Ikea is not for the faint-of-heart in any instance. The lines; the cart-only escalator; the miles and miles of lamps, bowls, desks, linens and things-you-didn’t-know-you-needed can make anyone turn on her heels and head for the nearest mom-and-pop furniture store (are there any of those left?). And you really want to make Ikea a miserable shopping experience? Go by yourself.
Yesterday I was in the Ikea neighborhood and headed there for a desk. A simple desk. No drawer, no keyboard drop, no hutch. Essentially a tabletop with legs. Nothing too deep, nothing too long. Ikea had just the thing, I discovered via the Internet, and the price was right. I also wanted a small nightstand lamp, and we all know that Ikea can’t be beaten for cheap lighting.
So I went there. Alone. I think I was the only single person there.
First, it’s the choosing. To be honest, going to a grocery store post divorce was kind of weird too. I looked with sadness at the old people strolling the produce aisles holding hands. I couldn’t get used to buying food just because I wanted it. No reading labels to make sure it was suitable for Mr. Ex the vegetarian to eat. No thinking about what the kids would eat for lunch or what the family would share for dinner. Nope, just me. But I got over it. And, to be honest, there are always lots of alone people at the grocery store.
At the grocery story, though, it’s not like you see a bunch of people standing around discussing the relative merits of Gala apples over Honeycrisp.
Not Ikea. Everything at Ikea is a discussion. White table legs or silver? Red bowls or blue? And everywhere you look there are couples and families trying to figure out if it will fit, get home in the car and if it’s really that easy to put together.
And then there’s the pulling off the shelves and getting the item into the cart with nobody else to hold it steady. I bet you never appreciated that extra person before, right? Go ahead and do it yourself without looking like your cart was taken hostage by Candid Camera. Whoops – there it goes down the aisle while the divorced lady chases after it with a tabletop in her arms.
Then it’s the buying. They don’t bag at Ikea (they don’t even give you bags – you have to buy them now). They just take your money. And since most people use plastic in some way, they really just scan and give you a slip of paper with numbers on it. So you’re stuck bagging after you’ve paid, if you’re alone. While the people behind you stand tapping their feet because you’re now in their space.
Then there’s the dreaded holding area. The pickup zone (I don’t mean that in a good way). The leave-your-cart, get-your-car zone.
I may be overly suspicious, but I’m not happy about spending a lot of money for stuff and then leaving it alone so I can run and get the car. And I didn’t do it yesterday. Luckily I know I’m suspicious, so I planned ahead (I do that occasionally) and chose a parking space that was fairly convenient to the pickup zone. And my purchases weren’t that heavy (and, of course, I had my new, 59 cent Ikea bag), so I grabbed them out of the cart and carried them to the car myself. And even got the 48-inch tabletop in the trunk first try.
All-in-all, it was a pretty miserable shopping experience. The exciting news is that I got the purchases home and managed to put everything together from the no-words, goofy pictures instructions.
But I’m not excited to do it again any time soon.