Monday, 17 August 2009

I Want the Valium Concession!

Anybody who has ever had the pleasure of shopping at IKEA knows that the do-it-yourself home goods store from Sweden has attempted to make your consumer experience a happy one. There are cafes, restaurants, child care stations and baked goods available on site, just in case your collision with conspicuous consumption becomes a bit too overwhelming. I have decided that there is one concession stand missing from the IKEA menu. Of course, I am speaking of mood enhancers. The one thing that IKEA is lacking is a concession stand brimming with Valium, Xanax and perhaps a shot of tequila or two. After my experience today, I could have mainlined the shit.

It is that time of year again. Back to school is upon us, and of course all of us unsuspecting parents who have hoped to keep the credit cards in mothballs are feeling the cold and familiar sweats of shopping, outfitting and replacing the old and decrepit. This fall, Younger Son will be moving from the dorms to housing off campus, and thus requires some basic necessities in order to fully function as the model student that his father and I know him to be. After some false starts in planning and some hemming and hawing as to his actual needs, it was decided that number one on his "must have" list was a bed. (It doesn't seem all that unreasonable to me that my second-born should want to sleep on a mattress as opposed to the floor in a sleeping bag. I am not so sure about The Husband's view on this matter, but at this point it is irrelevant.) I was given advice on bed shopping by several friends, and so with my VISA card making whimpering noises that were clearly audible from within the depths of my purse, Younger Son and I set out on our mission.

Department stores were a non-starter. The cost of mattresses, box springs and frames was enough to pay his rent for the first semester alone, so IKEA clearly became our best bet. At this point I should relay the information that we came very prepared for the excursion. I had sent the boy downtown to his new residence yesterday armed with a tape measure, graph paper and a camera. I told him that he was to accurately measure the room, draw a scale diagram, (complete with windows, doors and radiator!) and take photos (the camera broke, of course!) so that we could assess the space and discern what furniture would easily fit. Sometimes my anal retentiveness pays dividends. He came home with a wonderful drawing (he is a computer software major-so entirely mathematical!) which we took with us and the aforementioned tape measure. IKEA is a wonderful store to meander, if you are in a meandering mood. If you are in a directed mood, it sucks shit. All I wanted to do was get to the bed department, but instead we had to follow the f*@%ing yellow brick road that took us through kitchens, bathrooms, offices, kid's furniture, and storage until we were finally allowed to see the wizard. After some diligent shopping and measuring, we decided that the double bed frame with a name that I could swear sounded like a sneeze, was perfect both for sleeping and for my wallet. We accurately recorded the ridiculous handles for both the frame and the mattress. Given that I don't regularly drive a U-haul, we knew that both pieces would need to be delivered to his new home. After picking up a few other odds and ends, we made our way downstairs to collect our smaller purchases and to check out. Not so fast, Dawn.

As we start to queue up, a semi-helpful IKEA employee (semi-helpful in that she wasn't on her cell phone!) comes over to ask if we would like self-service check out. I explain that we will need to deal with home delivery for the bed and mattress. She looks at our cart and quizzically asks, what bed and mattress? I didn't realize that we had to actually go and retrieve these items as well from the warehouse if we were getting home delivery. Back we go. We find the appropriate aisle for the bed frame and both the boy and I now realize that we will now require another cart (flatbed style) in order to transport the bloody thing. Off he runs to retrieve one. While he is gone, I realize that this is just the frame and the slats and the mid-frame bar are not included. Younger Son returns with the flatbed and the two of us go up and down the aisles searching in vain for the missing items. NOBODY WILL HELP US!!! Their personal calls are much more important. I explain loudly and not so nicely to the boy that he will need to run back upstairs to retrieve the stupid Swedish names for these items along with the aisle and bin numbers. 10 minutes later I call him to tell him that I think that I have found what we are looking for, just as he is writing down Farvegnuggen or some such nonsense! Down he trudges as we turn our attention to the mattress. He has the right location, but the mattress in that bin is the wrong size. We need the full/double and these are twins. Another 20 minutes wasted while we walk up and down the warehouse. I am ready to set myself aflame in the middle of the floor, when finally he finds it and we queue up once again. We are now in the self-service line when our friendly semi-helpful employee (bitch!) informs us that if we want home delivery, we need to be in the full-service (much longer snaking around the f!@*ing store!) line. 25 minutes later, we are directed to yet another line down at the opposite end of the store to arrange for the delivery of the items that we just shlepped, wheeled and paid for. What exactly is IKEA doing for the $70 bucks that I shelled out? Driving it downtown!

Three ulcer-inducing hours later, we were finally out of hell and on our way home. The stuff is supposed to be delivered tomorrow between 9-5, so the boy is headed downtown to wait. He actually had the nerve to ask me if I wanted to come with to see the place. After I gagged on my swallowed tongue, I politely told him that I will come down in a day or two after my meds kick in. I have visions of directions written in Swedish and a missing allen key and, frankly it was all just too much to handle. I'm telling you IKEA-Valium!! It is a gold mine in waiting!


  1. You've got to find a copy of Nancy White's Momnipotent, and listen to Everything Turn to Ratshit in My Life - her ode to IKEA.

  2. I had that album on tape a hundred years ago. I had forgotten about that song. I should dig it out and listen again.