The good thing about buying stuff online is that you can usually find exactly what you are looking for at a bargain price.

The downside of this retail relationship is that what you order often ends up arriving in a box, or boxes. This is the point at which you suddenly understand why your purchase was such a deal.

It’s the three little words: Some assembly required

The key word here, of course, is some, which can mean everything from sticking a couple of doodads together to complex fabrication. I mean, how many of us have gotten stuck at Step 3 because we don’t own a welder? Who among us is familiar with such terminology as flange, mating bolt, cam, dowel, countersink and shank (which sounds like a tool you should hide under the mattress).

Besides having to deal with scores of mysterious parts, parts that don’t fit right, missing parts, parts that go together more than one way and parts that require special tools, there is also the matter of the accompanying directions. To be fair, let me just acknowledge here that I have never been good at following directions.

There are a lot of reasons for this, but probably foremost among them is having to deal with any problem involving steps makes every lobe in my brain scream “give us wine.”

These days, the directions sheet often comes in several different languages. In some cases, the English version has been translated from the language of the country in which the product originated. I once owned a Japanese vacuum cleaner that claimed to have “great wisdom.” It was a pretty smart vacuum cleaner, but I don’t know about the wisdom.

In terms of the directions being helpful, it doesn’t really make any difference which language option your choose. In fact, the first thing some people do is throw away the directions. I often do this myself, although I save any illustrations. A picture is worth a thousand directions.

Another hassle involves dealing with assemblies that call for the assistance of a second set of hands. If you run into such a situation, it is my advice to immediately abandon the project. Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to assemble something with the assistance of a spouse or any individual with whom you wish to have a future relationship. Wallpapering together is a romantic evening out compared to tackling a chest of drawers as a couple.

The anger and frustration associated with assembly can be hazardous to one’s health, so deleterious, in fact, it should be accompanied by a list of possible side effects.

Warning: Attempting to put together this light fixture may cause excessive perspiration, exhaustion, cursing, aggression, temporary blindness, shortness of breath, headaches, eye strain, heart palpitations, dizziness and loose stools. Also, for erections lasting more than four hours contact your doctor (I add this only because it is my favorite side effect and I like to work it in whenever I can).

Anyway.

The final annoyance stemming from ordering something online for which you do not have the tools, language skills or advanced engineering degree to successfully assemble, is sending it back. So you carefully repack it, lug it to Staples and pay (or not) for the return postage. Then a couple of weeks later, you check and find your account has been credited the original price minus a $15 restocking fee.

You know what, if they can charge for restocking, shouldn’t we be able to charge for labor?

Jim Shea is a lifelong Connecticut resident and journalist who believes the keys to life include the avoidance of physical labor and I-95. He can be reached at jimboshea@gmail.com and on Twitter @jimboshea.