It began so innocently, with a trip to Colder’s Furniture just south of Milwaukee. Our plan was to spend our store credit (which we got when we bought our new living room furniture a few months ago) on some much-needed new chairs for our kitchen table. (We bought our previous chairs from Sears Home – and if a piece of furniture can be a “lemon,” that’s exactly what those chairs were. Four very nice looking lemons that all but collapsed beneath us.) It was going to be one of those lovely shopping trips where you didn’t really need to take out your wallet except to provide I.D. – except that Colder’s didn’t have anything we liked or that would work for us. (We were especially anxious to buy chairs that would be built much more solidly than the pieces of junk we’d been living with for so long.) So we walked out without new chairs and decided to pop into American, Colder’s big rival store just to the north- and it was just our luck that we fell in love with some chairs there were the right look and the right price. There was “some assembly required” but that didn’t seem like too big a deal. So out came the wallet after all, and not just for I.D. – but it seemed like a very good idea…
….a very good idea, that is, until we opened up the box yesterday afternoon and discovered that it would have been more accurate to say “all assembly required” or “complete assembly required.” Nothing was assembled. Every single piece had to be put together. We hadn’t bought four chairs. We had bought four model airplanes shaped like chairs. And what was even more maddening and frustrating was that the directions consisted of a few rather vague diagrams- not a single word of explanation- plus there was nothing at all to indicate how the actual seat was to be fastened to the frame. (I may not be the handiest guy around, but I do know that the seat is one of the more crucial parts of a chair.)
There were a few moments there, as we sat with chair parts, washers, bolts, screws, and instructions around us that we very seriously considered taking these back to American and telling them that we were interested in buying chairs- not a box of fragments which could be assembled into chairs. It’s not that it would have been impossible. My wife is actually pretty amazing when it comes to such projects, but the thought of her taking all that time to do this (I would have been about as much help as Bobbi and Ellie would be, so this would have pretty much been a solo venture on her part.) But then I thought of three words which would solve everything. . . Nic . . . Sluss . . . Rodionov. Nic was a voice student of mine at Carthage and still studies with me when our lives allow it – and he’s also one of the handiest guys we know who also seems to get a really big charge out of helping people out of jams. And best of all, he prefers Voice Lessons to Cash in such transactions. And since I love teaching voice lessons to Nic and loathe the idea of assembling furniture, this seemed like the great win/win scenario of all time. So this afternoon, Nic – or maybe I should refer to him as Saint Nic from now on – came armed with power tools of every shape and size and assembled our four chairs with amazing ease. And towards the end of the undertaking, when another set of hands was necessary, another former student- Jamie Wilson- walked in the door. So Kathy and I have four beautiful new chairs around our kitchen table- and the only sweat we expended was in opening up the box.
Life is very very very very very good. . . especially when you can count Nic Sluss-Rodionov among your friends.
pictured above: Santa’s Elves putting the finishing touches on the chairs. Jamie is in blue- Nic is in white.