I Am the Pitmaster!

I know it’s sad, very sad, but one of my dreams have recently been realised, which is getting my very own smoker unit so I can do some pulled pork and beef.

As you know, we have recently migrated to the US and have started our new life (adventure) in a land that gives you all the opportunities – if you will take them – and we’ve have embraced the American way of life fully.

Last weekend, we ventured to the local hardware store, aka Home Depot, and I was amazed with the selection of BBQ units available … and the prices.  These suckers were at least half price compared to Ireland, and they are bigger too.  I guess the Americans love their BBQ food, and use the opportunity to make food for family and friends.

Anyway, I found my future BBQ unit.  It was love at first sight.  It is a combo unit that has three in one; gas, charcoal AND smoker.  What more can I ask for.  I had to have it.

The friendly shop assistant asked if I wanted it assembled or delivered.  Assembled meant that they would assemble and I would transport the beast home.  Minor problem here, the beast wouldn’t fit into the mini-van.  Anyway, I had just purchased my Milwaukee power drill, so I was ready to take on any DIY task.

However, I did ask the friendly shop assistant if it would be difficult to assemble this beast, whereto he replied “not really, it’s just a few screws really as the frame and drum is pre-assembled and packed into the box”.  Should I believe him?

…I trusted him blindly.

On the day of delivery, the house phone rang at 6.28am.  I wasn’t even awake yet and stumbled across the floor, kicking every possible object along the way.  Please remember, we’ve only just moved into our house, so navigating in darkness becomes a real challenge, when you are not familiar with the surroundings and when the floor is covered in debris from our unpacking exercise.  By the time I finally reached the phone, they person ringing had given up and the phone stopped.  Damn you!

Shortly after, I heard the familiar sound of a large van/truck reversing, but didn’t think anything of it.  But, it was in fact the BBQ that had been delivered.

I didn’t realise this until I was getting ready to leave for work and saw a ginormous box (on a wooden palette) in the driveway.  Thankfully it wasn’t blocking my car.

I quickly assessed the box and thought it would be better if I dragged into the garage.  After giving the box a gentle pull, and discovering that it was very heavy, I left it in the driveway and decided to pull it into safety after work.

It wasn’t until Sunday lunchtime when I got the opportunity to assemble the beast.

I starred at the box trying to see through the box, which didn’t work, and pulled out my Leather-man.  You can build anything with a Leather-man, but I did bring my new cool power drill along to the party too.

Slowly, I cut through the plastic wires holding the box in place on the palette, and they snapped off.  One of them cut my leg, no stitches required, but a painful paper-cut nevertheless.

The horror!  Inside was a variety of smaller boxes and black pieces, which resembled bits from the picture.  The no-longer so friendly salesperson had lied to me.  This was a jigsaw of black metal pieces and screws, which would make even the Extreme Makeover team nervous.

There must have been at least 200 pieces.  Thankfully there was a pretty OK manual.  Let the challenge begin.

I slowly started to assembled the beast, crawling on my knees, holding and screwing various bits together.  I’m always afraid that there’s going to be bolts and screws en mass left-over, as this normally indicates that something has gone wrong.

The sweat was pouring off me as I had decided to built it in the basement, and the light was not the greatest, making the challenge somewhat frustrating.

Suddenly, my lovely 7 year old daughter emerged into the basement asking if she could help.  And, mum also wondered when I would be ready – no pressure.

Am I, as a parent, allowed to put my little girl to work, without being accused of child labour?

I needed her small fingers to hold some of the screws into place, while I attempted to screw them in.  She needed to hold the flashlight, so we could see the difficult to reach places.  And, I needed somebody to wipe the sweat of my forehead like some doctor’s assistance during difficult surgery.

This was a difficult task I must admit, so the assistance was very much appreciated.  I also figured that since we were within our own premises, child labour doesn’t count.  It’s interest hours – father/daughter DIY time.  I was merely teaching her DIY skills, so she one day could assist her husband.

Her first task was to get me a coke.  I was dying of thirst after having lost a gallon of body fluids during the first 1.5 hours of this challenge of men.

I laugh at people trying to do the triathlon.  You should build your own Brinkmann BBQ unit instead.  Then you’ll find out what real pain is.

Just as slowly as I had started, just as slowly did I progress.  What I thought would take 30 minutes, lasted a whopping 2.5 hours … and about two gallons of sweat.

I was proud.  Real proud.  I had finished what I set out to do, with no parts left-over and a BBQ that looked exactly like the picture.  Now I just had to drag it into position on the other side of the house, up the hill.  Thank god for the wheels I attached as part of the manual.

Finally done.  I presented the wonder to the family.  They all cheered and clapped, knowing that such a reception would make me happy.  Then my dear wife kindly asked what we were going to have for dinner!

BBQ of course.  If this meant only having meat, then so be it.  I didn’t just spend 2.5 hours in a dark basement assembling the beast, only to have take-away food or some other healthy option.  Mr. Atkins, bring on your diet menu!

It was of course the best meal since arriving in the US.  Steaks were grilled to almost perfection and the chicken still resembled chicken – not too sure what the sausages looked like, but it all tasted wonderful.


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