12.03.2005

The Palace Needs a New Chef


I love to shop.

I mean I reaaallllllyy love to shop.

It matters not if it is for me or someone else.

My money or yours.

Okay that didn’t sound exactly kosher, but you know what I mean.

Thinking back to the not too distant past and long throaty phone calls to the 800 numbers found on the back of catalogues makes me wax nostalgic.

Having to go through the effort of making my way to the phone to place an order must have robbed the economy of thousands of dollars.

Cordless phones put that to rights.

High speed Internet and having user accounts at my fav sites put immediate gratification just, “one click” away.

Hurrah!

Then there is Ikea. It’s different




Everything is flat packed and you have to assemble it.

Keeps the prices down and such. Which is great. You can buy more that way.

They have catalogues.

They have a home on the Internet.

You can order from the catalogue, by phone & you can order off the Internet.

Sort of.

Not everything and not all the different choices can be purchased these ways.

They want you to go to the store.

My first Ikea store experience was on a visit to The Hubster in England before he was The Hubster.

It was all very exciting and low stress, as I knew I would not be purchasing anything.

I already had enough things to drag through the airports on the trip back home.

That was 6 years ago and I had not stepped in one since.

Only lusted after it over the Internet and flipping through the pages while in the loo.

With Hubster living and working in NY 6 days a week we have often talked about going to the Ikea in NJ on one of my weekend visits.

20 months and it has yet to happen.

We usually end up doing, um, other things.

Which is why we are selling the house in New Hampshire come spring and we are all relocating to NY.

So there will be time for other things when we are together other than, um, that other thing.

In order to sell the NH home we are gutting the kitchen and starting over.

This weekend.

Yes, I know Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza et el are less than a month away.

We’ve been over this people. PAY attention.

It’s how I like to do things.

With as much stress and difficulty as possible.

Which is why after 6 long awaited years, I finally stepped into an Ikea store again this past Saturday.

I had seen on the Boston news that the folks in and around Stoughton had been complaining about all the trouble they were having because of Ikea’s arrival.

It’s just a store. They’re everywhere.

Stores in general, not Ikea.

How bad can things be?

Just in case, the plan was to leave as early as needed to arrive just before they open their doors.

Simple yes?

Except that it snowed on Thursday, Thanksgiving, and the Explorer that my son drives was badly in need of new tires.

No biggie-----just get Hubster and son to Tire Warehouse on Friday to get said new tires.

Except that it snowed on Thursday, Thanksgiving, and everyone else in greater Cheshire County was also getting new tires.

So Hubster and son pre-pay for said new tires and plan to be at Tire Warehouse when their doors opened at 8 AM Saturday morning to get new tires put on, son off to his new job orientation and Hubster and I on way to Ikea by 8:30 AM.

Wonderful plan. Hubster and son were so proud.

As was everyone else in greater Cheshire County who were also getting new tires
and came up with the same wonderful plan.

At 8:45 son was walking to his orientation.

And at 10 AM The Hubster and I were finally heading to Ikea.

At Noon we were approaching the exit off of Route 24 and I see State Trooper cars at the exit ramps on both sides of the highway for the 2 exits previous to where we get off.

Huh goes my little blonde brain. Only for a second though as Hubster points out the Ikea sign.

WhooHooooo!

There is stopped traffic snaking onto the highway at the exit.

WhooHoo-ness turns into, “Bloody hell….”

While we slowly make our way off the highway in the midst of a bizarre, Ikea-car-conga- line, we see a surreal sight and I suddenly feel bad for thinking those folks on the news had been exaggerating.

What should be a lovely main thoroughfare through town dotted with quaint shops looks like a car park with multiple quaint little parking attendant houses.

And if the policeman lining both sides of the street heading to Ikea were dressed like this.



I would have thought we were headed to see the Queen herself.

Finally the store is in sight and you would’ve thought that the Fab 4 had finally consented to that reunion concert. (Before John & George had died natch.)

There were makeshift overflow car parks, people everywhere and the policeman had given way to an army----seriously, an army of security guards who had those flashlights with the red extensions fitted on them that made me you think they look like rent-a-jedis.

What do you mean? I can not be the only one whose mind works this way.

So we slowly snaked up to Ikea Palace guided by the mini light sabers and into the parking facility.

Shout out to the Ikea royal family:

Yo, in the future, build multi-story parking garages.

Would have saved the 45-minute merry-go-round driving we did trying to get a parking space.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the incredible young woman,

THANK YOU INCREDIABLE YOUNG WOMAN!!!
,

who walked us to where she parked and blocked out the other cars trying to get into her spot with their tiny little cars before we could maneuver Hubster’s beast into the spot.

The beast looks like this------only Hubster’s also has the extended bed.




I should’ve been all a twitter as Hubster led me into the Ikea Palace but alas our heroine was not.

I wanted to get right back into the beast and go home.

Soldier on did I and after a brief mind adjustment in the loo, came back out ready to shop.

After all we were there on a mission.

Hubster had taken full advantage of Ikea’s online kitchen planner and had his bundle of printouts, (in the Thanksgiving spirit of Arlo Guthrie and the immortal Alice’s Restaurant),
with circles and arrows and would not be denied.

Once I had ridden the palace escalator up to the showrooms all the previous angst washed away and it was like the other shoppers, all 237, 568, 012 of them, faded from view.

It was just I, The Hubster and that retail playground laid out in front of us.

Two hours later the fact that I had not had anything to eat yet hit me and I was starting to look like one of the renegade balloons from the Macy’s parade floating off course and in danger of injuring people.

Following the screams, Hubster found me he pushed me towards the food counter where I had choices to fill the void.

5 choices.

Hotdog, cinnamon roll, chips, coffee or cola.

For real.

I’ve had better meals at a gas-etc stop.

The hotdog was like none I have ever tasted or want to again. I am left wondering if they brought over Swedish hotdogs?

The cinnamon bun would’ve sent the Pillsbury Dough boy into a panic attack if he thought that sawdust-ty thing had popped out of one of his tubes.

Feeling less empty in spite of the gastronomical horror endured, we pressed on.

Hubster, super hero that he is, sensed that I was running on a limited amount of good will toward men and got us to the kitchen center kiosk quickly.

Where the very personable Frederic helped us. He was amazing.

The Hubster later suggested that Frederic was most likely embedded by Ikea from overseas to insure a smooth grand opening of the Stoughton palace.

Embedded? Where were we, the Persian Gulf?

But given the legions of Troopers, Policeman and Jedi’s in training it took to deliver us to the palace----it fit.

So Frederic sang and danced his way through entering our order into the computer, double checking everything along the way, and presented us with a 2-page print out.

We were instructed that all we needed to do was to bring that print out to a cashier, pay and then bring it to the furniture pick-up kiosk where they would hunt and gather all our cabinetry in their flat packed glory and bring them to us.

Today?

Frederic smiled and assured us that it would indeed happen today and if there were any other self-gathering purchases we wanted to make we should take care of the cabinetry and finish shopping while they put our order together.

Well there was, so we did.

It was amazing.

We took that print out to a cashier who looked it over, smiled at us----smiled--- keyed in the order code and the receipt printed with all our individual items.

We walked in dazed amazement to the furniture pick-up kiosk where the woman standing behind the counter looked up, smiled and asked if she could help us.

If not for the horrible food in my belly I think that would’ve passed out right there.

I hadn’t seen actual customer service in action since 197?????.

Renewed by the experience we went back to the showrooms and left them to their hunting and gathering of our cabinetry.

Hubster declared he had found the perfect office chair for me-------and indeed he had.

It was me all over.


And after sitting in it and checking it out it not only suited me it fit me.

So mine it was and back to the furniture pick-up kiosk we did head.

They hadn’t finished gathering our order at the furniture pick-up kiosk so we ended up waiting for about 30 minutes longer.

But I didn’t mind.

Because I could see them in the back double and triple checking our list against the boxes piled up on the carts. Three different people did this.

And even though the day was long

and I nearly let my entire cart piled up with cabinetry go careening down the ramp escalator

and rode home in the beast shock-worn and wrapped in a fleece blanket that cost all of $3.99 at the palace

and that when we arrived back home at 6 PM-ish---

while Hubster and Boy Wonder unloaded the 56 flat packed boxes---I promptly crawled into bed and ordered in from our favorite Thai Restaurant:

Even after all that, oddly enough, I am looking forward to another trip to the efficient, customer-friendly, Swedish shopping palace.
posted by Angel @ 6:32 PM |

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