What is the worst thing that can happen to you?
- “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, this is the Captain speaking. For those on the left hand side of the aircraft, you may be wondering why the wing just fell off…”
- “Insurance policy??”
- “No officer, I would never drive under the influence of alcohol, I’m way too stoned to be drinking”.
None of those. The worst thing that can happen to you is a trip to Ikea.
It doesn’t matter what country you are in, Ikea stores are all the same. For me, it usually starts off OK, I’m a bit nervous, of course. But winding my way past clocks and coat hangers doesn’t seem so terrible. Then seemingly without warning, I suddenly find myself too far in. Beds and fluffy toys behind me, shelving, picture frames and kitchenware ahead. You can’t go back, the big arrows on the floor demand you go further inside the belly of the beast. Like a soldier, lost in a Vietnamese tunnel complex circa 1968, there is no escape. In you go, hoping for the best, but expecting the worst.
If you visit Ikea on a Saturday, well, you just deserve everything you get. Just you, and 45 million other people marching along the arrowed path like Snow White’s dwarfs – except everyone is grumpy and no one is singing.
And then it happens. I survive the ‘shock and awe’ of the store layout. I manage to purchase a TV stand with an unpronounceable Swedish name, (why Borgsjö? Why can’t it just be “white TV cabinet”?) Then several days later, it gets delivered. Hold on – it doesn’t look like a TV cabinet, it looks too flat? Surely…you don’t mean…? Oh, you do!
The little sticker delivers the sucker punch: “assembly required”.
Happily, this is where my wife steps in. She is the engineer in our family. I helped her with an Ikea bookcase once – and snapped half-a-dozen little wooden pegs inside the first 10 seconds. She doesn’t ask me to help anymore.
So here it is. Ikea, the stores that make you wind around absolutely everything inside the store before they let you out. The store that makes you assemble the product you paid for. Can you imagine this: Head into the local pizza place. They make you look at the lasagna and the parmigiana, even though all you are there for is a pizza. Then when you plead that you just want the medium ham and pineapple, they hand you a lump of dough, a can of pineapple, a packet of ham and shove you out the door.