Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Ikea -- part one.

January, 2002.
After three months of unemployment, I craved any small task that required me to brush my hair, put on socks and leave the house. The cat wanted me out too. I was making her chase way too many balls. She collapsed on the floor and let the balls bump off her head.

“So, what are you gonna do with yourself today?” Linda asks one morning during my unemployed period.
“Well,” I say, “I should really see about the clutch on my car.”
I like to use words such as “should” or “must” when listing my plans for the day. I find these words convey a sense of urgency mixed with drudgery, capturing -- I feel -- the essence of full-time employment.

“Or,” I hesitate trying to think of something I could do to spruce up our little home. “I should try to find some magazine files -- at Ikea.”
I kick the bulging cardboard box of VeloNew cycling magazines that has been occupying the hallway for eons.

“Ikea?” Linda says surprised. We’d seen the new structure growing like some concrete blue and yellow wildflower at the side of Highway 80 for months but we’d never ventured in. We’re not shoppers by nature. Things in our apartment generally have to decompose and enter the food chain before we replace them.
“Ikea?” she says. I see immediately that I’ve hit upon the Mother Teresa of good deeds. “You really want to go there?”
“Sure, why not,” I offer, full of good cheer and idleness.

I call my sister to tell her I’m going to Ikea. She’d just moved down from Seattle and said whenever she was depressed with her job, the rain or her bangs, IKEA snapped her right out of it.
“Just go, you’ll see,” she says when I call her. I can hear her crunching toast and sipping tea.
“And while you’re there check out the stainless-steel kettles for me.”
“What do you need a kettle for? Don’t you have a saucepan?”
“You’re starting to sound like Ghandi,” she says. "Unemployment will do that to you."
“Why don’t you come with me? I need moral support,” I suggest.
“Can’t. Gotta work today.”
“Where?” I ask. She’d been out of work since January when all the temp
work dried up.
“Landscaping” she says, “Okay, weeding, really, at the Botanical Gardens. At least it’s outdoors.”

After we hang up, I feel the job envy creeping over me. How come I can’t get a job weeding? What’s wrong with me? I call my friend Donna. She’d just opened a baking business. I was hoping she’d offer me work but I was afraid to ask because I knew nothing about baking and didn’t especially want to learn. I tell her I’m going to Ikea to look for magazine files for Linda’s cycling magazines.
“You’ll want a gun,” she says. She’d gone to Ikea in search of partitions for her office space. “It’s like Dante’s Inferno. Endless circles of hell. Kids bouncing on beds, sliding through holes in walls. You’ll get lost in living room displays for days.”
I can hear her hitting the keyboard on her computer in sharp, fierce strokes. She hates the computer as much as I hate shopping.
“Well, it’s not like I have much else going on right now,” I add hoping she’ll pick up on the unemployment fumes wafting off of me.
“Yeah, that’s true,” she agrees. "Hey, I need a muffin pan. See if you can find one of those large ones. I’ll pay you later. “

I drive my pickup down 80 toward the Shellmound exit. Large yellow and blue flags flap in the freeway breeze. I make a right on “Ikea Entry” and park. It is 10:30. If I shop for two hours, I calculate, by the time I get home it’ll be time to go to the grocery store to shop for dinner. My day will be filled in a healthy, productive, economy-boosting fashion.
“Excuse me, please,” an urgent voice comes from behind as I approach the sliding glass doors to the Ikea entrance. A woman pushes a shopping cart about the size of Kentucky past me. A skinny kid stands in the front of the cart and leans his body forward like a hood ornament.

To be continued

5 comments:

Ippoc Amic said...

...even though I already read it years ago...I can't wait to read part 2

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

like candy.

velogirl said...

suspense.....such a tease!

X Bunny said...

pabs been looking at ikea catalogs a little too much lately

PAB said...

actually, pab has been blowing pieces of his burrito all over the gawdang computer screen cus he's laughing so hard reading this!

uh, pab does want to hear more about ikea, though...