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Building Coffee Tables & Solid Foundations

When my roommate and I moved into our two bedroom apartment last April, I felt like I was in a constant state of building and boxes. The first couple nights I slept on a mattress on the ground and the first couple weeks, worked remotely from said mattress and an upside Target box desk.

Over the course of the next couple weeks, I felt like we spent every evening assembling bedframes and desks and kitchen shelves. Perhaps that’s why, on one particularly tired evening, when I realized I’d misassembled the coffee table, I was ready to leave it as is.

You see, we’d gone back and forth on this coffee table for hours. Online, there was a cheap basic coffee table. And then there was a coffee table that cost just a fraction more but had a moveable part that could turn the table into a higher desk with bonus storage inside.

In this time of broker’s fees, security deposits, and frantic furniture shopping, we were back and forth on whether the nicer table was worth the extra money. Ultimately, we decided it was and ultimately, that moving part specifically is what I had incorrectly assembled.

My roommate came home and pitifully, I have to imagine, I was immediately seeking permission to leave it as is. Who needs to lift it into a desk anyway? I was so exhausted from, well, everything, that the thought of undoing a few screws made me want to melt into the nonexistent sofa.

Of course—after taking a second to feel sorry for myself—I put on a new playlist, and reassembled the coffee table.

I haven’t thought much about that moment until recently. Because I work fully remote, I find myself frequently working from my desk, our bar table, and yes, our coffee table. And it was in a recent moment of lifting our coffee table up to computer level height that I realized how silly it would have been to leave it misassembled.

Yes, it was still a functional coffee table. But think of how many times I’ve used it as a desk. Of course it would have been silly to not build it right. Of course it would have been foolish to leave it incorrectly when I knew it was wrong.

So, you do the right thing. Even when it’s hard. Even when you’re tired. Even when the thought of it makes you want to cry. When you know what the right thing is, you do it. No exceptions.

And some day, if you’re lucky, you’ll have a tiny moment looking back at your younger self and feel really grateful that you took the time to build things the right way.


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