Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The cam-locks are talking . . .

Wait . . . you don't know about cam-locks?  I didn't either, until a week ago.  Now I'm different.  Now, I understand.

If your house is full of beautiful antiques or you haven't recently put together any top-quality pressed board shelving units, you may have completely missed the cam-lock.  You've missed out.  Let me explain.

Should you find yourself needing that little extra corner shelf or nifty little computer desk (and you need to pretend that those pieces are made of something that was actually once part of a tree), you'll find they come in tidy and small packages.  You'll be happy as you easily slide the box from the sparkly shelves into your shopping cart and again when you deftly heave the unit from car to home.  You'll be feeling good; maybe singing something akin to "I am Woman" or "Rocky's Theme" - but that's where the moment ends.

The box will sit there, staring at you, as you go about pretending you don't see it and that you're not ignoring putting it together.  You will move along, until a sense of dread pervades, and eventually you will meet the box eye to eye.  You will remind yourself that your IQ is high enough to successfully construct this furniture, that the directions are understandable and that you can actually find the tools required to finish the job.  You will talk and you will believe.  You will assemble the needed instruments, gather your icy Coke Zero and confidently grab the instructions.

At this point, you'll want to cry, just a little bit.  You'll think of other things you could do - that maybe this is the time to clean out a closet or call a friend or return some emails.  You'll talk yourself into staying on the project.  You'll imagine what it will feel like when you're successful, how you'll brag and be the world champion of putting together particle board products.  The whole world will love you and you'll be a viral sensation.

Back at the directions, you'll first come into contact with the word cam-lock.  You'll wonder if others know about such a thing and you'll worry a bit.  You won't be put off, though.  You'll press on.  You'll look at the pretty picture of the precious little corner computer desk; keep your eye on the prize.  You'll begin to read the instructions, which will sound something like this:

Prior to assembly, make sure that you have all of the pieces needed for construction, including 8 small wooden dowels, 10 medium ribbed wooden dowels, 6 long wide wooden dowels,  9 small screws, 9 medium screws, 10 bolts, 16 cam-lock bolts, 17 cam-locks, 10 wood-look panels, etc., etc., etc.  

You'll look at the pretty picture again and you'll decide that you might not really want the furniture in your home at all.  Then you'll come back to your senses.  You'll clear your throat, straighten your posture and take a deep breath.  You'll re-read the instructions over and over and over.  You'll find that 'step 1' is actually a conglomeration of fifteen steps and that the thin-paper instruction booklet contains Steps 1-15, for a total of 225 steps.  You'll start slow and then you'll start over and then you'll start over again.  You'll be doing pretty well, and your faded confidence will puff again.  It will all be okay - okay, that is, until you get to the words cam-lock.

There will be multiple drilled holes of many different sizes on each of the particle boarded planks.  The drawings on the instruction diagrams will be a bit confusing, and each of the small wooden dowels, medium ribbed wooden dowels, long wide wooden dowels, small screws, medium screws, and cam-locks will look like it could fit into any hole.  It will be confusing.  You'll want to quit.  When the directions ask you to insert the cam-lock into the hole and tap lightly to only partially complete cam-lock system, it will be hard to determine what 'partially' means.  It will be difficult to decipher which wooden dowel goes into which drilled hole and it will be incredibly hard to imagine that the cam-lock system will ever really work.  You'll not understand about waiting until the proper step to twist the cam-lock to the right to finally tighten the system, and you will attempt to work around that; to do it your own way.  It just won't look like it will work.  You won't have hope.  You'll determine that people in a strange land, far away developed this crazy system to try to aide folks (with no handy bones in their body) in putting together furniture that looks like it's supposed to.  You'll know it won't work out, that you'll probably have to box it back up and tape the top closed and return it back to the store for a full refund.  You'll be just about to call it quits.

And then . . . you'll take a deep breath, gather your thoughts and read the instructions incredibly slowly,  intent on understanding only a small step at a time.  With each few words, you'll carefully trust and place the odd pieces exactly where the directions say.  You'll have small victories.  There will be a big mess all over the floor; but, little by little, you'll make strides.  Before long, a few of the pieces will be together and they'll actually look like the picture diagram.  There will be some more snags; some more steps that won't make any sense at all.  You'll have to slow down again.  You'll have to back up and take another few deep breaths and then re-start.  It might take a long time.  You'll finally quit saying that it won't work, and you'll just enjoy working on the project.  You'll trust that the crazy people who developed the whole thing were actually trying to help.  You'll get more of the pieces together.  Soon, it will be evident that you are actually doing it correctly.  When you twist the screwdriver to the right for the last time and feel that click, it will feel like a miracle - a true, blue spectacle - a miracle come true!  (Just threw that in for the ole' Barry Manilow fans out there.)

We have a little particle board corner in our home.  There is an awesome little shelving unit with six boxes to organize stuff close to the door.  There is a small desk (with the same shade of pressed wood, of course) which neatly holds our family computer.  Those pieces don't look much like miracles.  That's not the point.  The thing that came to me during the 'cam-bolt' sessions was that even those pesky little items of hardware were serving as a reminder to trust.  When I trusted that things would work out - when I took my time and relied on myself to get the job done - I did it!  I didn't build the Eiffel Tower, but I made sense of things I didn't think I could maneuver.  I'm just hoping I can remember to do a little more of that in the real world.

Stop.  Listen.  Breathe.  Believe.  Small steps.  Keep going.

Good stuff!

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