Some assembly required
MAY 30 — For most reasonable people, Ikea is synonymous with overpriced furniture of a suspiciously disposable nature. Yet many Malaysians, for some unfathomable reason, seem completely infatuated with the whole “Ikea Experience.”
Take my wife, for instance. She adores so much the assorted pieces of wood and plastic the Swedish company passes off as furniture, I swear she’s trying to turn our house into an Ikea catalogue one Billy bookcase at a time.
Then you also have all the pilgrims who make the obligatory stop at the furniture superstore — no out-of-towner’s visit to the Klang Valley is complete without going to gawk at all the immaculately decorated faux rooms there.
I often wonder what compels them to go. It’s certainly not to buy anything. All they seem to do is stroll along the aisles, alternating between gasping at the silly prices people seem willing to pay for something as mundane as a sofa and scratching their heads wondering why on earth someone would want as useless a thing as a garlic press (which doesn’t work, by the way).
From the way these people flock there, you’d think Ikea was the Mecca of furniture. Let me assure you now that it is not. Far from it. Instead, it’s rather like purgatory. A purgatory where forlorn pieces of furniture wait to for the opportunity to be given an existence.
This is because when you go to Ikea, you don’t actually buy furniture. Instead, you buy the idea of furniture. You’d think most people would have figured this out by the way a five-drawer dresser is unfeasibly fitted into a handily-packed carton no bigger than a shoebox, but no.
And you’d also imagine people blessed with the mechanical aptitude of a quadriplegic would know better than to attempt such an undertaking. Yet they do. If you ever wondered what a nutjob looks like, just head down to Ikea to watch them beam their deluded smiles as they cart off their might-be chairs and tables.
For the uninitiated, the “Ikea Experience” goes something like this. You go to the store and pick out something you like. Then you dutifully hunt down the storage aisle in which it is kept and load it onto a flat pack trolley. You pay for it (hopefully).
At this point is where those with merely a tenuous grasp on reality are separated from the stark, raving lunatics. If you now find yourself saddled with a box that’s too large to fit into your car, rest assured that you belong to the first category. Take advantage of Ikea’s generous 30-day return policy, admit you were never going to be able to put the damned thing together and just buy stuff that comes already assembled.
If, however, you start dismantling bits of your car interior in a furious but ultimately fruitless attempt to make the box fit, then I don’t think there’s anything to be said other than “The padded walls are for your own good.”
When you eventually get it home (when, not if, because crazies never give up) you’ll be confronted with a jigsaw puzzle of mammoth proportions and a piece of paper that looks like it was drawn by some demented caveman.
Should you be fluent in Neanderthalese, there should be no trouble from here on. But for many, that would be akin to cheating. So throw away the sheet and just dive into it. Like Forest’s box of chocolates, you never really know what you’re going to get other than you’re damned sure not going to get the table you bought.
Lest you think there is no point to the entire exercise, I promise you there is method to the madness. Because once you unveil the masterpiece you’ve just cobbled together, chances are the missus will be so thoroughly convinced by the Ikea table, which now looks suspiciously like a three-legged barstool, that she will swear off it completely.
And when it comes to the “Ikea Experience", that is — if you ask me — about as good as it gets.* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.
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