Laws, yes. M-O-O-N. That’s spells IKEA. And what a sight it was to behold. In fact, I’m going to do my best to document the experience from the perspective of all five senses. Yes, all five! It’s a lofty goal. Let’s see how I do.
After consulting the texts of ancient lore (Google) we determined that we’d have to drive through about 10 miles of urban jungle in areas we had never explored before. This was going to be something new. I packed my machete just in case we saw any urbane gorillas.
At first we worried we might get lost, but while still about 42 miles away, the shape of IKEA loomed large and glowed in the distance. There was no mistaking the mountain of yellow and blue which shined bigger and brighter than Mt. Everest as seen from a distance of 12 feet.
The only close call we had on the way over was when my wife reflexively knee-jerked the car and almost pulled into the parking lot of another garishly colored blue and yellow building. But that only turned out to be the IKEA warehouse. I hate to burst any bubbles but apparently the trendy product widgets contained in the IKEA store are not actually björn there.
We rolled up on the parking lot, the likes of which we had never before seen. For safety we decided to park in the midpoint area, only about a 4.2 mile hike from the store.
Once inside the entrance, we found ourselves in the Welcoming Chamber. I felt like I had just stepped into a Disneyland ride. It’s hard to describe but it had that feel. As my wife and I gaped and tried not to feel like fools, we stood there like fools blocking the impatient professional IKEAns who already knew what to do and flaunted it. They grabbed their Yellow Bags ™ and hopped on the escalator to the second floor.
“Apparently,” I remarked, “everyone is shopping for the same thing. They’re all heading for the second floor.”
Not to be left out, we also grabbed a Yellow Bag even though we had brought our old and busted reusable shopping bag with us. We felt ashamed.
Luckily a foldout brochure containing a map of the store was provided. Wait. WTF? A map? Of the store? Yes. A map! Guiltily I grabbed one and waited to be chased by the Supreme Being but that didn’t happen.
The map indicated that we had entered a labyrinth of most evil construction and that we would face many dangers if we were to ever successfully escape. I was glad I still had my machete.
With no other option before us, we boarded the escalator and headed for the second floor. The “Showroom” awaited. For the record, I’d like to point out that neither of us could remember the last time we had ridden on the technological marvel known as the escalator. This was truly big city living.
Once there, my wife, who was spellbound at what she was seeing, mumbled something about, “Where do we go?”
I pointed at the arrows thoughtfully emblazoned on the floor and burst into song. “Follow the yellow brick röad. Follow the yellow brick röad!”
Since our new home is 750 sq. ft., the trip had a specific purpose. My wife wanted to look at a butcher block and a storage rack for the kitchen. She also wanted a package of 10 s-hooks for 99 cents. And because our new fridge doesn’t have an ice maker, we needed ice cube trays, also 99 cents each. That’s it. That’s all we needed from this gigantor place.
Adventurer’s Journal, Day Two: Refreshed from a night’s respite and ready to take on the day, we broke camp and headed out for the kitchen area. We have high hopes we will arrive at our destination before dusk…
In the kitchen area, my wife pursed a selection of the items she coveted. I had to admit, they did look neat. Many of them were designed to pull double or triple duty in small living spaces, which was exactly what we needed. Apparently, though, you have to assemble them yourself, and our house doesn’t provide that kind of luxurious room. I made a mental note to factor in the cost of hiring a TaskRabbit should we ever decide to make a purchase.
Strangely enough the kitchen area didn’t have ice cube trays. I asked a friendly blue and yellow associate for help and was informed they were on the first floor in the “Marketplace.” Ah, but of course.
We were about to merge back on the yellow brick road when I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. It was the largest elevator I had ever seen. It must have been twenty feet wide. Wow, what is it? Did they put the freight elevator in the middle of the store? Ominously the doors opened and I saw that my guess was wrong. Inside there were 42 women pushing 42 strollers containing 42 infants and toddlers.
Hurry, baby! Let’s get going! Follow the yellow brick röad!
That danger escaped, we proceeded apace, although clearly my wife would need to return soon (without me this time) so she could see all the store had to offer. Me? I was only concerned with making good time. I’d pull out my stopwatch and say, “Tsk, tsk!” repeatedly.
At one point we came around a corner and found an oasis in the product desert. It was a restaurant! WTF? A restaurant hidden and tucked away inside of a furniture store? We were truly living the big city dream now.
Since I’m a sucker for meatballs, we decided to give it a try. We dutifully hung our yellow bag on the provided hooks, grabbed out trays, and got some dinner. It turned out to be the $5.99 meatball special which included 15 meatballs, a scoop of mashed potatoes, a squirt of jellied berries in red sauce, some gravy, a side salad, and a beverage. Seemed like a good deal. And it was all dispensed by people who looked like Oompa Loompas working in a clean room wearing funny hats. They had about the same personality, too. Bored much?
Meatballs? Oh, I get it. The store wants to be everything Swedish. I looked around for the massage offered by blonde women seven feet tall but I never did find it. Too bad. They could have called it the Husband Play Area.
Clearly the restaurant was waterboarding small children, judging solely by the incessant screams of torment, so we opted to sit as far away from the noise as possible. That was one thing that truly befuddled me about the whole experience: The sheer numbers of young people that had been brought, presumably by their parents, to the store. There were millions of the little devils. Apparently these parents were trying to further the belief system that shopping is an enjoyable activity, an activity in and of itself. That’s some fucked up shit.
The food was marginal at best. My wife and I entered into a pact that we would never voluntarily eat there again.
Finally, we hiked downstairs. No escalator provided this time. We were getting close to escape. I could feel it. A glance at the map confirmed my instincts. Yep. Only one more maze to go! The “Marketplace” maze.
We found the ice cube trays, none of which looked like ice cube trays. They were little rubber squares that contained a myriad of odd shapes. My wife opted for the ones that looked like Jujyfruits candy and would make 16 pieces per tray in a Swedishly-efficient 4×4 grid. What will they think of next? Even our freezer can be space efficient!
At this point I was out of my mind and had taken up the practice of approaching store workers and saying, “IKEA?” When they looked at me confused, I would yelp, “Wouldn’t want to be ya!”
My favorite products seen as at IKEA:
- Möön Pie
At the checkout aisle I made an ass out of myself one last time for good measure. “Cheese,” I said to the checker. “I wanted my cheese.” When she looked confused, I added, “I conquered the maze. I want my cheese!”
Finally we had made it. We paid, passed by one more food establishment (wow) and were out the doors and back in the non-fresh air. And get this, we even – somehow – found our car. Against all odds.
We had purchased $7 worth of stuff which we transferred from Yellow Bag to our own bag. I don’t know if we’ll have room for that in our house. More possessions! Curse you, IKEA!
Addendum: Senses Check
- Sight: Check. The store as seen from a distance.
- Sound: Check. Screaming babies.
- Taste: Check. Swedish meatballs.
- Touch: Check. I have to admit. I played with a few pieces of furniture.
- Smell: Check. Did I mention the meatballs yet?
Achievement Earned: IKEA the Light!