I’ve heard comedy routines about shopping at IKEA that are bang on, even though they are hilarious – maybe they’re so funny because we can picture ourselves in the various situations mentioned. They do have free refills on the pop, which is the one thing that made Pat
love tolerate shopping at IKEA. He spent a lot of time waiting for me in the cafeteria. Last time I was there, I had to smile while eating my lunch and remembering how he commented one day that a very old and bent over lady we saw walking the path with her cane had been going around and around for years and still couldn’t find her way out!
Going to IKEA always seems like a good idea early in the day when the mood strikes. I have my list to keep things organized and make sure I don’t forget anything, but I usually want to browse as well to get inspired, because I’m not a natural when it comes to decorating and I like to stroll through the rooms they have set up so I can see how things have been put together. I usually end up noticing things I wouldn’t pay attention to if they were just sitting on shelves somewhere.
But this becomes an event; I don’t try to combine a trip to IKEA with any other shopping. It’s straight there and straight home. I spend over an hour and a half driving just to get there, sometimes another fifteen minutes finding a parking space (I once circled the lot for half an hour while driving a borrowed van because all the empty spots were too small – committed or certifiable?). My game plan is to park near the exit for the fastest possible get away when I’m finished, as I have much more energy going in than coming out! (Remember the “START THE CAR!” lady?)
Once I’m inside, I have to ride the elevator up on one side to ride it down on the other so I can get to the place where they keep the real carts, because the goofy ones at the entrance hold those yellow bags for people who are certain they will only pick up a few things along their way to completing their recommended 10,000 steps; I’m sure Fit Bits light up triumphantly in that place every day! Then I’m back on the elevator to head up to begin the first leg of my trip. This preparation can take anywhere from five to fifteen minutes depending on the way other people move around the store, which brings me to one thing I’d like to suggest, and that is that there should be guidelines for shopping at IKEA (I like “rules” better but that’s just me):
#1) Just because the pathway is wide enough for your family of five to walk side by side, doesn’t mean you must. Some of us are on a mission and want to move through the store at a pace that will allow us to reach the till before closing time, or before our legs give out, and leaving space for others is just plain courteous.
#2) If you see a cart with no person attached to it in any of the furniture sections, assume its driver is somewhere nearby trying out the FURNITURE. Don’t steal it and make the other person walk all the way back, against the current, through the side by side families just to get another one.
#3) Have an adult steer the cart if things sticking out of it are twice as long as your child is tall. Maybe IKEA isn’t the best place to put your kids to work for you. Did you see the ball room at the start? That’s for the kids, especially the hyper ones. They don’t want to stand around while you plan your new kitchen so running around with a cart of stuff is a lot more fun, until they knock someone over or hit them in the face with the closet rod you grabbed for their bedroom.
Now that I have that off my chest, back to shopping. It’s a good thing they have those little stands everywhere with tape measures and pencils and preprinted lists for us to write down what we see that we want to find later on in the massive warehouse full of items with Swedish names I can rarely pronounce. If I don’t write something down when I see it – spelled correctly of course so that I don’t end up looking for a chair in the mattress aisle – there’s no way I’ll be able to tell anyone what it was, other than “that white shelf in the bedroom section about three feet high”. I don’t think there’s a Swedish word for that.
At some point, about halfway through the store, I’m shortening my list to the must-take-home-today-because-I-have-a-project items because I’m getting tired. Luckily that’s right around time for lunch, which I can conveniently have right there in the store without having to leave and come back to finish my shopping. You’ve got to love the fact that they have our food and drink needs taken care of right there so we don’t have to leave the store and can just keep on shopping!
Over lunch I usually start anticipating the long drive home I will have after I go down to the main level and work through the millions of cool things I probably don’t need to find the few that I do. These are usually in Home Organization, which requires me to slowly check everywhere so I don’t miss my items on some random end or in a bin that I’ve walked past while trying to dodge one of those side by side families or kid driven carts.
As I pass through the last shopping area into the wide open warehouse space, along with several other people on missions, I am both relieved to have made it, but a bit skeptical as to whether or not I’ve forgotten something and should turn back now before it’s too late. It’s a fleeting and daunting thought, but once I remind myself that I will surely be back another day, I forge ahead with my list of items to find while going over them in my head with an accent until my inner voice sounds like the Swedish Chef from the Muppet Show. The warehouse is so spacious and airy that it gives the impression we are now free and there are no more obstacles in our way…until I get to the tills, where it turns out that those side by side families are now finding everything they were looking for at the last minute and filling up a cart they didn’t have before – probably one they stole while I was trying out a couch.
If you have to stand in line for a long time, at least they have the little food stop just on the other side so you can drool and imagine what a drink will be like if you ever get across the line. This gives you time to memorize the pictures of what you are going to order because you can’t pronounce the words. By the time everything is paid for you just have to hope that there are no mistakes on the bill, because if there are, you need to move over about half a block to the returns and exchanges department, take a number and stand in line again. This is where the Fit Bits start to flash and people drop from exhaustion onto benches and no longer remember whether or not they brought their kids, hoping they haven’t left them in the ballroom because they just passed the last access.
I head for the exit, and because of my carefully planned parking, I am able to get my stuff out and loaded without too much trouble. I mean, if you have trouble, it’s not like there’s anyone to help you. IKEA is a self-serve store. We all know that when we go in, and we’re happy that the prices reflect the do-it-yourself strategy – after all planning the assembly project seems like fun first thing in the morning when you arrive – but coming out it’s a cruel reminder that you better be able to lift up that seventy-five pound cupboard on your own whether you got lunch or not. Sometimes at this point, between having to load it myself and anticipating the assembly process after a long day (I’ve learned to wait on the big stuff until I’ve had a good sleep!) I wonder – briefly – why I did this yet again!
My full relief and relaxation don’t come until I’ve navigated the parking lot, conquered the loop all the way up, around, and back down Calgary Trail to get to my Anthony Henday exit where I can finally breathe a sigh of relief because I’m on my way home.
It isn’t until I’m almost halfway home that I’m starting to get excited about what I’ve bought, the projects I will be able to do and how things are going to look. And once I have it all unloaded and ready to go, despite my sore muscles, I’m glad I went and I know I’ll go back because it’s a great place to find simple and DIY stuff at very decent prices.