Monday, April 02, 2007

Designing Men & Women

223 Designing Men & Women

Who dreams this stuff up? Vacuum cleaners that weigh more than the people who use them, minivan liftgates that open so high no one can reach them, gas pumps whose computerized displays are washed out by sunlight, and rooms that a huge – but have almost no useable space.

Designers of vacuums must all be former football players or sumo wrestlers. Designers of liftgates must first have done service in the NBA. Designers of gasoline pumps must be non-drivers. And the architects must surely be people who live in attic garrotes.

Either that, or they’re all champion dunces.

Mostly, it’s women who do the vacuuming. “The Little Lady,” chances are, is about 5-2 or 5-3 and weighs about 100 pounds. And chances are she’s taking some pill or other that helps prevent her aging bones from cracking. This is not someone who can easily use a 110 pound Hoover.

This is the same person who drives the minivan and needs to carry a stool around in the back so she can close the door once it’s opened.

Yes, there are lightweight vacuum cleaners. Good ones. Also, not cheap.

And you can probably attach a fishing line or a laundry line or some other string to the back door of the van and pull it down. But you’d think that after 30 years of van building and 100 years of vacuum cleaning, someone would have figured out that either they have to make a lighter machine or at least give you a weightlifting video with the present ones.

But all this pales when you find something with three of the most terroristic words in the English language on it. Three words that strike fear and horror into men and women alike. Three words that when taken separately are perfectly innocent, harmless and maybe even vacuous. They are:

“Easy to Assemble.”

There are variations, of course, like “assembles in minutes,” or “ E-Z instructions included” or “no tools required.”

But the basic three, taken as a sentence, are the template and the formula. “Easy to Assemble.”

Again, the people who write the instructions never have tried to follow them. Like the guy who designed the living room here at the Wessays Lab. Four doors on one wall, two archways on another, a staircase on a third. Where do you put the couch? Against the fourth wall. Where do you put a chair? WHAT chair.

You walk out of one of those four doors to the garage and there, awaiting you, is a tool cabinet. Well, not a tool cabinet, but the pieces of one. A frame, two shelves, two doors, two drawers and a fistful of hardware. Screws, washers, nuts, little wheels. Except nothing fits into anything else.

And there it is on the box: “Easy to Assemble.”

NOTHING is easy to assemble.

What’s worse, when you have it half finished and can’t continue, you can’t seem to figure out how to un-do what you’ve done so you can bring the thing back.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2007 WJR

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