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Barbeques and Dirty Words

Ours wasn’t quite as bad as this one
but it was getting close

We started this summer in the knowledge that we had to replace our barbeque. It was a decision that we had managed to find excuses to put off: we were going to Paris and there was no time, we had other priorities and had no time, we didn’t like barbequing and had no time…..we would have to assemble the new one.

It was this last excuse that was the real reason.

I dread buying things that require assembly. I’m as handy as a turnip and despite having a fair number of hand and power tools, the truth is that most of them were gifts and I don’t really know what they do or are for.

Some of them are still in the original packaging and because they look so nice on my work bench, I am reluctant to unwrap them. In fact, my workbench in the garage is so pristine; I’m reluctant to mess it up by actually working on projects.

Still, we needed to replace the old barbeque and the truth is that we do like to barbeque throughout the year. Steak cooked indoors is ok but cooked on a barbeque; it is transformed into something exquisite. So off we went to the barbeque store.

They all look so lovely and readyto go in the store


We had no trouble finding a barbeque that fit our exact needs; it was standing right there on the showroom floor, calling our names from the middle of a bunch of other barbeques also on display. Even better….it was on sale.

We bought it and made arrangements to have it delivered….to the car. The store didn’t provide home delivery. Problem number one.

We have a sports car, not a truck and the barbeque box was slightly larger than the back seat and trunk of the car. Fortunately, the car has a hatch back so we drove home with the hatch pointing to Heaven and the box showing its ass to the world.

Once at home, we wrestled the box out of the car which necessitated Maggie climbing over seats and pushing the box with her feet while I struggled to pull and lift the box up over the lip of the trunk opening. Eventually we managed to get it out of the car and into the garage beside the pristine workbench.

We opened the box and took out the contents. Problem number two. There were many, many contents and they were all bits and pieces that were mostly unidentifiable as being part of the barbeque shown in the picture on the side of the box.

Page one of forty Ypu need a bloodyengineering degree for this stuff
Clearly this was going to require reading the forty-page instruction manual, which in and of itself was discouraging. I know the manual will use terms I don’t understand like phalange, gasket and screwdriver. Fortunately, the instruction manual included handy pictures of each piece properly labeled to make identification easier. Unfortunately, many of the pieces were ‘right’ and ‘left’ sides of the barbeque and as with our politics, they were hard to distinguish from each other and really didn’t get along all that well.Included with the barbeque was a handy tool to use for the assembly. It was the same size as one of those absurd toothpick-like tools you get with Ikea furniture and clearly made by Fisher-Price. We had more than fifty pieces of metal and a box of screws, nuts and bolts that the manufacturer expected us to assemble using a toy.I was already beginning to use bad language and I hadn’t even assembled anything or even hurt myself in the process yet.
I might as well have borrowed tools
from my grandson for all the good the
thingee they gave me with the
barbeque did.

I turned to page one of the assembly instructions. It told me to attach the side legs to the left side of the barbeque. The diagram was clear. There were side legs shown being screwed to the base of the barbeque. There were no legs in the box. Problem number three.

It rapidly began to appear that the manufacturer had a somewhat carefree approach to labeling and identifying parts.

It took ten minutes to correctly identify the that ‘the legs’ were actually part of a bigger piece called, ‘the ‘&%$%#@ side”; of the barbeque and they bore no resemblance to the diagram. I admit that once that had been done, they screwed to together fairly easily. (I would discover that was intended to motivate me to continue by providing me with a false sense of accomplishment).

And so it begins

Each piece was added, to this so far unrecognizable thing we were assembling, after ten minutes of looking at the bits of metal laying spread out on the garage floor and comparing each to the diagrams in the manual and then guessing which part we needed. This necessitated much discussion to arrive at a consensus as to whether or not ‘this piece’ looked like the rear support bracket or was it ‘that piece’ which looked pretty much exactly the same?

Slowly, at the speed of a glacier moving across Greenland, the thing started to come together. Within a mere two hours we had assembled the base of the barbeque and were ready to add the cooking component and lid. That was encouraging. By adding this to the base, this metal sculpture might actually start to look like the picture on the box and so, with all of the enthusiasm of cattle heading for the barn in the evening at milkin’ time, we lifted the cooking unit up and put it on the base.

Problem number four. We had assembled the base backwards.

It appears that it was actually ‘that piece’ that was the rear support bracket, not ‘this piece’. We put the top of the barbeque down. Maggie went to the other side of the house with Jasper while I practiced my navy talk with a string of words that even able bodied seamen might avoid.

Page six of forty – looks simple doesn’t it?

We disassembled the base and reassembled it over the next hour. We put the cooking component on the base and it fit, almost. Problem number five. The screw holes lined up but only if you cursed, threatened and squeezed parts together with considerable enthusiasm. Conveniently, the screw holes were located in places that were invisible to the naked eye, required laying on your back with a miner’s hat with a little light so that you could see what you were doing up under the structure and which, of course, were located in places neither my fingers nor my screwdriver fit.

That is what the Fisher-Price toy is for. You use it to get into the little nooks and crannies where nothing else will go. The space is so small, you can only turn the bolt about 1/8th of an inch with each turn so screwing in a three inch bolt takes about twenty minutes and eleven dirty words.

Eventually the base and the cooking unit were united and standing before us was most of a barbeque. All that remained was putting on the doors to the lower cabinet, attaching the side table to the left of the barbeque and the side burner to the right of the barbeque. How simple is that!

Not simple at all as it turned out.

What could possibly go wrong here? You mean
besides everything?

The side table had pre-drilled holes that slid over four pre-attached bolts on the side of the barbeque. There was nothing in the instruction manual that suggested that so we spent twenty minutes trying to find the right bolts in the hardware package that came with the bloody thing. Once we realized that they were already attached to the barbeque and simply had to be loosened, we began the fifteen minute struggle to line up the holes in the table with the bolts already on the barbeque.

Once the table was attached, we attached the towel rack then we disassembled the towel rack because we had neglected to slide the utensil rings onto the rack before attaching it to the side table. While reattaching the towel rack, the entire side table fell off the barbeque. Fortunately, I was lying under the barbeque at the time so the heavy cast iron side table landed on me and wasn’t damaged.

Clearly it was time for a short break for a cigarette, a drink and a few more dirty words. Maggie left the premises to give me some quiet time and test my vocabulary.

Renewed by our break, we quickly reattached the side table and turned our attention to attaching the side burner on the other side of the barbeque. This was a little more complex than just attaching the table because there were gas hook up things (I don’t believe gas ‘hook up things’ are the actual part names but I have already forgotten what they’re called). Fortunately, there was no towel rack to be attached.

It only took three attempts at attaching, removing and reattaching the side burner to get it right and that only took fifty-five minutes, three cigarettes and many more dirty words.

I figured we were done. I was wrong.

I had parts left over; parts I couldn’t identify and which didn’t seem to match any part of the picture on the box. Clearly they were internal parts and while I am not an engineer, even I know that internal parts are fairly important. Just ask a surgeon who hates having parts left over after closing up a patient’s incision.

The way it is supposed to look and almost does.

We quit. I had run out of patience and dirty word vocabulary. We had dinner and after some serious meditation….or was it medication….went to bed.

I woke up late on Sunday morning, had an argument with someone on Twitter before my first coffee and then after my shower, went out to finish the barbeque. I was motivated. I was determined. I was ready!

Two hours later, I was less motivated but almost done. I still hadn’t figured out what the silver plastic disk was for and had no clue how to attach the grease cup. I wasn’t overly worried about the three bolts I had left. I figured I would find out what they were for at some point after I started using the barbeque and something fell off.

Now I had to test the barbeque for leaks. Oh yay! They sell me a barbeque but put all of the responsibility for whether or not it blows up when we first light it up on me. No pressure there.

Nothing like the fear of blowing yourself
up to keep you focused
It’s a fairly sophisticated system used to test leaks. You mix equal parts of dish soap and water (neither of which is provided) and then after turning on the gas, spread your liquid mixture around the openings to see if it bubbles. My mixture was bubbling before I put it on the barbeque so I wasn’t overly confident I was going to learn anything of value. I didn’t see anything that looked like a leak so announced that I was going to fire ‘er up.
Maggie asked me to wait a minute and went in the house only to reemerge wearing a hard hat, safety goggles, rubber gloves and carrying not one but two fire extinguishers. For good measure, she had Jasper sitting beside her with the garden hose between his teeth. That kind of support and confidence always touches me deeply. I’m nothing if not sentimental.
For good measure, she and Jasper moved to the other side of the yard and stood behind a tree and then called out, “Ready.”
And it worked. The built-in electric starter worked. The burners worked. Even the lid worked. I had assembled and it felt good.
Why does a rotisserie which is basically a stick need
such complex assembly instructions?

All that was left to do was to assemble the rotisserie. “A piece of cake”, I thought. I thought wrong.

Basically, the rotisserie is nothing more than a steel stick that has a handle on one end and motor on the other. It should assemble in a couple of minutes. It took forty-five, most of which was getting the mounting brackets attached to the correct side and at the correct height on the barbeque in order to be able to close the lid.

The rotisserie came with a handy extender piece (these guys think of everything) but I didn’t need it. The original stick was sufficient in length. Unfortunately, the handle wouldn’t attach to the original stick, only the extender so we ended up attaching the extender and now have a rotisserie that is about a foot and half longer than we need. I suggested we could put extra chickens on it and as one chicken got done, just slide the next one down the stick to be rotisseried.

Mine didn’t look quite this pretty
We actually did barbeque a chicken tonight and it was pretty good although not as pretty as the one in the picture.
We started assembly of the barbeque on Saturday at 1:30 in the afternoon and worked on it until dark. We started again Sunday morning around 10:30 and worked on it until 2:00. We finally started cooking on it that evening at 6:30. It only took the better part of nine hours to assemble the bloody thing and one question kept reemerging.
Why do we do this to ourselves?

We buy stuff and pay good money for it only to have to build it ourselves. If I wanted to learn to be a craftsman, a mechanic or a woodworker, I’d take a course. I want to barbeque not construct. We live in a time when we can put people in space and travel great distances in remarkably short time frames. We can even operate computers that are more powerful than the computers used for the Apollo moon missions.

Why can’t we simply buy things like a barbeque that comes pre-assembled and is delivered (for free-I’m cheap) to our door? Hell, I’d even pay to have a pre-assembled barbeque delivered next time.

I’ve bought a half-dozen things in the past three months and all of them required assembly. To be honest, I’m beginning to feel like an employee of some of these companies, rather than one of their customers.


© 2012 Maggie’s Bear
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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16604534746959098352 Paddy Manning

    It’s the bbqing I don’t get but I guess that’s an Irish thing, far too much rain here to make outdoor cooking anything but penance.

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16123459288721211812 Bear

      In my country, many bbq rain or shine, winter and summer. My brother-in-law bbqs his Christmas turkey. We have never quite let go of our primitive ancestry. We’ll be hunting with bows and arrows for steak in the local supermarket next.

  • Anonymous

    I hear ya’. Which makes me wonder why all Winnipeggers are all atitter because they will soon get an IKEA store.

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16123459288721211812 Bear