Family Intervention at IKEA
For years and years I heard about the wonders of IKEA: how the furniture, rugs, lamps, dishes -- you name it -- were hip-looking and cheap as hell. But, interestingly enough, Massachusetts had no IKEA store. In fact , the closest one was over the George Washington Bridge in New Jersey! So, when one finally opened just South of Boston, I was psyched. My husband and I did our homework, checked out the website, had a good idea what we wanted, but we were also kind of excited to experience the international phenom that is IKEA. So, on a Saturday we put our two children in the car and suggested that although this was in deed a trip to a furniture store -- this might even be fun.
First sign we were in for trouble: the building and parking lot were overwhelming in their size -- and yet we still only managed to get one of the last parking spaces in the whole joint. But, we were still game -- even after walking the length of several football fields to the entrance.
Then things got weird.
At some point early on, my husband and I realized that we were being herded in a specific path. (He and I don't take easily to being herded. We attribute it to our on-going struggles to shake off the effects of being raised within organized religions.) Then we were handed a checklist that we didn't understand and a tiny pencil, like the ones you get at miniature golf courses. We started shuffling through display rooms with countless other customers, dutifully following the arrows on the floor, but kept wondering aloud, "Where are the bookcases?" Diningrooms...kitchens...livingrooms...kids rooms -- we just wanted to buy some bookcases! When we finally saw something close to what we wanted in one of these faux-rooms, we couldn't find a price on it. It took a while to find an IKEA folk, but when we did she responded brightly that we had to write down what we wanted on the checklist and then get all the way to the end of the shuffle-path to find it in bins. Bins? I had no idea furniture could come in bins.
This predicament started wearing my family thin almost immediately. The lighting was too bright, there were way too many people, and there were way too many things to look at, period. By the time we got to the place where the bookcases lived, the heart of the shopping experience, my kids were at each others' throats and then turned on us. "Why are we still here?!" they pleaded. "When can we go home?!" We tried our best to make our choices quickly, but the checklist was still throwing us, and despite the fact that there seemed to be lots of individuals who had the trade-mark Swedish flag-colored IKEA shirts, no one seemed particularly ready to assist us. But somehow, we made our selection and realized that the numbers to the right told us what BIN to go to in order to find the bookcases. Got it! "We're thirsty?!" my kids whined.
"We are too, but we're almost there!" we rallied.
Several departments more through the shuffle-path and we were practically dragging each other, human chain style, in order to make it to the end.
Went to the correct aisle, found the correct bin and...half of what we needed WAS NOT IN STOCK!
"Are we done?" my kids asked hopefully.
"Jesus, I guess," I responded.
After wrestling half of what we needed into our car, I mentioned aloud that we would have to come back for the rest of the components. My eight-year-old took this as a cue to plead: "Please do it when I'm at school!"
Lessons Learned for next trip to IKEA:
- Find out what time they open on any day but Saturday or Sunday
- Check stock availability on line before going to the store
- Bring a canteen and compass
- Leave word with a love one when you expected to return
Note: I wish I could take credit for the ball-crawl picture above -- the trip to IKEA might have ended on a much more fun note -- but I got it from a website called "Writer's Block Magazine."