Sunday, January 13, 2008

Scandinavian Furniture, BUT AT WHAT COST???

From the archives:

Ikea is a four-letter word.

Explanation: This was posted on a Monday morning. The previous weekend, I thought it would be a good idea to go to Ikea to buy some nice inexpensive Scandinavian furniture for my new town house in Poughkeepsie. The nearest Ikea was in Paramus, New Jersey. So, Jim (who also is big into inexpensive Scandinavian furniture) and I hopped into my truck on Sunday morning to make the hour and fifteen minute drive down there. When we got there, we realized a very important detail that we had overlooked. Everything in Bergen County is closed on Sundays. Oops. Instead of writing off the trip as a complete failure, we managed to meander another 45 minutes or so to the Ikea in Elizabeth, only to discover that they were having a weekend sale.

Allow me to digress for a moment and describe a few different types of crowds I have experienced in my life:

Times Square at Rush Hour: Rush hour in New York City is unique. Take a giant island, put 10 million people there, let them all out at 5:00pm and watch them scurry in a million different directions. Everyone is going somewhere, and everyone is in a hurry. And even worse, everyone is going to a different somewhere. It's total chaos. Now, create a bizarre intersection like Times Square and it gets even more confusing. But that's not all! Now intersperse a few thousand tourists who don't speak English and have no idea where they are going. Oh, the joy! Whenever you combine thousands of people in a hurry with thousands of people who have no idea where they are going, it just isn't pretty.

A Football Game Has Ended at RFK Stadium: My memory is a little shaky on the actual distance, but as I recall, RFK stadium is located about a third of a mile from a Metro station. When a football game ends there, thousands of people depart the stadium and head directly to the station. In this type of crowd you have a very large number of people all hurriedly heading in the same direction. The problem is that there are a limited number of trains at the end of this mass of humanity, and if you don't hurry, you're stuck in the station until next week, or longer if there's another home game. Nobody can hurry fast enough. I may have plowed through a dozen or so people on an escalator that day - it's all a little fuzzy.

The Wegman's Grand Opening: Our local Wegman's grocery store opened last year. In the three years since I had been in the area, there had been a giant Wegman's sign in front of the shopping center, but the store hadn't finished construction. The public was dying to get in there. They wanted their big fancy grocery store, and it turned out to be bigger and fancier than they had possibly believed. So, they all came. All of them. By sheer luck, our local pharmacist had been bought out by Wegman's and had moved into the new store. Wouldn't you know it, we had to go pick up a prescription that day. If you have ever been in a grocery store with thousands of people in it, I'm sorry. The place is jam packed. Everyone has a giant grocery cart. Everyone is stopping to look at everything. It's a traffic nightmare.

Bourbon Street on New Year's Eve: This was the most dense crowd I have ever been in... and not just because there were Texas Longhorn fans there. We were there right after the Sugar Bowl ended and there were areas of the street where the crowd would just carry you from one place to the other. You could stop moving your feet and the crowd would just drag you. Having experienced it, I know what it must be like for those people who get caught in human stampedes. It's pretty scary.

Now, back to Ikea. If you've ever been in an Ikea, there is only one path through the store. You get on the path and follow the arrows, and ultimately you find yourself back in the parking lot, full of Sweedish meatballs and $600 poorer, with a new sunroom for your house packed neatly in a 5x5x1 box that weighs 700 pounds. It's simple and it works, and I had always remembered it as being a neat experience.

That all changes when Ikea has a sale. There are thousands of people in the store. They wander around with total disregard to the arrows on the floor. Their children are untended to and running amok - in fact, I think people just leave their children there for the day and noone notices. Nobody speaks English. People are rude to you in languages you'll never understand. Manners are left in the parking lot. No, check that. Manners are left at the entrance to the parking lot. The parking lot resembled the mall parking lot at Christmas time, only less friendly.

It was an insane crowd. Take the four crowds I have described above and combine them... only lose the stampede and the drunken partiers. OK, just combine the first three crowds and add some Longhorn fans. I'd rather be in the stampede - at least I was drunk and happy.

I didn't buy anything that day at Ikea. I just had to get out of the store. I had to get out of the parking lot. I had to get away. It was hell. Sheer hell. It took me the entire drive home to return to normalcy. That was five years ago and I haven't been back to Ikea since.

Special Blog Bonus: Irregular Webcomic forever earned my love with this comic the other day:

Have a happy Ikea-free weekend.

1 comment:

Heather said...

Was there not something in the news about someone moving into an IKEA?