The Swedes May Have Invented Hell

ikea

One of my recent posts described how I spent the better part of a Friday night wandering the voluminous yet crammed to the rafters aisles of a local Ikea store.

Well, once again reinforcing one of the main tenets of life — no good deed goes unpunished — I was, of course, obligated to try to assemble our purchases afterwards in the noble effort to save money. 

This aspect of The Daily Trip in my household has proven somewhat interesting over the years.  No, not the saving money part.  Rather, it’s the “what would you do (and spend) if I (Dad) weren’t here” part.

Daughter’s standard retort is that she would seek guidance and direction from her iPhone.  I suspect many children today are of the same disposition.

Thanks, Apple.

My Lovely Spouse’s standard retort is that she would pay someone to do whatever thing that I’m currently doing for free. 

So, it turns out I am actively engaged in planning my own future obsolescence, or so it would seem.

Back to Ikea and the boxes of disassembled furniture items.

It all seems so logical, linear, and straightforward.  All the parts have been neatly engineered to fit “just so” inside their perfectly proportioned, Eurotrash boxes.

And the stuff inside is the same.  Carefully cushioned and separated by exactly the right cardboard spacers and heavy-duty  lining paper.

If you aren’t OCD, it will drive you to become so. 

Many, many years ago, “back in the day” — whatever that means — I remember reading a particular collection of science fiction short stories.  I don’t know if they were by Asimov, or Heinlein, or Bradbury, but one of the tales featured a mysterious, compartmented cylinder that was planted in our solar system.  The thing turned out to be a giant puzzle.  After solving the problem in one compartment, the next would open.  However, the deeper into the cylinder the problem solvers went, the harder each one became to solve.  The early ones took hours; the later ones were taking weeks.  Eventually, the cylinder shut down, and our Dog Scientists figured it was the alien’s way of figuring out how advanced mankind was intellectually.

Clearly the Ikea Mavens ripped a chapter out of this book.

Take the the Assembly Instructions; please.  Anything over 25 pages or so generally requires a degree in Mechanical Engineering in order to put the stupid thing together.  If it’s less, I can envision a completed project somewhere in the range of 2-6 hours. 

I am not a Dog Scientist, it would seem.

I have als found that one of the most important keys to maintaining sanity while putting together Ikea furniture is to be organized.

And celebrate little victories.

I try to ignore the 1,207 separate parts contained in each included plastic bag and focus on placing them somewhere so that I don’t lose any of them, yet they are easily accessible. 

The process goes like this: 

1)  Depression/Feelings of Being Overwhelmed – Gazing upon the plastic bag o’ parts, and opening same;

2)  Elation – Screwing in the first nut; 

3)  Depression – Realizing there are 562 more nuts to screw in;

4)  Elation - Determining that one shelf requires absolutely no assembly whatsoever;

5)  Depression/Feelings of Being Overwhelmed – Undoing your last 30 minutes’ worth of work because you put together two pieces backwards. 

At some point hours later, an object vaguely resembling the one you supposedly bought teeters unsteadily before you. 

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, so I usually take a break and get some coffee.

The problem is, after going through these same gyrations a few times, you develop a pretty good sense of what’s in front of you the minute you dump everything out of the carefully packed box.

If there are enough parts jammed together in a plastic bag that approximates the size of a rugby ball, you’re in trouble.

It’s only taken me several weeknights over the last several days to almost completely construct everything we bought last Friday night.

I consider that to be some type of accomplishment. 

However, since I am well adept at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, I will not relax my efforts until every Ikea box and book of instructions have disappeared from my sight.

And all that will be left is modern Swedish particle board furniture.

It will be sturdy, edgy, and functional — quite hellish.

I might even celebrate with a jar of Lingonberry jam — if they ever get it back in stock.

- Dad

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