Let me start by saying that I loved IKEA. However, that changed when we went to deck out our new master suite. I’d had my eye on the Birkeland bedroom set for like a year. That weekend Paul and I drove three and a half hours to IKEA. We arrived early and began our mission.
I look at IKEA like I look at a triathlon. There are three legs, and you need to pace yourself and make sure that you have enough fuel for the journey. Seeing as I was particularly weak after our three-month wedding holiday in the US, I knew that this IKEA mission was going to be hard. I rushed through the showroom and made a beeline for the bedroom sets. I even skipped the couch section. This was Fail #1. (The couch section is crucial for resting your legs.) With our four items marked on our note card, we raced to the marketplace. I grabbed a lamp and shade. We stopped and wondered if we should get some Swedish meatballs. We’d been moving pretty quickly and definitely needed some re-fuelling. But I was too anxious to get to the warehouse, because a staff member had said that there were only three queen bed frames left. We clearly needed to skip the meal. Fail #2.
We didn’t waste time letting the escalator take us down to the warehouse, either; we treated that piece like stairs. Once we got a cart, we gathered most of our items. Last, we went to get the bed frame. We found the aisle and section. The sign read Birkeland Queen Bed. We grabbed the box and checked the label. Queen. Then we loaded it on our trolley. As we were pushing our cart away, we noticed that the box was ripped. We decided to go back and swap out the box. We quickly grabbed the next one down and went on our way to the checkout counter. Paul had done a mental total of what our bill would be, so when they said $1,300, he knew that we were missing something. Bed slats and a metal support rod. Another trip down Aisle 31 and we were back at the counter. $1,590. That was more like it.
We drove the three and a half hours home and began setting up. We immediately fucked up the first bedside table. We nailed the back on the front. There is no coming back from that mistake. (It would just have to go on the far side of the bed.) The second one went much more smoothly. Next, we tackled the bed. My friend Alicia stopped by and watched our progress.
‘Hey guys! I love the bed you chose. It looks kind of small though.’
‘Nope, it’s a queen. We’re just not done putting it together.’
Alicia left and then Erin came by.
‘You’re back! How was IKEA?’
‘It almost killed me, but we’re doing well.’
‘That bed looks like a double.’
‘No, it’s definitely a queen.
Erin left and Paul carried on with his allen key. After another half hour it was time to put the slats on.
‘Summer. It’s a double.’
‘These slats are too big for the frame.’
Paul walked over to the box and picked it up. ‘BIRKELAND DOUBLE BED FRAME.’
Paul’s knees buckled and he sank to the ground. He sat on the mound of boxes while covering his face with his hands. ‘I could cry right now.’
‘Oh my God this is so horrible. Why do bad things happen to good people?’
‘I’m going to kill myself.’
‘Paul. I can’t go back there. I can’t do it again.’
‘I know, I know.’
I picked up my phone and found the number for IKEA customer service. I waited on hold for forty-three minutes before someone answered. I explained the situation and begged them to help us find a solution that didn’t involve us driving back to Sydney. Thankfully, for $450, IKEA will deliver the correct size bed and remove the wrong one. Even though there was a silver lining, Paul and I laid in bed that night feeling utterly defeated.
I feel like we did learn a very important lesson from IKEA, though: haste makes waste. We shouldn’t have rushed in the warehouse. We needed to check and double check. We also needed to eat the Swedish meatballs. If we had, we would have probably had more energy to take our time and really pace ourselves.
I also learned that if you move too quickly around your room while holding a sharp object, you will damage your low-quality Swedish furniture that you needed to return.