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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Adventures In Chair Assembly

At work on Tuesday, the 757 engineers received new desk chairs. Unassembled.

(In case you're wondering why I didn't get a new chair, it's because I'm no longer part of 757 Engineering. I'm now in Maintenance Programs and under a different manager.)

My first thought upon seeing this unassembled chairs is that this should be right up an engineer's alley. Most of them have hobbies that seem to involve putting things together--or taking things apart and then putting them back together. Apparently, chairs are another story.

Instructions? We don't need no stinking instructions! Then he turns to me and asks what he should do first. I said I think you'd start by putting the casters in the base. It makes sense, right? Start at the bottom? So he opens the plastic bag with the casters and hands me the instructions. A quick glance at the paper said I was right, but even after asking me do you think that's what the engineer did? Um, no.

While I'm perusing the directions, he decides to insert the pneumatic cylinder into the seat bottom. The reason I know it was the pneumatic cylinder is that's what it was called in step 2. I would have just called it the tube thing. ;-)

When I glanced up and saw what he was doing, I was like, dude, that's step 2 and you're putting the cylinder in the wrong place anyway. I showed him Figure 1.

At his objection to having to follow the instructions, I said, "I'm glad I'm not going to be sitting in that chair." He reconsidered doing things his way and decided to give the manufacturer's process a chance.

At this point, one of the tech writers came in and sat down. All our tech writers are former airplane mechanics, so I figured they didn't need my presence. While the two of them were working to install the casters, I excused myself for a restroom run. When I came back, the casters were in the base and the pneumatic cylinder had been installed correctly. Mostly. The men had decided to remove the plastic sheath. I was told I never should have left them on their own. Hmm.

I spent the rest of the assembly process reading directions aloud. And rereading them. And holding out the paper and pointing to the diagrams.

The final outcome? Chair was assembled, but the tilt feature won't work. All in all, I thought we did well. I'm still kind of amazed, though, that an engineer and a former mechanic needed me to help them get that chair together.