MY NERVOUS BREAKDOWN AT IKEA

For years, I’ve loved shopping at IKEA. Like many others on a tight budget, I have learned to spruce up my home on the cheap by using some of their ideas in their creative displays. The other day, I went there just to look around. Not that I needed anything. God knows that I can’t even fit a paper clip in any of the rooms in my house. But I thought that looking around wouldn’t hurt, plus I’d get some much-need exercise, even with my bad knees, just walking around their sprawling two-story modern warehouse.

Truthfully, I thought that I might see a cute, space-saving container or cool-looking wicker basket to store extra stuff in and neaten up my spare room, which has started to look like I’m planning to hold my own private indoor garage sale. Just looking around to get ideas to rearrange what I already have.
One of the things I like about IKEA is how they set up their displays. Everything is so darn neat and color coordinated to entice customers into thinking, “Hey, my rooms can look like that!” Yea, I say to you: keep dreaming! But I think once the IKEA stylists plant a decorating idea in your head, you can’t shake the urge to buy something before you reach the checkout counter. IKEA is adept at suckering customers in that way.

Mentally, I oohed and ahhed as I got to each display and scanned it while I drooled at the mouth. I marveled at the ingenious methods of making a room look chic, airy and livable, not ‘lived in’ like a cold, cramped, over-decorated cave of mismatched, outdated stuff which passes as furniture these days. Lingering at each spot, I went through several instances of heated discussions with inner myself who keeps me sane when I tend to binge shop:

ME: “Hey, I can use that in my bedroom to …!”
INNER SELF: “No, you can’t fit anything else in there.”
ME: “But if I move the…”
INNER SELF: “Stop it.”
ME: “That’s a cute table centerpiece.”
INNER SELF: “Yeah, it is cute. Keep moving!”

And so as I continued this back-and-forth discussion with my INNER SELF, I arrived at a display with clothing racks. Now, I’ve got two sturdy black metal clothing racks. I’ve got a blue zippered clothing rack with an inside shelf at the top. And I even have a hanging clothes rack with slots for shoes or folded sweaters. So, I went at it again with my INNER SELF.

ME: “I could always use another clothing rack.”
INNER SELF: “Where would you put it? On the patio?”
ME: “Shut up.”

Out of all the clothing racks, one boldly spoke to me:

CLOTHING RACK: “Hey! Pick me! Pick me!”
ME: “Why should I pick you?”
CLOTHING RACK: “I’m easy to assemble. You’ll be done in no time. Plus, I have wheels! Wheeels!”
ME: “Sounds good.” And the price was right, too. Cheap!
INNER SELF: “Listen, stupid. You really don’t have room for this thing. Cheap or not. Plus there’s one major thing that you’re not considering.”
ME: “What’s that?”
INNER SELF: “It’s white, so you know you’re gonna have trouble with it.”
ME: “That’s racist! Naw, I can manage.”
INNER SELF:”All I have to say is that I have two words for you: donald trump. And don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

So I looked at the tag on the rack and jotted down the number and aisle for its location in the warehouse pick-up area near the cash registers. After I found the box, I took it off the shelf, and surprisingly, it wasn’t heavy at all. I carried it to the checkout counter, paid for it and headed to my car. After I got home, I took the box up to the second-floor landing. After opening the cardboard box, I emptied the contents on the floor near the steps. Out tumbled several long, white metal poles in different sizes, a plastic bag full of metal bolts and screws and two elbow-shaped thingies to screw in and tighten the bolts into the slots in the poles. You might ask, “Why stop on the second-floor landing”? Well, except for the patio or balcony, it’s one of the few areas in my house where I had room to set this thing up.

And then I faced the moment of truth: reading the instructions. Though they were in German, there were pictures which were explicit enough that even a republican ape could put this thing together. But I especially HATE reading instructions. AARRGGHH!!! I had a hard enough time in the Army, mainly because I hated to read those damn overly inflated, wordy manuals, regulations, guidelines, and SOPs, apparently written by left-brained idiots. I’m a right-brained person. A rare, creative genius, mind you. I don’t have time to read tedious instructions telling me to go from step A to step D. In the Army, I usually skipped several steps in that equation and would come up with the same results and much quicker! I’ve always been a ‘hands-on’ person. Don’t make me read shit or tell me how to do shit. Just show me how to do shit and let me maneuver through the minefields on my own. Sorry, I digress, but anyway, I picked up the instructions and the pictures looked simple enough. The explicit drawings pointed to which screw should go into which slot and which pole would fit into which hole. I did a quick scan of each page. Reluctantly, I briefly looked at the instructions again and shook my head before quickly tossing them aside.

ME: “I can do this.”
INNER SELF: “We’ll see, moron.”
ME: “Shut up.”

For safe measure, I counted all the contents to make sure I had all the screws, pegs, and other assembly pieces. Thank God the end pieces had the wheels already attached. After accounting for six long threaded screws, six short fat threaded thingies, two smaller threaded thingies, two plastic doohickies and two elbow-shaped thingies to tighten the screw thingies, I quickly scan the instructions one more time and once again, I tossed them aside.
ME: “I can do this.”
INNER SELF: “We’ll see, moron.”
ME: “Shut up.”
For safe measure, I counted all the contents to make sure I had all the screws, pegs, and other assembly pieces. Thank God the end pieces had the wheels already attached. After accounting for six long threaded screws, six short fat threaded thingies, two smaller threaded thingies, two plastic doohickies and two elbow-shaped thingies to tighten the screw thingies, I quickly scan the instructions one more time and once again, I tossed them aside.
ME: “I got this shit.”
INNER SELF: “No, you don’t.”
ME: “Shut up!”
Clumsily, I tore open the plastic bag, which caused all the metal screws and washers to fall out on the floor. Most of them scattered around my feet, but a few tried to escape and headed down the stairs. DAMMIT! With my bad knees screaming in pain and cursing me out, I hobbled the steps to retrieve the runaways scattered on a few steps below. I scooped them all up, brought them back upstairs and put them in a place where they couldn’t escape again. Then, I set the two slotted end poles into the two end pieces with the wheels. That done, I inserted two skinny poles into the holes of the two end pieces and tightened the screws into the thingies using the elbow thingies. Then I looked at the partly finished product, which looked like what was left of a car involved in a bad accident. I looked at the instructions again and noticed that the bottom of the rack should consist of four poles, not two. So I had to unscrew one of the end pieces, remove it, insert the two skinny poles into their respective slots, then reattach the end piece.

That done, it was time to attach the top piece. I looked at the remaining bolts and screws and noticed that I had inserted two bolts into the wrong slot on the bottom. Trying to use a shortcut (thanks to my right-brained self), I partially unscrewed one of the bolts leaving just enough room to switch the bolts for the screws. Lo and behold, one of the screws thought it would torment me and slide down into a hole in one of the poles. DAMMIT! As I moved the pole in a see-saw-like manner, I could hear that fucking screw noisily rolling around in the pole, but I couldn’t get it out because a hard plastic plug sealed each end of the pole. SHIT! I stepped away for a few minutes to have a cold beer…then another. Sufficiently buzzed, I went back to tackle that sucker again.

ME: “For something that looked so simple to set up, this is taking up way too much of my damn time.”
INNER SELF: “Told ya!”
ME: “Shut up!”

Finally, I got the damn screw out of the pole, but I had to pop off the hard plastic end piece with a couple of blows from my hammer to pop the end piece from the pole. Little did I know that I could have saved myself some agony. I could have just unscrewed the hard plastic end plug from the end of the pole. Sigh! Tackling the rack again, I managed to get the right bolts and screws and poles where they should be. That done, I looked at the finished product. Yes, it finally looked like the drawing in the instruction booklet, and the wheels made it easy to maneuver.

ME: “See, I told you I could do this.”
INNER SELF: “But where ya gonna put it, you idiot?”
ME: Sigh! Time for a few more cold beers.

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