Wednesday, September 14, 2011

To Hell and Back

"You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave." -The Eagles, Hotel California

Hell hath a Swedish name.

I know that because I've survived it. Stared the devil right in the face... twice in my life. Never again.

Is it hot in here?
I am talking about IKEA. Land of cheap chic furniture and certainly one of the nine circles of hell.

What's worse, I brought my daughter on my most recent - and final - trip. Exposed her to the evil. She very nearly became a victim. One of the damned.

After my first trip - when my wife and I first moved in together, way back when she was my girlfriend, we needed an entertainment center and some other stuff for our new roach motel of an apartment - I vowed  never to return again.


My sister asked me to do her a favor. She and my brother-in-law needed some tables for the business they're opening. I agreed purely out of love and loyalty.

I put the trip to IKEA on my itinerary one day when I was at home alone with the Peanut. My stay-at-home friends tell me that planning errands is a good way to pass the time. It's also a good way to lose your mind.

IKEA, one of the nine circles of hell. With a four year-old. You know the trick to IKEA, right? The walking...  from the parking lot to the entrance... from the entrance to the section you're looking for... from there to the checkout.

In hell, they make you walk... a lot. Through the entire store, in fact.

On said walk, we made a pit stop in children's furniture so the Peanut could play. Apparently in hell, there is also a children's play area.

Then, more walking... through the warehouse... through the part of the store with all of the houseware tchotchkes (pronounced, "CHACH-keys")... please just let me check out.

Even after you do, you have to walk to the pick-up area and wait for them to get your order from the warehouse through which you just walked.

Are things this annoying in Sweden? Seems like such a nice place.

Our boxes finally came. I'm wheeling them out of the store on a big industrial-sized dolly. Wait a minute, though. Dude, where's my car? On the other side of the building, of course... near the entrance. In fact, it's on a whole other floor for crying out loud. Hell, I tell you.

In one of the nine circles of hell, you can't expect anything to be easy.

I make the decision to stash the boxes on the dolly in a corner of the parking garage and get the car.

Exhausted and exasperated, I carry the Peanut, who has been done with the walking and waiting for what seems like eons. In hell, times goes by very slowly.

I locate the car. I go to put her in her seat and realize... "Where's Lammie?" Oh my God are we going to be those people who lose their child's cherished play thing? (That's not a blog I ever want to write.)

I ask her again. In the second it takes her to answer I remember the Peanut putting Lammie in my pocket to carry as she played in the children's furniture section. Did she fall out of my pocket there? Or somewhere else? Her world - our world - was shattering around us.

I make a huge parenting mistake and shout, "What do you mean you don't know where Lammie is?! She's lost! We may never find her again!" Huge. Fail. I allowed hell to get the better of me.

Panic sets in. The Peanut is now crying frantically, mostly because of me. I am whipping the car in and out of parking garages like I'm a character in Grand Theft Auto. I open the back door to the minivan and throw in the boxes. I park, grab the Peanut, and we backtrack. (Remember, a lot of walking in one of the nine circles of hell.)

Peanut is now screaming. No Lammie in the parking lot. We enter the store near the checkout. No sign of her there either. I am running towards the pickup area while still carrying my hysterical Peanut.

And I spot Lammie. On the bench where we were sitting and waiting. 
Reunited. Inseparable. (Usually.)

I immediately calm down. I stop about fifty feet from the bench. I put the Peanut down and stand her on the floor. I point to the bench, squat down to look her in the eye, put my arm around her and say, "Lammie's right there where we were sitting. Go get her."

She smiles. She runs. Reunited and it feels so good. I dodged a big one. Big time.

After barely surviving another trip to hell, thou shall not return.

Suffice it to say, we're Crate& Barrel people now. Raymour and Flanagan maybe, if you twist my arm.


  1. I was there once. I think I got lost somewhere in the bedroom department. We went to Furniture Land South in NC once and that makes IKEA seem like heaven in comparison. It's about the size of a small town.

  2. Went to IKEA once thought it was nice since we don't have them here in Kansas and Missouri but hated how we had to walk to through the whole store. We've got Nebraska Furniture Mart which is nothing like IKEA. I will actually walk into the NFM no more IKEA for me! Good thing I don't have to live near one!

  3. Ugh! I know this story all to well. I think I'll maybe go back to IKEA the next time all the kids are with grandparents or something. (Reminds me of this post: Operation Stop Whining Followup)

  4. Haha i have to admit even after 5 years of living in Sweden i have not yet has the pleasure of visiting IKEA, but if it is anything like you describe i think i might give it a miss. However alot of my friends have been to IKEA in Scotland and they love it and have not complained perhaps it's only in America?
    You are like the most obese people in the world right? Perhaps Sweden think you need to loose weight too ;)

  5. What I did not mention, that a reader named Steve did on the Facebook page, is that after you spend hours at the store, you sound hours putting this stuff together at home. I do have to admit the stuff looks sharp and lasts a while for what it is. But still...never again. Im sensing from here and Facebook that almost everyone has an IKEA horror story or two.

  6. That is how hell lures you doesn't want you to know you're there - so it makes you keep walking...hopefully getting distracted by the beauty and whimsy of cheap items. thank GOODNESS you found lammie...that would have been tragic...tragic, my friend!!



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