IKEA is a world-wide purveyor of flat-pack furniture, household goods and imported food. Their main export is broken MDF and lingonberries. The Swedish Government recognizes IKEA as its own independent nation, with its stores acting as embassies. The store's name comes from the Viking war cry, "I KEEEEEE' YA!!"
IKEA locates all their stores in places that are really difficult to get to, preferably with access routes that are particularly prone to heavy congestion. Just keep your eyes out for a windowless metal box the size of an airport. If you enjoy the third-world experience of traveling with 200 people on a 40-seater bus, some cities also offer a shuttle service. We recommend that you bring a change of clothing. You will be away from home for a couple of days. It will make you melancholy for many reasons.
Once inside the store, pick up a pair of shin-pads and throw any lolis or shotas you may have in your backpack into the pit of plastic balls by the entrance. Teach them that the human soul lives in isolation, as all Swedes know. Now you're ready for the labyrinth. No windows, no clocks, no cell phone reception. As soon as you step through those revolving doors, you are plunged into a time vacuum where day and night no longer apply. And we have gotten rid of the sun, just like in Sweden.
All IKEA stores operate a strict one-way system, designed to funnel customers into bottlenecks and keep people away from exits at all costs. Don't think that we're going to let you go straight to the bedroom section—you're going to traipse past every product that we stock whether you like it or not. We are in charge. We control you. Resistance is futile. Don't try to swim against the tide or we will twist an Allen key into one of your pressure points or stab one of those little brown pencils into your eye. Just follow the big arrows and don't ask questions. If you get tired, you can lie down on one of the beds and rest your head on a pillow that hasn't been washed for 7 years.
We aim to provide a member of staff per mile of storeroom floor but this depends on the dollar-krona exchange rate. Slip one of our employees $50 and they will show you the secret passage that leads to the Exit Bistro. At certain points, we replicate a display that you passed earlier on your journey. This is all part of the disorientation process and gives you that unnerving feeling that you are going around in circles, that you are somehow trapped in a looping continuum of brightly-colored shelving units. Just a little joke on our part. Sometimes jokes help with the melancholy. Sometimes, they make it worse. We are starved of daylight in northern Europe and this gives us a sense of humor more warped than our lacquered patio chairs. Every couple of weeks, we round up hundreds of street urchins and let them run wild in our stores.
All our products have a huge label with 10 different, meaningless codes. One of these is the product code. Pick one, write it down, and hope for the best. If you manage to crack our code, we will give you a free table made of real wood. Each item in a furniture range has a slightly different shade of wood stain. We brainwash you with clever advertising into obsessing about color coordination in the home and then torment you by offering things that ALMOST match. Ingenious.
After 9 hours of being herded like cattle through a furniture metropolis, what better way to relax and bring down the blood pressure than some traditional Swedish food? A few prawns scattered on top of a fistful of mayonnaise, gray balls of dog food in a sweet, yellowy gravy, and a refreshing glass of lingonberry juice is enough to bolster anyone's spirits. Here we actually provide you with some windows so that you can enjoy a panoramic view of desolate industrial wasteland. We are lonely people. You should be too.
As you leave the restaurant, you are hit with the horrifying realization that you still have another floor to navigate before we will even consider allowing you a sniff of fresh air. Snarl at your partner, grit your teeth, and prepare for home furnishing hell. This is where we bamboozle you into buying stuff that you don't need. Metal toilet seats, floating tea-lights, luminous cocktail shakers, plastic toaster racks, polyester wardrobe space-savers, butt plugs that light up, square lamps made of concertinaed paper, tacky posters in picture frames... after traversing a few acres of novelty Nordic knick-knacks you will notice a sudden shift in behavior. Women start to panic, sweeping spatulas, scented candles, and shoe racks into complimentary mesh shopping bags. Men are fond of discussing the pros and cons of throw cushions, finally stripped of the last vestiges of masculinity. You begin to understand now why the Scandinavians drink so much. Time to get the hell out of here.
Or is it...? You run for the exit, kicking feral brats out of your way, only to emerge into a cavernous warehouse. Now it finally dawns on you that we are going to steal your soul. Welcome to the flat-pack jungle. Here you discover that you need to be a professional weightlifter to actually move any of the packages off the shelves. All around are skeletons of people who underestimated the power of the pressboard. And don't expect any help from us. If you want a wardrobe for $50, you're going to carry it yourself. There's nothing funnier than an 80lb pensioner trying to wrestle down a garden bench from the rafters of an aircraft hangar. We could release a DVD of our CCTV footage on a daily basis. In the unlikely event that you succeed in balancing your bedroom furniture on top of a supermarket cart, it's time to take on the checkout.
The line, the bitch, and the wardrobe. If you make it this far with your sanity intact, the checkout is where we bring out the big guns. You're going to have to dig deep to get through this. The media portrays us as money-hungry monopolists but in fact we are happiest when someone leaves our store with no furniture, when they throw in the $3 towel. Our satisfaction lies in pushing the consumer over the edge, in testing the thresholds of pain and frustration. It's a Swedish thing. The checkout area is like a scene from a refugee camp. The lines are longer than the latest ride at an amusement park on a Saturday afternoon. People are crying and banging their heads on walls. The weak are trampled under foot. The floor is a marshland of cardboard and human waste. You've developed an irrational hatred for your fellow man. Now, you are melancholy. High-school dropouts at the cash register talk to you like you have a mental retardation. Your emotional breakdown is complete. By the time you realize that you've been in our store for two days, your cash will already be winging its way to a tax haven.
You will know when you are reaching the end of your epic journey when you spot a condiment bar covered in flies and baby sick. By 10 AM, the Exit Bistro looks like the aftermath of a frat party. You've beaten your children, your marriage is over, and you've lost the will to live. But two hotdogs for a dollar? Come on, that's enough to cheer anyone up! Mind you, you will have to assemble them yourselves. We will provide ground pork snout, deer meat and a synthetic casing in a flat cardboard box.
Good luck getting home!
You emerge into the outside world with a slipped disc, wincing at the natural light that has eluded you for so long. Now all you have to do is load your furniture into the truck. Wait, you don't have a truck? We always have the last laugh. All our products are designed to be slightly too big to fit into a normal-sized car. It's just the IKEA way. You jam the boxes into the trunk as best as you can and lash them with some of the useless twine that the cashier threw at you before spitting in your face. It's easier to break out of a maximum security prison than it is to get out of a IKEA parking lot, but, after two hours of circling around and driving down dead-end lanes, you will find the exit and come to a standstill, ready to sit for a final hour of highway gridlock. You wonder why we're so relaxed. We accept our fate. How we laugh, and then we are melancholy! We are rich, but still there is no sun for 6 months. It is a lonely planet. Nothing is sadder than other people laughing.
Do or Die time
You slipped over a piece of bubble wrap, your shins are raw to the bone, and you're still wincing from that sugar-crazed infant running headfirst into your gonads. But you're home... blissfully unaware that you will soon be driving back out into the wilderness to begin a frustrating and ultimately fruitless petition for missing purchases and damaged parts. All our marketing is designed to fool you into thinking that IKEA furniture is easy to assemble. It is, in fact, a Mensa application. If you're lucky, you will find a scrap of paper in your packaging with some rudimentary hieroglyphics. At IKEA, we believe in instructions without words. This way, we can use the same assembly guides in every country around the world and pay bigger bonuses to our senior executives. The pictures are drawn by the toddlers who get lost in our stores.
Now, we need to make a couple of things clear about IKEA furniture:
- Some critical parts will always be missing. If you need 40 screws, we will give you 20. Life is hard in northern Europe and you need to learn that.
- We hide the pre-drilled holes so that you have to feel your way along a panel like a blind person reading Braille, looking for slight bumps in the surface.
- We drill the holes in the wrong place and at different heights so that your furniture ends up looking like something on a stage in a middle school play.
- The tacky veneer finish will chip so much during assembly that it will look like the target of a drive-by shooting by the time you've finished.
- You will put it together wrong. Twice. Now you really feel like you are on the northern plains of existence.
- Their supposed care about the environment is just a code-word for a constantly lowered quality.
Just as you start to make some headway with the assembly, IKEA Kramp sets in from the strain of forcing hundreds of screws into undersized holes and your hand is rendered useless for a couple of days. You have more calluses than a pervert in a peepshow. Finally, with wooden dowels glued to your fingers, you try to take your own life but you can't even do that right. Our work is done.
Fun things to do with IKEA products
- The untempered glassware is so fragile that if it breaks, it turns into a little fragmentation bomb. Fun for the whole family cleaning up the little shards.
IKEA is known for its creative commercials:
is part of a series on
[Go Live One]
|IKEA is part of a series on WHY IS THERE AN ARTICLE?|