Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Red China - Red Chairs - Red Face

I've finally figured out what the acronym "M.A.D.E." IN CHINA actually stands for...

Oh sure, for years I, like many people, thought it was just the location of where items were manufactured...NOT SO!

After taking 2 days to assemble 4 red bar stools (that came half assembled so should have taken 20 minutes tops), I have a sore knee, bruised thumbs and clear insight into the real meaning of those letters...

M.A.D.E. actually stands for Manufactured Atrociously by Deranged Engineers.

Each box held two half-assembled theory, anyway.

Now don't think I hate engineers - I gave birth to one - well, actually she wasn't an engineer at first but thinking back she was awfully good with Duplo...hmmm.

And my best friend is an engineer (and she's half Chinese...more...hmmm).

But those other engineers?

The ones who painstakingly craft bar stools where the bolt-holes almost...but never...actually line up so you can screw them in without using super-human force and their stupid Allen wrench?

It's them I hate.

Case in point: consider that hole-bolt alignment issue. At first I was convinced it was simply a matter of shoddy workmanship - perhaps my stools were drilled on a late Friday afternoon after a liquid lunch in good old Gansu Province.

But lets do the math...2 bolts in each leg x 4 legs per stool x 4 stools = 87 chances to accidentally line up ONE hole! At least the way I drill.

But no, with the same level of attention to detail that produced the 8000 Qin Shi Huang Terracotta Warriors, EVERY hole was slightly off so that I had to use the included Allen wrench (and my super-human strength).

It's a plot I tell you. A carefully crafted plot. Nothing overlooked in its execution.

Here's another example: At first I felt lucky that they had included the Allen wrench. After all, it would save me from digging through my tool box to locate one that fit.

Mind you, my Allen wrenches are actually long enough that I can get some real leverage.

This Allen wrench had been cleverly sawed off at just the right length to insure that not a single extra pound per square inch of torque could be applied.  Perfection I tell you...and extreme attention to detail.

I also had to use my super-human strength to detach the hardware bags from the seat bottoms.
Did I mention that all the bolts, screws, washers and wrench arrived double wrapped in a plastic bag stapled to the bottom of the seat?

I was impressed with the double bagging - particularly when I realized that the bolts had been soaked in oil. The plastic bags were no doubt intended to make sure that none of the oil stained the lovely red Ultrasuede during transit...of course, the same cannot be said for my greasy fingers during assembly.

Note to self: invite some small children over to blame for oily fingerprints.

The only thing in the tool bag not covered with oil was the doll-sized bottle of glue...scratch that, it's hard to picture doll-sized" these days...just imagine a bottle of glue you could actually take on a commercial flight - all three drops of it.

Notice the size of the "safe for air travel" glue bottle.

48 hours later, I had them assembled...and I was exhausted but proud of myself for tightening every last bolt no doubt beyond the manufacturers' recommended tightness.

Sure they were a little wobbly but with all those misaligned boltholes that's hardly surprising.

I proudly placed them at the kitchen desk and at the island.

And then Dave saw them. He didn't say anything about the wobble specifically he just held out his hand for the Allen wrench. I slapped it smartly in his palm and smiled smugly knowing those bolts were as tight as they could ever be.

Until Dave tightened them.

Dave in action correcting my assembly.

I was a little red-faced to discover that my super-human strength is more like ordinary-middle-aged-mum strength...but I blame the sawed off Allen wrench. With the right tool, I could have...

Well, at least they don't wobble anymore. I do love the color. They're super comfy and my bruised fingers are soooo happy it's done.

They are nice stools.

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