There are three things you should know about my day:

1) It’s Friday.

2) I got to go into work late.

3) While at work, I had to assemble a piece of furniture.

The first is universal, the second is lucky, and the third is capable of canceling out the pleasure of the other two. Oh, the project started out just fine, as all bad ideas do. I sliced open the box, pulled everything out, and got cozy on the floor with all the necessary ingredients: a rubber mallet, a screwdriver, and the recently unboxed parts — including the deceptively labeled ‘Assembly Instructions’. Which is where the project hit the skids. Because as it turns out a job illustrating for this particular company does not require an actual working knowledge of basic drawing skills. My friend Christa has freshman art students who can draw better diagrams than these. Let’s take the ‘cord management system’, for example. Despite the fancy name, which must have required at least mild ingenuity on the part of the writers, the illustrators did not deem it necessary to actually label it on the assembly diagram, which is just not fair. This left me to guess, and guessing + me + hardware = trouble. Which is why it took me over an hour and assistance from a friend with an honest-to-God engineering degree to finally get the thing fully built. Even he was bemused by a few of the directives, so I finally ended up skipping several of the more confusing ones. So far the cart is still standing and the world hasn’t crashed to a halt, so I think I’m safe.

Okay, I know I’ve been known to hyperbolize on occasion and I sense that you think I’m doing so now, but I assure you I’m not. And so, for your viewing pleasure, I’ve scanned step one. There are seven more where that came from, but I think this one gets the point across nicely. Just click on the photo if you’d like a larger version. It still won’t make sense, but at least you can say you tried. You can even attempt to find where the elusive ‘cord management system’ is if you’re feeling ambitious.

The good news is that sharing this with you has cheered me up considerably. Indeed, now that I’ve begun to move past the irritation-at-self-and-others stage of this trauma and the cart is fully assembled, I have started to develop a little affection for these instructions — even if the illustrators did cheat. I can even appreciate the fact that no one was injured during the cart-building process.

This will never be my favorite company communique, however, despite its total lack of sense. No, that honor is reserved for the single sheet my husband pulled from a box before assembling the simple wooden magazine rack contained within. The page has resided on our refrigerator ever since: