Building goods at own risk not best of ideas

By Dick Wolfsie

Maybe I’m missing something, but I’m still at a loss to understand why people camped out in line for days for the opening of the new IKEA store in Fishers.

I just can’t seem to put the whole thing together, and maybe that’s the problem. I can’t seem to put anything together. That’s why I stopped watching Coen Brothers movies.

I like to reminisce about one of my experiences with an online purchase that was not an IKEA product. Those were the good old days, when you could wait in your house for UPS to arrive instead of sleeping in a tent on the cold concrete and missing the most recent episode of “Will and Grace.”

This story was about my one night stand. No, I didn’t have a one night stand. I bought one. I’m making this worse, aren’t I?

Let me try this: I purchased online a wood night stand that required assembly. Every piece in the kit was assigned a letter. All the grooves were numbered and there was an actual picture of all six kinds of screws and four types of nails. Seemed easy enough.

But unlike IKEA that uses primarily pictures in their instruction manuals, this pamphlet was in three languages: English, Spanish and French.

That was an immediate distraction for me, because the phrase “Avec precaution, retourner l’element sur ses chants avant,” sounds a lot sexier than “Carefully turn your unit over and onto its front edges.” The second problem was that I’m not good with tools. The directions said I needed a Phillips screwdriver. That would be equal parts vodka, orange juice and Milk of Magnesia, right?

Now, like IKEA, this manufacturer did provide a hotline number — answered, I am sure, by the very same kind of people who respond to those life-and-death turkey questions on Thanksgiving morning.

One year, I abused that phone number after downing a couple of wine coolers. I called to ask if I could take a frozen turkey in the sauna with me to defrost it. It’s hard to make those folks laugh. By the way, this furniture maker only answers the phone between 8 a.m. and midnight, so by 7:59 in the morning the lines start lighting up with frustrated customers like me who were up all night wondering who Allen is and where he put his stupid wrench.

After I got the bedside table completely assembled, I was pretty happy with myself. I must admit, however, that I am not totally confident I got it to look exactly like the photo on the box. Mary Ellen wasn’t too impressed when she got home. She thought it was the biggest birdhouse she had ever seen.

I finally did go to the newly opened IKEA facility the other day, scoping it out to see if it might make a good subject for one of my TV segments. I had an appointment with the district manager. When I walked into his office, he said something I know he’s said a thousand times, but it still made me laugh.

“Come in,” he said. “Please make a chair and have a seat.”

Television personality Dick Wolfsie writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to