Friday, September 29, 2006

Ikea -- part three

Who would understand that it has taken me so long to find three items? I waste too much time; that’s my problem. I suddenly want out of Ikea immediately. I think I see a way out and head in that direction. I don’t need magazine holders, a kettle or muffin tins. I am almost to the opposite side of the floor when I encounter a large blinking yellow button on the wall and pause to look at it.

A woman’s recorded voice, soothing as a surgical nurse as she puts you under, asks, “In the dark about the best way to light the home?” A small boy holding a sucker stops to listen also. He reaches up with short sticky fingers to touch the button but his father yanks him away. I press the button; lights flicker at different intensities in the small showroom, highlighting different areas.

“See how important lighting is,” the woman’s voice says. “An overall wash of light helps you get ready for the day. In the bedroom, the right light helps you select clothes in the morning. In the office, the perfect light makes the job easier.”

I haven’t replaced the dead light bulb in my bedroom closet for months and yet my fingers twitch. They want to touch the yellow button. I want to see the lights flash again. Get out! a voice inside shouts. Get on with your life!

I take the stairs down to the “Market Place.” I tell myself, I will look one last time for my three items and if I can’t find them I will leave. I will stay focused on what I need, what I came to Ikea for. I pass crates of picture frames, multi-colored plastic trash cans, clear plastic storage boxes. I pause by a heaping pile of plastics bags containing small white candles in metal cups. “100 Pack Tea lights” the sign next to them reads. I pause and pick up a bag. The candles are small and delicate, like little silver disks. I imagine tea lights placed all around my room glimmering softly as I fall off to sleep and burn down the apartment.

I find myself next to a multilevel display of can openers. Hundreds of them. I pick up one. It’s sleek and efficient looking without all the goo and hardened cat food in the metal parts - $5.95. Do I need a can opener? I consider. Ours looks like something found on the ocean floor with the Titanic, all rusted with immovable parts. But I haven’t come for a can opener, I remind myself. Still wouldn’t it be nice to open a can of cat food without dislocating a shoulder? I should never have come to Ikea. I lack the strength of character, the mental fortitude. There are simply too many choices. As I stand considering whether to invest in a can opener, I notice an orange sign up ahead. “Be Yourself -- Ikea”, it reads.

People always tell you this -- be yourself, like that will solve everything. But what if yourself wasn’t so hot? What if you were missing a few nuts and bolts. What if all the pieces didn’t fit together just right. What then Ikea? I am so tired of all the thinking. I drop the can opener into my empty yellow Ikea bag and move forward.

I scan the Ikea horizon for someone who doesn’t appear lost. I spot a woman employee in a green smock in the center of the room. I walk over to where she stands. She’s looking through a catalogue of merchandise and filling out a form. She doesn’t appear to notice me. I shift a little to my right to align myself with her eyeballs should she care to look up.

“Excuse me, please. Can you help me?” I ask after a few moments.
“One moment,” she says holding up one index finger towards me. I notice the pad on the finger is wide and flat as if she’s been pressing buttons all her life. I check my watch. It’s almost twelve-thirty and I have -- what? -- a can opener.

She flips through a catalog shakes her head, crushes up the form she’s been filling out and tosses it into the garbage can at her feet.
“My first day,” she says.
"They’re the worst,” I say, although I wouldn’t mind a first, a second or even a last day on any job right now. I ask her where I might find magazine files, muffin tins and kettles.

“Well,” she says tugging on her smock, stalling for time. She looks left,
then right.
“How about we try down here,” she suggests at last and turns left. We head toward a room full of big, leafy plants, clay pots and patio furniture and wander through rows of shelves stacked high with boxes. A man driving a forklift beeps for us to get out of his way. I hear cash registers up ahead. I check my watch. I consider finding someone else with more experience. Finally, she leads me back to where I started almost two hours ago at the top of the escalator and points to a stack of wooden magazine files.

“How could I have missed them?” I shake my head. There’s stacks of the
unfinished cheaply constructed files for $5.99 a piece.
“Can’t see for looking I guess,” she says.

I think she’s as happy to have found them as I am. I pick one up and examine it. I can see right away it’s too small for Linda’s magazines. In fact it’s not what I had in mind at all. I’m so tired of dead-ends and circles. I follow the arrows to the registers with my can opener.
“Just this,” the cashier asks reaching for a plastic bag.
“Just that,” I answer. “No bag.”

In the parking lot, shoppers force boxes into trunks that are too small. I open the door, toss my can opener on the passenger seat and head to the grocery store. Tonight we're having soup, canned soup.


Ippoc Amic said...

you still don't have a light in the closet...4 years

PAB said...

about that magazine rack.....

we don't get velosnooze. in fact we don't get any magazines at all.

but for some reason, our coffee table is covered in magazines. All normal sized, mind you.

So, if you don't mind, could I please have a brief description of the $5.99 magazine racks?

Olaf Vanderhoot said...


Velo Bella said...


perfect way to spend the first evening home since Vegas...slightly drunk and reading your hilarious Ikea story

marscat said...

PAB: flimsy cheap ass things...price is pure fiction.

OV: huh?

VB: welcome home! and you are breaking some rule about blogging and drinking i think

Eclectchick said...

Aw, darn. The Ikea story has ended. (sigh)

Well, you bought one item more than the hubby and I did on our first and only visit to Ikea. The place is spooky.

Wild Dingo said...

thanks for taking my mind off of not sleeping at 2 am this morning! btw: my comment was about "me" being unemployed, and how my husband can tell you at how talented i am at it! he likes to say i just tinker on my computer all day. but if you called getting paid to tinker as unemployed, then that's me! love this story!

velogirl said...

coffee tables.....I want one. my mother didn't have a coffee table in the house because she was afraid we'd fill it up with magazines and stuff. she was a neat freak. we had one magazine rack but the magazines were all old (American Legion, AARP news, Better House & Garden) -- no one ever read them and no one ever threw them out. I think they were just props to make us feel normal.

PAB said...

there is no such thing as normal.