Monday, June 29, 2009

Fear and Loathing of
Barbecue Grills
It was Thursday afternoon when the helicopters hovering above my head changed the headlines from "South Carolina Governor's Argentinian affair" to Michael Jacksons death. At the time I was assembling a new barbecue grill on the deck. Home Depot would assemble it for $30, but the guy at the store suggested I should do it myself to, "Know the grill better." It was a matter of saving the money rather than having "quality time" with a stove that motivated me to take the "do it yourself" challenge.

I have lived my life in the belief that instructions are for sissies. They are the course of last resort only. When all else fails, consult the directions... not the full manual, mind you, just the relevant page. This step is usually proceeded by creative uses of the "F" word.

My usual method is to look at the picture on the box, identify the parts and go for it. This generally leads to a point of absolute desperation when a part doesn't fit. If hammering and forcing doesn't work, I curse out the maker, the seller and the entire industrial manufacturing complex. It usually happens when I find out I have failed to assemble something in a specific order. Undoing good work because I missed a step requires me to throw whatever tool is at hand into the lawn. My family knows to leave the area when there is a large box delivered to the house.

This time I decided to do it by the numbers.

Page one: List of the parts. Before I can get to the actual list there is a large boxed in paragraph with the word WARNING at the top. In bold foreboding type face it tells me that if any part is not original from the box there is a danger of fire and explosion.

Page two: Assembling the parts. At the top of this page is another boxed in paragraph with the word WARNING at the top. It tells me that if the parts are not properly assembled there is an extreme danger of fire and explosion.

Page three: Assembling the burners. Another boxed in paragraph with the word WARNING at the top. If the manifold air intake is not adjusted correctly there is an extreme danger of sever burns, fire and explosion.

Page four through six: Attaching the propane tank. A boxed in paragraph with the word WARNING at the top. The gas lines and the tank must be inspected for leaks with a solution of soap and water in addition to the wields of the tank itself at least twice a year. If there is "dirt, grease or spider webs" clogging the lines there is an extreme danger of blow back, sever burns, fire and explosion.

Page seven: Lighting the grill. WARNING lite the grill in an open area by checking for leaks first, opening the top, lighting match, and then turning on the gas. If it doesn't lite immediately there is an extreme danger of flying shrapnel, blow back, sever burns, fire and explosion.

Page eight: Using the Grill. WARNING, extinguishing grease fires with water can cause scalding, blow back, flying shrapnel, flash fires and extreme danger of explosion.

By the end of the booklet only a quarter of the page contains actual instructions, most of the page is now devoted to the extremely dangerous, hazardous, risky, perilous, treacherous, unsafe, precarious, chancy, insecure nature of the very act of operating the grill.

Page nine repeats the instruction from page one only in Spanish. Of course at the top of each page is a boxed in paragraph with the word ADVERTENCIA and the admonition "extremo peligro de incendio y explosión."

It all reminds me of a joke. Parachutist jumps out of a plane. His chute tangles, he goes for his reserve but it flags in the wind. Doomed and falling fast he sees a man below coming up from the ground toward him in a hurry. Parachutist yells, "Do you know anything about Parachutes?
"No" says the man, "Do you know anything about assembling barbecue grills?"

We now have a shiny new barbecue grill ready for the traditional Forth of July cook out.... But after reading the instructions, I'm too afraid to use it. Next time I will avoid the directions. Ignorance is bliss.

As you were,

1 comment:

Roomie said...

Oh, you are so right!!!!! When you read the instructions and the listing of all the parts, in addition to my not understanding the assembly "jargon," I invariably find that there are parts "missing," and the expletives begin.....Mandy either adds to them in her own way or runs and hides and covers her ears....always let the place assemble the item and then they can be blamed if it is wrong...."that's my story and I'm sticking to it".....
Carry on,