Forty Minutes at Ikea

A few years back, Sheryl and I moved our bedroom from downstairs back to the original man level master. When we first adopted the boys, they slept in the back bedroom, right next to us. I never liked sleeping with the kids so close.  I never really relaxed and every noise had me wondering if one of them was awake, needing help. Both boys would talk and walk in their sleep, which was discomforting for parents who did not get the first seven years to learn the ins and outs of how children grew and developed. I was always surprised when one of them would be mumbling by my bedside at 3 in the morning. Moving downstairs seemed to slow those instances.

I am a selfish person and I wanted an office for writing, so we banished the boys to the basement and Sheryl and I took over the upstairs rooms. To make myself feel less mean, I also brought along my music collection, giving that side of the basement to the kids for homework and internet use.  A small basement flood had warped the bottom of my old CD racks, giving me the chance to upgrade to better stuff. We found some perfect replacements at Ikea. Tall and full of space, I went from almost five bookcases to under two and a half.

I didn’t stop buying music. Last week, I realized I had enough music to fill the last bookcase, and most likely the first shelf or two of another. It was time to venture back to Ikea. Saturday afternoon around 5, we walked in the front door. Usually, we like to take our time and wander the isles, looking at the displays, often finding ideas or products we like. This time, we had been out and about most of the day and both of us were tired.  I took the initiative, and just walked straight to the storage shelving area. A quick once through failed to locate the item I wanted, so I went to the first fine employee I could find. Apparently he worked in desks, and though he was right at a inventory computer, my inquiry about the shelf was met with, “that product is over in that department.” And a point to the storage shelving I had just perused. Well that was certainly helpful. Let me go over there, fine sir.

I saw a young woman who was metaphorically chained to the storage shelves area and asked her if they still carried the shelf I wanted. She walked to the rear of the department and checked the inventory. Sadly, that product was discontinued, though she did try and find a suitable replacement.  Everything they were selling was too short to be a perfect relpacement, but we did find something we could live with.

Off to the self service area, and let me remind you if you have forgotten-self service is exactly what it is. We easily located what we needed and were making our way towards the check out area when I remembered I also needed some shelf pins for a last remaining shelf I had in the closet at home.  Two yellow shirted fellows were wandering about, putting discarded or misplaced merchandise away. I approached one and asked him about the shelf pins. “Ask in as is.” was his mumbled response. I tried to imagine working for Ikea and being unable to move from my designated work station. I looked fruitlessly around the yellow shirted ruffian for some device that would set off alarms, or maybe explode if he wandered too far afield. It must have been cleverly hidden as all I saw were bad tribal tattoos, skinny legs and a really terrible haircut.

Off to the ‘as is’ area. Here, I rang a doorbell for service and then asked another young man for some shelf pins. He returns with one in his hand and I think to myself finally, I have found not only what I wanted, but an employee who helped find it! Nope. He hands me the first pin and says, “Here’s one. You can rummage through that pile of extra hardware for some more.” I turned to see five or twenty drawers filled with screws, dowels, pins, plugs, twisty things, plastic odds and ends tossed together in no describable order. I looked back at this kid, thinking to myself, “seriously, you couldn’t just grab three more while you were already back there,” but he was already gone. Ikea is a busy place.

I rummaged, then rummaged some more. So many interesting tidbits, and after a bit, I found three more fantastic pins and could make my way to check out (by the way, they wanted three dollars a bag for random hardware, any guesses on how much I paid).

Before continuing, I want to say that I enjoy self check out  at most stores, most of the time. It is often faster and very convenient when you only have a few items. It is however, not convenient when everyone in line has multiple large items and seem unable to manage the machines. Ikea had one non self service station open on a Saturday afternoon, where one frazzled cashier was trying her best to move the line along. Meanwhile, five to seven other employees ran back and forth from one self service station to another, editing prices, changing quantities, controlling lines, and in many cases, checking out each and every item for confused shoppers. The one plus-Each of these workers actually seemed to enjoy their jobs, or at least were able to put on a pleasant smile. While they were the most busy of the Ikea family I encountered, they were the most helpful, going out of their way to help each other and all the crazy people who were obviously struggling with the check out process.

This entire shopping excursion took 40 minutes and was by far the most unpleasant experience I have ever had at Ikea. I hope this is just an anomaly and not the new trend of service I will get. The merchandise would certainly not be worth the effort if that became the norm.


About Ryan Carty

There are some who call me, Tim?

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