Once upon a time I was in a serious quandary. I wanted some cheap, plastic, materialistic consumer shit made in China and I wanted it now. What to do, what to do?
As I saw it, there were two choices.
I could haul my fat ass up and out of my chair, somehow make it to the car, drive to a big-box store, somehow make it inside and navigate the maze to (hopefully) the right section where the object of my desire might be found. All the while being blasted by a tasty mix of songs scientifically designed to make me spend more money. (The mix is a rotation of two songs. Happy, by Pharrell Williams and anything by Mumford & Sons.)
I say “might” because I’ve tried this in the past and it didn’t quite work out. Ever go to the store to buy one specific thing? After expending incredible effort (see previous paragraph) you learn it isn’t even there. Out of stock. I do not believe there is a worse feeling in the entire universe.
And that other choice I mentioned earlier? Amazon. Duh.
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Ah, Europe. A place where they eat cigarettes like Halloween candy going out of style yet worry about every little nit when it comes to their food.
“Oui! Next week I may hack up a cancerous thing that used to be a lung but today I will live, dammit, live! The juices of life must be savored to the fullest! The one thing we must absolutely never allow is diphenylamine in our food, you damn foolishly greedy capitalistic yanks.”
I, for one, say thanks. Because, without the European Food Safety Authority banning this, that and the other thing, I wouldn’t be able to say things like: “Oh yeah? Well Kraft Macaroni & Cheese still contains two artificial dyes banned in Europe.” Chef Booyah la de Fuckin’ Dah!
Kraft Foods is an American food company that was owned by a tobacco company until recently when they jury rigged the corporate legalese by rebranding Philip Morris as Altria Inc. and allegedly, in 2007, successfully underwent a Siamese twins separation operation, at least theoretically on paper. That’s because Kraft wants you to know they care about what you put in your body. Kraft Kares ™.
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I have dubbed the trip Grouchy With A Chance Of Meatballs.
Per standard operating procedure I was lured into the midst via deception. “Let’s do brunch,” said my wife. Then, after my tummy was slaked and my attention wandered, suddenly our car was pulling into the gaping maw of Hell.
“What the Hell?” I stammered redundantly.
Yes, it was the IKEA super mega store on steroids. (I think they call them STOROIDS.) Lest there be any doubt: The “holiday season” is upon us.
Cars were flying in every direction. People were running and screaming. Their hair was on fire. Vendors were pumping out hot dogs. A dog barked. A garish clown on stilts juggled live babies. It was the peak hour of the peak day of the week and the peaking holiday season was upon us. And we were now in the epicenter where Swedish style and design meet in the supercollider of Want.
GRUNDTAL! You’re welcome.
Step one of shopping at IKEA is not navigating the labyrinth or even following your nose to the nearest deceptively aromatic meatball. No, before those phases may begin one must find a temporary storage location for one’s Volvo. I’m talking about, of course, the PARKERINGSPLATS.
But then, something unexpected happened. Call it a Hobbit’s journey, if you wish. I call it a Very Guru Christmas. It was time for a new Festivus tradition henceforth to be called the Random Act Of Kindness (To An Asshole).
For some it would be a confusing time.
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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.
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For eight years we’ve tried not to obtain any AA batteries. Instead we got a fancy charger and four sets of batteries to feed (in an eco-friendly way) our power-hungry cameras. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to take masterpiece photographs like the one featured in this very post.
Even so, occasionally we’d fail and still somehow end up buying those piece of shit single-use AAs. I couldn’t bring myself to toss them in the trash so I stuck ’em in a jar on the shelf. The thought of my used up batteries leeching chemicals into the Earth thousands of years after I was gone just didn’t sit right with me.
Over time the collection slowly grew. I tried to put it out of my mind. No place local would take them. I had no clue what to do.
Moving day looms large. It’s only three days until I’m supposed to fill that truck. Meanwhile, what to do with my rotting collection of AA carcasses? My choices seem obvious. Pack them and haul them to the new house (even more dead weight up used up possessions) or give up and throw them in the garbage because my body is destroyed from packing and I have no fight left in me.
I guess I could throw them in a fire and roast hotdogs and marshmallows on them. Seems a fitting end. For both of us.
Sometimes the path of giving up and giving in can lead to the ultimate liberation. I should know. I have plenty of experience with both.
Ah, shit. I don’t have the guts to toss ’em in the landfill. I guess they’ll make a nice paperweight in my new office. Till death do us part! Maybe I can be buried with them. “Here lies Tom B. Taker. He’s all charged up about it.”