Right. Let’s get back to power tools.
My new house is small and rather poorly equipped and in order to accommodate my books and all the other stuff with which I surround myself, I am obliged to put up shelves, perform some necessary repairs and put up a new kitchen cabinet. To this end, and with the help of ‘Sean’ the rather scrumptious Southern Irish manifestation of my SatNav, The Boys and I set sail for Ikea in Coventry.
When we arrived, we thought we’d start by finding the cafe and having a drink and a biscuit to fortify us on our quest for cheap, mass-produced, flat-packed items. We were herded into a fenced off queueing area such as one might see at a livestock market at the end of which was a long counter with food of various kinds. We were instructed to take a tray and a mug or glass for our drink and make our choices.
This should have been simple but it just wasn’t; where would I get tea? At what point should I pay for it? How much was anything? It turned out we had to pay for our drink before we actually got it, then go to another shelf where we picked the tea from a bush on the next floor, milked a cow then proceeded to the nearest steel plant to press out our own spoons. Then, and only then, could we have the longed for cup of tea and an, admittedly tasty, slice of apple cake.
Just be aware that at this point we have not even ventured onto the shop floor. I decided to try to get my kitchen cabinet before I did any browsing in the Market Place – always do the Work first – and found a pleasant looking man to help me. I described exactly what I wanted, showed him the dimensions by stretching my arms out to the required width, picked my cupboard door and prepared to get my stuff. But oh no, it couldn’t possibly be that simple. First I had to go to some enormous shelves to find the cabinet and load it onto my trolley. Then I had to go back to the man at the service desk and get a chitty for the door that I could take to the till and pay for and thence to the Customer Collection Area to collect the door.
This was a complete pain but about 20 minutes later I was at the Customer Collection desk with …… the wrong door. This meant, of course, that I also had the wrong cupboard. A terse conversation with the retard behind the desk revealed how I was going to spend the next hour of my life.
I put the children into the Play Area after managing to convince the woman behind the desk that Boy the Elder was only ten (when he is well on the way to being 13 – “mmmm – very tall for his age”) and proceeded in the general direction of Customer Services. Here I had to explain my problem to another half-wit who eventually refunded my money and sent me back to the shop floor to select the proper cabinet. Except that I suddenly realised that in order to do this I would have to go back to the main entrance and go right round the entire shop to get back to the department which was a tantalising 20 yards away behind a row of tills that was protected by gun emplacements and searchlights.
I went into Mad Woman Mode. I put my arms in the the air and said in a very loud voice to the many, many lines of people, “I have lost the will to live and I can feel my life force ebbing away . I have been in this shop for over three months now and I cannot face going right the way round this massive store just to get to those shelves 20 yards away. Please let me through before I start crying!”.
It was like tha parting of the Red Sea – some people laughing, others backing away nervously – and I pushed my trolley straight through to the kitchen cabinet district (left bank). I collected the cabinet, paid for it, queued to collect the door, picked up the children and left. We were the last out.
If anyone from Ikea is reading this, may I make a suggestion? When customers come in through the door, ask them if they’ve ever visited an Ikea before. If the answer is no, whisk them off to a training area where they are given a short induction course in The Way of the Swede. If they refuse, hand them a leaflet which has a map of the store and instructions on how to use the cafe and how to purchase tricky items. Failing this, a meditation room with soft lights and pan pipes might be in order. And perhaps a punch bag. Or better still, the presentation of a GCSE in Retail Exploration. Only a matter of time……