my boyfriend, axel, and i went to ikea the other day to pick up a new desk and some household whatnot... on a saturday... not such a great plan. in fact, it was really quite stupid, as it seemed that all of stuttgart and the surrounding villages, towns, and communities had also decided to descend upon the same ikea at that precise moment. you know that a shopping experience is about to go horribly wrong when you get pissed off in the parking lot... and seriously - what designer decided that it would be such a wonderful idea to design an ikea the size of an entire shopping mall and then provide 100 parking spaces (if that)? somebody should get a gold star for that one.
i am not typically bothered by crowds. actually, most of the time, i am really quite amused by them (i love people-watching). ikea, on the other hand, is like a claustrophobic phenomenon. i had the same experience when i went there with my friend, anja, to buy my furniture when i first moved here in september - it's like the place is a vortex that just endlessly keeps sucking people in. one finds that their path is blocked my numerous groups of people-discussing-furniture-choices everywhere. one finds that people get extremely aggressive if it takes them an extra 5 seconds to reach the object of their desire. one also finds that the closer one gets to the cashier, the more obnoxious, rude, and self-important people become... no joke - perfectly courteous and good-natured people turn into monsters before they reach the check-out counter... such is the power of ikea.
of all of the treasures of human behavior and failures of design we observed that day, my favorite incidents occurred as we were attempting to leave the store...
episode no. 1 - so, as one could easily imagine, looking through endless choices of furniture and knick-knacks for 4 hours can cause a person to work up a serious appetite. the brilliant people at ikea have put a cafeteria right after the cashier's stations. the hot dogs (and i am normally not a fan of the processed mystery meat) are delicious, and the ice cream is devilishly tasty. only one problem ... the eating area, complete with tables to stand at while one consumes their junk food salvation, is a wee bit small. it would be a tight area if it were just full of people... but noooooooo, it is transformed into an impossibly tight space full of people, their junk food, and their carts. it was a frustrating situation while i was attempting to eat, but i have to be honest and say that once i stepped back to admire the scene once we were through, i found it hilarious. imagine if you will: 30 or so people - cheeks puffed, everyone looking quite unhappy, 20 carts bursting at the seems with god-knows-what, all crammed into something around 30 square feet... the result? pure, ridiculous joy.
episode no. 2 - we purchased a desk... said desk could not be found in the main ikea pick-up area. instead, the item was to be picked up at the ikea warehouse... 20 meters away. the objects people retrieve from the warehouse are typically large and fairly heavy... but the funny thing about this particular warehouse was that the loading zone was full of overflow cars from the teeny, tiny little ikea parking lot (see my note about that, above)... thus, no loading-zone-parking. so, we drove the car 20 meters to pick up the desk, only to have to drive another 20 meters away to find another parking space. then, to top it all off, the desk wouldn't fit in the car with all of the other things that we had in there - so we had to unload and repack in the middle of the street.
i. hate. shopping.