Boxed in by the big box box

I have just made my first and last venture into IKEA.  Not again, not in this lifetime.  It scared me.  Now, I am a home improvement and cabinet geek, so this ought to be my kind of place, right?  And it was, for twenty minutes. I looked at their cabinet designs, even got a couple of ideas.  Then, I tried to leave.

God help me, I tried to leave.  And I tried, and I tried.  I followed the signs which said “SHORTCUT TO EXIT”, at least five of them, which all were simply direct paths to the next department.  I could not have gotten my bearings in that place if Magellan had been shopping with me.  A Navy SEAL team could not have extracted me.  I saw the kitchen cabinet department voluntarily and every other department involuntarily.  I had been dropped down the rabbit hole of ParticleBoardLand, trapped in a live-action game of Chutes and Ladders which was all chutes and no ladders.  IKEA is the Hotel California of retail.  (“You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave…”)

I saw it all: a labyrinth of plasticrockery and Eurocrap melamine quadrilaterals, all quite cheap and worth every penny.  Dining rooms, living rooms, bedrooms, kids’ rooms, bathrooms, all reduced to flat-stacking cardboard packets.  (When the in-store advertising of a furniture store trumpets their technical triumphs in designing furniture to most efficiently fit the corrugated shipping container, I know I have fallen into some weird alternative universe.)  The cabinets look like the armoires which look like the bureaus which look like the tables which look like the chairs.  If the Oompa-Loompas were furniture, this is what they would be. Only without the charm.  It was as though every trace of organic life had been intentionally eradicated from the entire establishment.  Compared to IKEA, the Death Star in Star Wars was a fern bar.

IKEA even has its own version of IKEA FutureWorld, called the AS IS department, where you can, for fifty percent off, buy your stuff pre-deteriorated.  No need to wait for this kitschy chipboard junk to start coming apart after it has been in your home a few weeks, you can get the end result now, for less.  Debris-to-be, dirt cheap.  Supplies are limited, folks, this stuff is flying off the shelves.

IKEA turned out to be sort of a nihilistic post-apocalyptic vision of shopping for your home.  Sort of Home Depot meets Dante, circa 1984.  Come in, and leave your sense of direction at the door.  Just follow the path.  We will guide you.  No need to see out, or even around the corner.  You need know nothing about your surroundings.  Like the old “Outer Limits” intro, “We have taken control…”   Pick out your future home surroundings from our selection of a thousand similar rectangular boxes in nine different colors.  Do not deviate from the meandering path; if you attempt to do so, we will redirect you so that you will still pass through every single department from which we wish you to select.  Resistance is futile. You may not leave to have a snack or for lunch; here is our cafeteria, please refresh yourself and get back to the task we have given you.  Soon, you will have accumulated enough bits of plastic jimcrackery and pull-tags and we will swipe your card.  Stop at our Bistro for a fifty-cent hot dog and a dollar soda. Then, your blood sugar should have recovered enough to enable you to stagger with your heavy paper-wrapped slabs across the parking lot.

Please wait for your higher cognitive functions to re-engage before entering traffic in the outside world again.

No more IKEA for me.  I have become too accustomed to independent thought and freedom of action to enter that soulless maze of proletarian furnishings ever again.


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