Can you imagine anything worse than being stuck in IKEA with no exit in sight? We can and we did.
We were there yesterday and I saw a grown woman with no children have to borrow a phone from a random stranger to call her husband – BECAUSE SHE WAS LOST. How hard can it be, right? It’s JUST a store. IKEA is JUST A STORE, right?
It’s easier if you mentally prepare for IKEA as though it were a labyrinth with no clear understanding whatsoever as to where the end might be. It will make for a better overall experience if you prepare for it like you would a hike. With snacks, water bottles, a cell phone charger, a micro cell tower and in some cases a sleeping bag for those of us who never make it out.
IKEA is tantalizing in every single way. It’s Target on STEROIDS. And just like Target, you walk through those sliding doors with a huge smile, an obsessive amount of optimism; and with head high and shoulders back, you march toward the start line ready to take IKEA on. Like a good conversationalist, IKEA is full of interesting topics to discuss. You find you and your husband saying “now that is an interesting way to organize clothes…” or “I really like how that TRANSFORMERS sofa bed folds out…” or “Do you think we need more throw pillows?” IKEA takes you to a whole other level than the life you live at home. At home we keep one or two pillows on our couches, at IKEA we need more, WAY more.
With hundreds of Ribba frames filled to the brim of your cart, you press on.
After you drift through all the living room space possibilities and arrangements, you start wondering if you they used a Rubix cube to inspire this store completely. Following the arrows lighting your way, you find yourself in Kitchen land – comparing back splashes and cabinets to your all-of-a-sudden lame and ugly ones at home. You start planning for a complete remodel.
Just looking at the kitchens makes your stomach rumble and then that little teeny tiny hunger monster slowly rears its ugly head. But you keep your game face on – you’re only half way in! Don’t show signs of weakness yet, especially knowing the swedish meatballs will certainly pop up soon. You take a deep breath in and PRAY for food to show up soon.
HALLELUJAH. The food appears for you AND for all one thousand of the other people who are there, too. So you keep walking. The line is too long. IKEA can figure out how to fit an entire bedspread into a thimble but they haven’t figured out hungry people quite yet. Grabbing a bag of swedish fish, you begin looking for the exit. I had what I came for. I got my dish rack and napkins and I’m ready to go home.
One problem: Can’t find the exit. Can’t find my husband.
But seriously, can’t find the exit.
And that is bad. It’s awful. You feel trapped, suffocated, angry, overtaken, played, like IKEA WANTED YOU TO GET LOST SO YOU WOULD SPEND MORE MONEY ON SWEDISH FISH FOR SURVIVAL. I wanted to cry. But that’s not really why.
There is something worse than being lost in IKEA with no exit in sight.
It’s having your two year old son with you. On a leash. Who is having a fit on the floor. With a leash attached to his back. And people walk by judging you (me) for both the tears AND the leash. And you are alone because your husband took the other two kiddos and is in another part of the store with his own leashed son and problems. And your phone has no service.
Instead of crying you stuff your mouth and your son’s mouth with swedish fish and pray for it to end.
And at some point, for no clear reason, only by some inexplicable act of God – you find your way out. Alive.
Here’s the thing: the next day you wake up to a new day. You stumble down to the kitchen where your new IKEA dish rack looks wonderful and the new napkins you almost lost your life for are ready to be used. And you smile.
Going to IKEA is a lot like childbirth. PAINFUL, PAINFUL, PAINFUL. But then you come home with your precious new, adorable napkins and soon, in time, you forget the pain and you go back.
But this time, with a compass.