I am starting to rethink my treatment of SEABEES. I mean, in the past I may have…how shall I say…trivialized the complexity of their jobs. You can’t blame me. I was a weather guy. Now THAT was a tough job. I had to know physics. SEABEES only have to know how to swing a hammer, or maybe drive a bulldozer.
But this week I had my first glimpse of what they have to go through. We bought a backyard play set, and I was going to put it together.
Given the basic skill level of your average home owner, I figured it would be a piece of cake. At least SEABEES had to pass the ASVAB at some point. Normal everyday civilians – the ones with plastic swing sets in their yards – don’t have any standards at all. Plus, it came in six boxes that easily fit in the back of my SUV. I would be done before my daughter woke up from her nap.
Then I opened the boxes.
Each piece of wood had been carefully packaged for maximum space utilization. I was looking at a giant Rubik’s cube. Once I started moving stuff around, there was no way to put it all back together. What kind of sick, sadistic freak would do something like that? I did a rough count of the parts, and estimated the number at around a billion.
My friends in the construction corps will probably tell you that the number of bolts and screws are a pretty good indication of how much work you face. Here are the screws and bolts:
Thirty-seven bags of hardware, and each one was different.
At some point I realized my daughter would wake up before I was finished.
Undaunted, I dove in – starting with STEP ONE. (FYI, the instruction manual is 3/4 of an inch thick. This should have been my first clue.) I figured I could knock out a few steps before dinner.
AFTER dinner I put the finishing touches on STEP ONE, and here it is:
After six hours of work (the first of fifty-one steps) I had built a ladder. This is what it is supposed to look like when it is finished. The part that has been completed is in red.
Experience has a way of teaching a person to be humble, and it is with great humility that I have learned a couple of valuable lessons.
First, SEABEES have a tough job, and no matter how hard a home project is, at least no one is shooting at me.
And second, I need to include a driveway with this play set, since my four-year-old daughter will be old enough to drive by the time I am finished.