Beware of “assembly required”

By Dosi Cotroneo

I always thought of myself as a sensible consumer who was wary of the following labels: “Made in China”, “Assembly Required”, “As Is” and “Final Sale”. A seasoned shopper, I suppose some of us just have to learn the hard way. After tuning into an episode of Martha Stewart and following her on a tour of her utilitarian, spotless, dreamy laundry room, I decided something just had to be done. Years ago, a bright idea, probably stemming from tuning into an episode of Martha Stewart and following her on a tour of her pristine, spotless, downright utilitarian mudroom, I decided to relocate the main floor laundry room into the basement, while trying to recreate the empty space into a mudroom – much like Martha Stewart’s. The only difference being, she did not have young children, teenagers, or hockey players, piling in and out of her mudroom at all hours. Utilitarian – yes. Pristine – no. The mudroom idea seemed brilliant at the time, and although it served it’s purpose, the young brood are now young adults and prefer to come in through the main entrance, hence, leaving the mudroom to look like a ghost town. What to do about the basement laundry room that sounded like such a great idea at the time?
Considering the basement is unfinished and it takes two flights of stairs to get from the bedrooms to the bowels of the laundry room, laundry day has become booty boot camp day since I find myself climbing up and down two flights of stairs with numerous baskets of dirty laundry weighing in at least 25 lbs. each. Before I know it, I find myself climbing up and down two flights of stairs with numerous baskets of clean laundry, weighing in at least 25 lbs. each.
I’m surprised I haven’t lost 25lbs in the process. The husband and carpenter son have assured me that the time has come to relocate the laundry room back into the mudroom. I have protested many a time that Martha Stewart’s laundry room is in her basement, and afterall, she is the reigning queen of laundry rooms and mudrooms in my opinion. I tried to convert the mudroom into a small office for myself, but that idea lasted only about two weeks. The fact that there are two doors – one leading into the garage and the other leading into the front hallway saw more traffic than the intersection at Bridge and Main Street. On that note, I headed over to the nearest hardware store in search of the ideal laundry room storage and organizing items, much like the ones Martha Stewart recommended. For just under $20 I found a laundry folding/sorting station on wheels that had my adrenaline pumping and dancing a laundry jig. What does it mean when one finds oneself dancing a laundry jig in the middle of the Rubbermaid aisle at one’s local hardware store? I assured myself that this could merely mean that I have joined the world of domestic goddesses, and simple things like fresh, clean, crisp, folded laundry, bring joy if not tears to my eyes.
The box of this three-tier laundry sorter/folder contraption clearly stated that assembly could be done in a snap and no tools were required. That night, after the family was
sound asleep, I decided to pull the box out from under my bed and begin the business of assembling the contraption that would change my laundry situation forever.
The first five minutes went smoothly. I had the wheels snapped on and the bottom basket came already assembled. I was thrilled to read that it would hold one full load of laundry, hot out of the dryer. The next shelf seemed to be progressing well, until I realized that one side was higher than the other. It seems I mixed up poles C with poles F.
Twenty minutes later, I decided to read the box one more time, in case I missed any fine print explaining that perhaps a degree in mechanical engineering, fluency in Mandarin, Cantonese, Finnish and Dutch would prove helpful.
By 1:00 a.m., I was watching an Oprah Show rerun and feeling extremely agitated. Nowhere in the instructions did it mention anything about Velcro. Alas, all of the stretching, pulling, and yoga poses in the world could not help my situation. Still agitated and now sweating, I tuned into MTV’s Teen Mom at 2:00 a.m. At 7:45 a.m. I awoke to the family staring down at me. Apparently I was drooling and still had pole E clenched in my right fist. Youngest son took over and within three minutes, the contraption that is going to change my laundry situation forever, was assembled. Once again, I have sworn myself off of products labeled, “Made In China”, “No Assembly
Required”, “As Is”, and “Final Sale”.