Tuesday, August 16, 2005

IKEA = My Idea of Hell

This past weekend I flew to Atlanta for my mom’s birthday. There are way too many stories to fit into one post, so I’ll start with the one where we went to the new IKEA store. I’m not sure how many millions of people live in the Atlanta area, but I do know that approximately 1/3 of them were shopping at IKEA after church on Sunday. Being the good Genericans that we are, my mom, sister, and I drove downtown and saw the big looming blue box that was akin to the size of a football dome. We drove around in the parking garage for what seemed like hours, but was probably just a mere 30 minutes or so. We literally stalked people who were coming out of the store and followed them to their cars. After about 4 failed attempts where we were outwitted by another rabid parker, we found a spot.

Dizzy from exhaust fumes, we entered into another dimension that I can only describe as a cross between a slaughterhouse and Disney World. The masses were herded into the building by escalators. The first stop was the bathroom, which I swear they pump in cinnamon roll fragrance through the air vents to entice you to eat in the restaurant. I’m not sure I will ever eat another cinnamon roll since I now associate them with squatting over a public toilet, trying to keep my pant legs from falling into puddles of urine.

The IKEA staff then took out their cattle prods and directed us into the showrooms of furniture, which were my favorite part. They reminded me of the Carousel of Progress attraction at Disney World. It was hard to fight the urge to curl up on one of the little beds and take a nap.

I got swept up in the amazing deals and low, low prices and crossed the very fine line of “just looking” to balls-to-the-wall Christmas shopping for everyone I know. This is probably how regular people feel when they go to Wal Mart. I remember thinking “I better buy everything I see, because I am never coming back here.”

We wound around the entire place and found a spot in the shortest checkout line. We got lucky because there were only 15 families in front of us. Because my mom, sister, and I never talk about the weather or gas prices, we launched into a discussion about their upcoming trip to Italy and their wishes, should they all perish at one time. We discussed the problem of finding homes for 2 cats and 3 dogs, life insurance, organ donation, and funeral arrangements. I will attest to the fact that we are not your average family, but the notable part is that we had enough time to have this deep discussion, make plans, wipe away our tears, and wrap things up before we were even able to see the cashier on the distant horizon.

For all the thought that went into the IKEA store, something went terribly wrong at the checkout counter. The conveyor belt is blocked on both sides by plexiglass, and is so narrow that it is a balancing act to send the purchases through. Then, there is the fact that you have to wrap and bag your own purchases. I felt like I was shopping at Sav-a-Lot grocery store. Perhaps that is how they keep their prices down.

We refueled on free samples in the gourmet section, compared our bruises from other people’s purses/strollers/shopping carts, and then boarded a cross between an escalator, a ramp, and a moving side walk. The crafty Scandinavians fashioned the metal flooring to grip the shopping cart wheels so that no one in front of us would be taken out by our cart, should we let go of the handle. Don’t tell me that they thought of this, but that I imagined the pumping of the cinnamon roll scent through the bathroom vents.

Overall, I would rate the experience somewhere between a gynecological exam and a root canal. I have decided that any and all future IKEA purchases will be made online or by catalog from here on out.



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