We had tired of the old fiber board desks from Target, and my parents finally invested in a nice, solid, oak office desk for the family. Our plan was to use it for the computer tower, the Rolodex, our fax machine, and the filing cabinet of old manuals and warranties for which household appliances we could never remember.
It was a fairly expensive furniture purchase, though looking back on it, we probably could have gotten away with a cheaper model.
Still, the many boxes arrived at the house, and we began the slow, steady process of assembling. It was a fine desk, so we made sure none of the boxes had been damaged during shipment and did a visual inspection of all the components. We even hand-polished a few of the facing pieces to make sure that was just dust on the desktop and not a large scratch.
For the first time, my dad actually sat and read the assembly directions before pulling out his tools. Everything seemed in order, and we dug in.
A few hours later, and most of the desk was assembled. It was built in two large pieces that, apart, took at least two people to maneuver. The entire L-shaped desk took at least three of us to get into position. The final (heaviest) piece to add on was the right-hand desktop.
We lifted it into place and rested the wall-facing side on the appropriate pegs. On the count of three, my brother and I eased the room-facing side down and ...
It didn't fit.
Half of the pegs lined up, half were off by just a hair. Enough that if you pushed just right and hit the desk in just the right place they might actually fall into place.
My brother did just that. Kneeling beside the desk, he threw his palm against the desktop. Then his fist. Then his elbow. Then ... pop. The desktop was in place.[ref]He got yelled at for forcing it too quickly later, but that's not the point.[/ref]
We didn't discover until a few years later that we'd assembled the desktop backwards. The pegs weren't meant to line up the way we had them. A too-heavy printer caused things to pop apart again, and we noticed the penciled-on directions to line up the opposite side against the wall.
We popped off the desktop, turned it around, and voila! It fit perfectly.
Does It Fit?
Those of us with blogs or product lines or marketing messages often have a piece of material we want to put out that doesn't quite fit with the rest of our message. You can force it and massage it into place today, but when placed under pressure years from now, that heavy-handed fitting will pop apart.
The next time you're prepping an article, a newsletter, a product proposal, or anything with your brand stamped on it stop and ask yourself: does it fit? Or am I trying to force this into place?