings – lower back, neck and even arm rests match my body perfectly. It allows me to fit so well at my desk that I can see myself playing computer games deep into the night!
OOPS!!! Make that ‘write blog entries and otherwise do productive work’ deep into the night.

In fact, I let lunch slip right on by, so did I not want to get up.

But now I’m going to have to. There is only so much one can write about getting a new chair and I’m dangerously close to overdoing it. Don’t want to be that blogger.

I’ll probably still be at my terminal hours from now. I wanted to take a nap but the apartment renovation above me continues, so noise might prevent me from snoozing. Besides I have my ‘some assembly required’ card to look at while parked in my ‘some assembly required’ chair. 

Best of all: maybe now my sciatic nerve will shut up.                

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