IKEA Adventures

I had my first IKEA experience last week. Normally that would not be worth a blog post but when does anything normal make it to the blog? This is after all an adventure in observing the nearly normal, usually half-a-bubble-off happenings. Now I are not a shopper, like many males I do not have the shopping gene. Recently, however, I have observed that there are shoppers and there are closet shoppers. There are people, my friends among them, who do not have shopper in their DNA but they do have consumer hard-wired somewhere. I think its the nature/nurture thing or maybe just advertising propaganda.

Not me. I really find commercial outings distasteful, plus I have really been divesting for the past decade. But I needed a bed, with my bad back and the newly remodeled apartment, I just had to bite the Discover card and buy a bed. After some online research and a bewildering array of sales that seem to go on 24/7 and 365, I decided to try the land of unfinished Scandinavian excess. So I went to the local IKEA in Emeryville with the intention of buying a bed and only a bed. 

I put on my best anthropologist demeanor, prepared to observe the purchasing rituals of the americanus consumerosis, but I should have been better prepared. Like all wide-eyed field researchers I went into the wild unprepared with even the simplest of equipment. First of all, who would have thought that I needed a map . . .

I had no warning. My colleagues who are not shoppers have, as I, never been to the land of IKEA. Those who have had an IKEA experience thought nothing of allowing a virgin ikeadite to venture out alone. I think they were probably getting back at me for the time I told them it was OK to get the ground beetle ceviche in Honduras. Also probably why no one told me to "try the meatballs" while I was waiting in one of the many lines I encountered at IKEA.

Now less you think I was swallowed by the whale of housewares, I will tell you that I left the land of blue and yellow with only a purchase receipt for a bed, a mattress and a delivery invoice for the following day. Had that been it, as they say, you would not be reading this blog post. But no. After locating the bedroom corner of the IKEA wilderness and ferreting out the order form and golf pencil ritual; not to mention the local knowledge that the "bed" display room is different than the "mattress" room. Confident that I had followed the unwritten rules and traditions, I made my selection and communicated with a less than eager staffer in something I call Ikean English value added dialect. There was some walkie-talkie communication with someone in the warehouse which contained idiomatic expressions I could not decipher and hence the later to be revealed cultural clash.

No I ordered slacks and a table cloth.

The next day my mattress was delivered but not my slated platform base, instead I got two king box spring units, not my order. I called the IKEA hotline, got a real person with no accent, she understood the problem, quickly got me a return order reference number but we jointly decided I had better go back to the store and get the correct item code on the slated platform base. So I returned for part two of my IKEA adventure, found my way to the bed section, not the mattress room and discovered the secret hidden slated bed base code (Sultan Laxeby 001.259.72). I then proceeded to the customer service desk as instructed, only to find there is no customer service desk. Three blue&yellow consultations later, having visited the Information Kiosk, the Information Desk and finally the Return Room, I found a helpful person, who had to leave the Return Room to consult with the delivery manager who advised her to advise me that since I already had a apparently precious return order reference number . . . they would call me to arrange for a pick-up and delivery of my desired product.

This is where my IKEA adventure stands today, no call yet, mattress on the floor, slated platform bed base lingering in some cold, sterile warehouse awaiting the third act appropriately titled: Some Assembly Required.

UPDATE (3/29): Five days now and another long phone conversation initiated by me, I now await the alleged return call to schedule the exchange and new delivery.

UPDATE (3/30): Call came this morning. Delivery tomorrow, wonder if this time we got it right.

UPDATE (3/31): Nope, still haven't got all the parts I thought I had ordered.

UPDATE (4/1): Made a third trip to IKEA, vowed never to return and now need to get a friend to visit and help me put all the pieces together.