Borrowed and posted at my old Blogger site back in 2009, but as I made my once-a-decade pilgrimage to IKEA yesterday, I thought it appropriate to dust it off.
Welcome to the premiere of Sunday Night Rants. Yes, I know it’s only the afternoon here but it’s night somewhere, so work with me. I envision this as a weekly series but we’ll see. God knows I have the requisite anger but I still have to make the time to put my vitriol on the computer screen.
I begin this rant against the furniture store Ikea. For those who don’t know (I have no idea how many of these hellholes have graced our shores), Ikea, which is Swedish for “stupid f****g Americans”, specializes in modern home decor. Its claims to fame are affordability (you can do a three room apartment for like $43) and the need to assemble 90% of the goods sold there yourself. But let us begin at the uh…ur…beginning.
Yesterday the wife announced that she wanted to go to Ikea to look for a small sideboard for our kitchen. Why Ikea, I have no idea. While I guess that I should have been happy that for once we were not starting by looking at the most expensive thing and working our way down, having been to Ikea once before I was willing to head to Pottery Barn or Crate and Barrel and pay the extra jing.
The weather has sucked all weekend so I knew that the place would be jammed with people who had no where else to be…and I was not disappointed. I must admit however that I was looking forward to “parking lot chess”.
I love PLC: the slow, calculated dance of cars in a crowded parking lot, each trying to seek out the elusive perfect spot. You follow people with keys in their hand, you look for reverse lights and then…”SWARM, SWARM”. You nail the gas and try to beat everyone else there. Good fun. Lots of accidents. That was the highlight of the afternoon for me.
Ikea is ingeniously designed. Once you enter, you follow a path on the floor that meanders back and forth, threatening to make little ox-bow lakes of items to make sure you see every single freaking item in the store. There are only a few shortcuts but these are carefully hidden and are all but unknown to all but the most battle hardened Ikeaphiles. (Little known historical fact but the Ikeaphiles were supposed to back up the 300 at the Hot Gates but couldn’t get out of the original store. You pretty much know what happened after that) Once on the path, you are on the way to Mordor and there is no turning back. It would be easier to rush TOWARD the bulls at Pamploma.
When it is crowded like yesterday, you just sort of go with the crowd. If I had a skateboard, I just would have been pushed along, which would have been nice since the store is ginormous and a really long walk.
Ah the crowd. It was like the UN in there which is fine but for the fact that I do not know how to say “have your f*****g conversation to the side of the path instead of causing a two mile backup with your shopping cart you steaming bag of pus” in 26 different languages. Three, possibly four times my wife caught me daydreaming as she yapped with my mother over various bullshit. My dream consisted of me going all Matrix on the crowd with a morning star in one hand and a war hammer in the other as speed metal blared. It made the time pass.
There are few salespeople in Ikea. It is mostly self serve, which further heightens profits…and homicidal urges, as you can never find anyone to help. Should you corner one of the rare (we are talking getting-your-gear-from-a-custom-maker-before-you-die-of-old-age rare here) indigenous high school drop out urban dwellers in a yellow shirt and ask for help you get a blank, vapid stare that positively screams “I traded my brain for meth”.
What you do is take a little piece of paper and a even smaller pencil that are situated everywhere and write down the name, model, isle number and bin number of the item you wish to buy. Yes, isle number and bin number. These are EXTREMELY important if you ever wish to leave Ikea alive with your item. More on this later.
What type of person does Ikea make furniture for you ask? Well, for college students for dorm rooms, first time home or apartment buyers and homeless people, it’s great. Also, I imagine it would be perfect for guys who have had the steely rod of divorce law shoved deep into their rectums and whose various milk crates and shopping carts currently furnishing their hovel were repo-ed by Stop and Shop.
All of the stuff has various Swedish sounding names that just have to be made up as they consist mostly of consonants with an occasional umlaut thrown it. Beechwood abounds. Some of the stuff resembles the packing crates that real furniture is shipped in. But it is inexpensive…and this is still further proof of Mr. Ikea’s genius. If it’s cheap…you can buy MORE!!! I saw a large bin of plastic cubes about one foot square that opened on one end. They were thin, white plastic. They were marked 3 for $5. I had no idea what you would do with them and I’m sure the people surrounding the bin had no idea either…..as they poured them into their carts, one after another. Mr. Ikea, I bow to you.
Now, the fun stuff…the Cavern of Lost Souls or Ikea’s warehouse. A gigantic 5 story tall tool shed of a building. Remember the isle and bin numbers? Here’s how it works. You have to pick up everything yourself as again, there is no help. You go to the right isle, search for your bin and place the box on the cart. Everything is in flat boxes as they are easier to ship and take up less space to store. They can also be heavy. I am sure that many, many people have been maimed or killed by box crushings.
Should you forget your isle or bin numbers….well. Legend has it that there are people who have wandered through the warehouse since it opened years ago. Once in awhile you will see a poster asking for help in finding someone who ventured to get a Kolmstank or a Pupli or a Sklohimple without the numbers….never to return. The worst turn into a Swedish version of CHUD, sustaining themselves on small children and senior citizens, the two most annoying Ikea roamers.
After loading your garbage you take it to the one place the Ikea has positively fortified with workers, the checkout. Again, you must do the work. Place small items on the conveyor belt and leave the boxes on the cart. Oh yeah. You know that 500 lb box that you had a death struggle with not too long ago? You know, the one that is covered with drops of your sweat, some saliva and quite possibly blood. It needs to be facing forward so the bar code can be read by the scanner. They don’t tell you that in the warehouse where it matters but on a little sign at the cashier’s station. Half the people there were groaning as they once more locked horns with the heavy boxes. Funniest were the one’s with four boxes piled high and only the bottom one facing the wrong way. Those people just sat and cried.
Where Mr. Ikea dropped the ball was on his faith in the bottom rung of the American work force. The cashiers were horrific. Ours couldn’t get the credit card machine to work correctly. I hypothezised that her home arrest ankle monitor was interfering with the electronics. You want to bring the Swedish Wave to its knees, pay cash. The whole system crashes. Once more I pondered using my vast professional training to tell Shequeqwa that my purchases were the equivalent of four decks of Mexican brown, two grams of coke and a small rock of meth. She rang us right up.
Today I assembled the sideboard. Took three hours. Didn’t want to shoot today anyway. And before I hear from the figures-a-lawyer-can’t-do-s**t-for-himself crowd, I grew up in the construction business and know my way around a hammer. The cartoon instruction manual is a little iffy and the quality of the components don’t exactly scream “NASA”.
So I implore you to learn from my pain and save yourselves. IKEA is one of the greatest threats to our country since turkey Bacon. They should be nuked from orbit..you know, just to make sure.