The other day my son Paul suggested something so disturbing, so cringe inducing, so horrific, I had to hold onto my kitchen counter for support. “I need a new bureau. Let’s go back to IKEA.”
All I could do was shake my head, repeating the word, “No.” I cannot. I will not go back to IKEA for these nine reasons…
#1–First, they lure you in with Swedish meatballs and Lingonberry parfaits. Don’t fall for it. Their cafeteria, located in front of the store, is light-filled, cheerful and Scandinavian. Colorful bins brim over with red, yellow, blue and green potholders, pencils, teapots and plate mats. You think what a fun, wonderful place. But then you enter the rest of the store…
#2 – It’s designed in this confusing labyrinth. Explorer Ernest Shackleton would get lost. You need to scatter breadcrumbs to find your way out. Not to mention all their furniture has Swedish names with 17 syllables and no vowels. Half the time I couldn’t remember where I was or what I liked, let alone how to pronounce it.
#3 — There are no salespeople. Usually salespeople at furniture stores are like wolves circling baby goats. You can’t move two feet without hearing, “Can I help you?” Not at IKEA. It’s like invasion of the body snatchers. You walk for miles and slowly realize there are only tired, confused-looking customers. No employees are anywhere.
#4 – Wait, there’s one! Finally, after an hour we stumbled upon a hollowed-eyed woman wearing an IKEA tag who looked like she’d never seen a human before. When I asked how I went about buying furniture, she pointed to an odd plastic pouch hanging from a sofa. “All information’s there,” she said and wafted away.
#5 – Those odd plastic pouches. All IKEA items have a baggy with a bunch of order forms and one stubby pencil. This is their system. It dawned on me why they charge so little. You do everything yourself. And I mean…everything. An uneasy feeling started to grow.
#6 – The “I can’t assemble things” shaming. After filling out the sales ticket, we stood in a long line to pay. When I voiced concern to the cashier that I didn’t know an Allen wrench from pickled herring, she looked at me like I’d just shot a puppy. Sighing, she handed over a paper with the name of a local assembler. Phew, I thought walking away. We’re almost out of IKEA’s clutches. Little did I know, the worst was yet to come…
#7 – The warehouse. Remember those galley ship movies as kids? Dozens of sweaty men chained to benches, rowing? That’s what IKEA’s warehouse reminded me of, except you’re expected to sit down and pick up an oar. After realizing we were completely on our own, Paul and I secured a trolley and I asked one of the few, tired-looking workers where we could find the Koppanghemnes bureau. “Row 270-B,” he said, jerking his thumb toward an area the size of 10 airport hangars.
#8 – The massive body strength required. Half hour later, Paul and I found the Koppanghemnes bureau, unassembled in three flat boxes, just high enough to qualify as an Olympic event. We struggled to get them onto the trolley, went through another long line to check out, and finally exited, blinking in the bright sunlight. Three hours had gone by. I wanted to stand there, arms in the air, like the triumphant prison break scene in “Shawshank Redemption.”
#9 – You have to store everything before (head lowered) having it assembled. We finally got home and once again, lugged those damn boxes to our garage where they sat until I called the wonderful man who magically turned this stuff into an actual bureau…for another fee.
Needless to say, I won’t be returning to IKEA in the near future, although they do have Lingonberry parfaits. (And yes, I know I’m treading on thin ice here. Many people love IKEA.)
— Laurie Stone
Laurie Stone writes from the woods of Easton, Connecticut. Her blog, “Musings, Rants & Scribbles,” shares thoughts on growing up, growing older and growing (hopefully) wiser. She draws inspiration from her poor, unsuspecting husband of several decades, two grown sons, family and friends (including the furry ones). You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. She has written for the Huffington Post, Medium, Pick the Brain, Midlife Boulevard and In the Know Traveller, among many others.