Saturday, March 6, 2021


I seldom have to buy new furniture, which is fortunate since my options are minimal. There are a couple of small furniture stores in town, and - of course - there's the Internet. But having furniture delivered to my Dream House (sarcastic *smile*) out here in the woods is such an (unpleasant) ordeal that I try to avoid it.

So, my only alternative is to buy items at Walmart that will (hopefully) fit in my car (I sure as heck miss my Texas pickup truck). 

I recently bought a small writing desk for my bedroom and a much-needed bookcase (not at the same time).
Both items are typical Walmart "Mainstays" creations that have to be assembled. 

The first problem was trying to cram the 75 pound bookcase box into my Toyota.

The second problem was having to drag the 75 pound bookcase box through thick, oozy mud up the slippery hill to my back door. By the time I got to the back porch I was drenched in rain, covered with mud, and on the threshold of cardiac arrest.

The bookcase box was wet, ripped, and dirty but the heavy contents were intact.

Two days later - after I dried out, caught my breath, and managed to finally lower my blood pressure -  I was ready to tackle the bookcase.

A label on the box revealed that the bookcase was "Made in China and Designed in the U.S.A." if this would be of some bizarre reassurance.

The enclosed instructions assured me that the bookcase could be assembled by one person, within the span of one hour.
It took twenty minutes to get all the pieces out of the tight, damp box.

I began to lose faith when it took over an hour for me just to read the instructions and fully absorb the contents.

As I laid on the floor in the haphazard midst of styrofoam, particle boards, and assorted hardware, I became painfully aware of my waning age, bad back, agonizing hip, arthritic knee, and myopic eyes.

As I slowly (not to mention painfully) began assembly - I suddenly realized that the tiny room wasn't going to easily accommodate the ever-expanding bookcase, along with me and two curious cats.

I was compelled to crawl into the midst of the bookcase in order to continue - - and in time (nourished by my fertile imagination) it seemed like I was assembling my own coffin. There was no discernible way out.

My hands were too cramped to hold the allen wrench, my legs and feet were cramping, and pain was infiltrating parts of my body that I never knew I had.

My only consolation was that my cell phone was nearby. I would be able to call 911 and request someone to come with the Jaws of Life to extract me from the bookcase.

It took an agonizing effort for me to finally crawl out, get on my feet, and gain equilibrium.
I only had one more panel to assemble but couldn't do it because I misplaced (lost) a cam bolt.

I'm reluctant to abbreviate this breathtakingly interesting story, but I will.

I found the missing cam bolt the next day....and miraculously completed the bookcase.
Whoever said that this Mainstays Monstrosity could be assembled in one hour by one person was either lying, crazy, or completely unfamiliar with the process.

I refuse to believe that I'm hopelessly inept.

Here are some enthralling photos from the assembly line.

Bosco, surveying the situation

A crappy photo of the end result. It's larger than expected. I'm 6' 1" and it's taller than me.



  1. What an ordeal! I strongly suspect the people who wrote those instructions are the same ones who claimed (my) cake prep time was 15 minutes. Were you to make a You Tube video series, "Truth in Advertising" I predict it would be a hit.

  2. I love the way Bosco is posed in the middle of the construction project. Where was his construction cat hard hat? I'm glad that you found the cam bolt so you could finish the bookcase. It looks nice and will be great for books and/or decorative items.

    I think they are fibbing about the one person finishing the bookshelf in 1 hour. Maybe they timed an Amish professional woodworker and furniture maker. Any shelves and items that are made with that chip wood and glue with wood veneer glued on are so ungodly heavy for each piece, it is like you are suddenly working on another planet where the gravity makes everything 10 times heavier, including one's own body when one tries to stand up again.

    I am glad you (and Bosco) got 'er done.

  3. WOW! That is one BIG bookcase alright! It is always nice to know that our cats are supervising!

  4. I am laughing so hard, not at your physical limitations but at your description of the whole process. You have a gift of making lemonade out of lemons and I really love that.
    As an aside, the bookcase looks great.

  5. I HATE assembling things. Now that I’m Bill’s full time caregiver I’ve had to assemble quite a few lovely things including a portable commode. Your bookcase looks great. I’ll have to send you more books to fill it up.

  6. We have bought many furniture pieces from Ikea in the past, including BR sets, and all required assembly.but unlike your ordeal, Jon, these were a bit easier and made of actual wood. Like yourself, I can be quite frustrated by the process. Glad you and the bookcase survived.

  7. that was some project. what a chore. i swore you were going to be stuck inside it, at one point in your narrative. however the end result was worth all the struggle. looks wonderful. really nice. you'll have to show us again after you fill it. my desk here is still undone because the manufacturer forgot to enclose the parts that made up the drawers. so i'm using it as is without them. things piled up sky high.

  8. I bought 2 of those big bookcases. Good grief, I agree with you, they are a pain to put together. I recently bought a mini crib for my daycare baby. Oh goodness, what an ordeal that was to put together, I had to take part of it apart to add in the piece I missed the first time..haha! Always nice to get them done though. Wendy

  9. Well done,Jon! That's an ambitious project and you nailed it...I mean screwed it together with an allen-wrench --one of humanity's cruelest tools. You did good.


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