One would think that an outing to IKEA would be simple when one knew exactly what they wished to purchase. Guess again.
Last week, I realized that the people who designed the IKEA store have a sadistic sense of humour.
IKEA is laid out like a maze. And it is a brilliantly designed maze.
If you make the mistake of entering the showroom, you must negotiate the entire maze. You can be tricked into thinking that there are shortcuts (magical spots in the maze where if you look left or right, you see a number of doorways in perfect alignment with neon exit signs that beacon a way out). These shortcuts always appear at the exact moment when you have reached a point of futility. They give a glimmer of hope. With renewed vigour and confidence, you set your sights on the most distant exit sign and run. Alas, you reach the sign only to find a wall and an arrow painted on the floor pointing in the direction of more IKEA maze. *sigh*
You must survive the showroom maze at all costs. You must retain a glimmer of energy. Why? Because you don't really exit the showroom maze. The exit is actually the entrance to the marketplace maze. The marketplace maze has all the same exit sign tricks as the showroom maze but they're more difficult to find because of all the marketplace clutter.
Again, you must survive the marketplace maze at all costs. You must retain a glimmer of energy. Why? Because you don't really exit the marketplace maze. The exit is actually the entrance to the warehouse maze. The only difference here, is that you can retain a shopping buggy to wearily lean against for support. You can do this for about 30 seconds until you realize the buggy has a wonky wheel and you have to pull left with all your might to keep the buggy straight.
The warehouse maze is the cruelest maze of all. When you look for aisle 15, don't look between aisle 14 and aisle 16. Don't look across from aisle 14 or 16. You must look in the least logically place, that is, across from and down about 5 aisles. There. Somewhere in the middle of the dark and cavernous aisle you'll find the item you're looking for. This part is easy. Just look for the bin that is at least 6 inches above your head in a box that weights at least your own body weight.
This is the self-serve section of course. The muscles that you build tracking the buggy will come in handy here. Slide the box off the shelf on to the buggy. You'll know you have the box positioned correctly to slide onto the buggy when you feel the fabric of your coat being chafed away and you feel the warm moist sensation of blood dripping down your shoulder.
By this time, you're too tired to care about the long checkout line wait. You just join the other maze rats with corresponding blank stares until you swipe your credit card and you're off!
At the exit, the pedestrian crosswalk is not paved with asphalt. The IKEA designers have one last laugh with the teeth-jarring cobblestone. Brdrdrdrdrdrdrdr. And of course the weight of the box on the wonky cart makes the cart spin sideways. That's because the crosswalk also has to be sloped.
Package successfully stowed in the car, you think the worst is over and you can head home. Wrong. Urban planning is the IKEA designer's best weapon. One must exit IKEA left on a busy street with no traffic light. If you don't die of old age during the wait, you get to at least watch your hair grow as you turn left and immediately are stopped by a train at a railway crossing. It's always a long train.
Home at last, you eagerly open your package and count and catalogue all the bits and pieces to make sure you have all the bits and pieces before beginning assembly. If you don't do this, you will surely run out of bits and pieces and have to return to the dreaded IKEA.
Don't worry. It's not all that bad. At least you'll have enough cardboard to burn throughout a cold Swedish winter and entertain your cat for months.