Don't Try This at Home
Ben, October 8, 2004

My brilliant plan.  I’d just moved into my new apartment and the closest thing I had to furniture was the camping mattress I was sleeping on.

In an interest to save money, I did what most people in my situation would do: I headed to IKEA.  The IKEA in Minneapolis is located next to the infamous Mall of America.  I took the light rail and a bus to get there, so I avoided the usual hassle of having to find a parking space.  It was a Saturday and it seemed that everyone within 100 miles chose this day to go furniture shopping.  I cut through the mall on my way to the IKEA since the bus stop is on the opposite side of the MoA from IKEA.

As I worked my way through the labyrinthine store, I found a set of table and chairs for about $80.  I wasn’t able to find a futon (which I’d wanted even more than the table), but that may have been a good thing.

As I moved to the lower level of the store, thinking I’d just go and pick up the table and be gone, I realized that there were all kinds of wonderful things for the home I never knew I needed.  The unintentional purchase is part of the charm and the experience of IKEA.  It probably is also where they make most of their money.  So, I grabbed a few things I hadn’t been looking for, but could probably use: a set of a dozen glasses, dish towels, a thermos, Tupperware…  All of these I’ve used, but did I really need eight dish towels?

Eventually, I found my way to the “self-serve” area.  This is basically a warehouse where you are expected to haul away your new furniture in a cardboard box for later assembly.  The box was big and was kind enough to tell me how much its contents weighed (30 kilos), but I wasn’t really worried about that; the shopping list you pick up on your way into the store assures you that home delivery is available.

So, I look around to see where I arrange for home delivery and I see a sign for it on the other side of the check-out.  Blissfully unaware that anything could possibly go wrong, I wade my way through the checkout line and start wheeling my cart in the direction of the delivery desk.  Above this desk (which can’t be seen from the check-out line) is a sign that informs me that the minimum cost for home delivery is $49.

Now, the entire purpose of going to IKEA was to save money.  Shelling out $49 to ship this table to my apartment really doesn’t seem like a very cost effective thing to do.  Admittedly, it also pissed me off that they don’t tell you how much delivery costs until AFTER you’ve paid for what you need delivered.  Of course, when I get angry I tend to get stubborn.  I’m told this is a family trait.  So, I decided that the hell with them, I’m going to take this thing home with me on the bus.

I roll my cart outside and through the parking lot and would have been happy to keep rolling it all the way to the bus stop.  Those wily Swedes weren’t happy about this idea and had installed a sensor in the wheels that will lock them up if you try to take them outside the parking lot.  So, now I have to carry the thing.  Oh, and the glasses and other items I just had to pick up as well.  I put those in my backpack, gritted my teeth and started walking.   Remember how I said the bus stop was on the opposite side of the MoA?

I took a lot of breaks and tried to take it easy on myself, but part of me kept thinking of the safety training I’d received the previous day.  Especially the part about not overexerting yourself lifting heavy or awkward objects and risking back injury.  Hmm… lessee, heavy object? Check.  Awkward? Check.  In fact, I couldn’t think of anything I was doing that the safety video would have approved of.  After about 1/4 mile of carrying my new table and chairs, I was coming around to the same opinion as the safety video.  Part of me wanted to say the hell with it, bring the table back and cut my losses.  Of course, that would mean carrying it BACK to the store.  I was about halfway to the bus stop.  Oh hell, I guess I’ll keep going.  This continued for quite awhile and I threatened myself with mutiny on more than one occasion.  Eventually, I made it to the bus stop.

Normally, I like it when a bus arrives promptly, but that day I really wouldn’t have minded a few more minutes to rest.  Nope, the ever efficient Metro Transit bus pulls up and I lug the #@%$in table on board.  I get a couple of questioning looks and one person who sees the box and says “Oh! IKEA!  I was there last week!  Of course, I had a car…”  I smiled at this.  There really wasn’t anything else to do

After a transfer from the bus to the light rail, I was on the home stretch.  All I had to do was carry the table from the station to my apartment.  This was probably a shorter distance than from IKEA to the bus stop, but not much.  Fortunately, with the end in sight, these things always seem to go a little faster.  I finally arrived at the apartment, carried it up to my second floor apartment and collapsed on the floor.  After a few minutes of rest, I got myself a cup of water in one of my new glasses and sat down on the floor to assemble my new table.

The table was joined by a futon a week or two later (this was delivered), but beyond that, it remains the only real piece of furniture in the apartment.  It is my desk, my dining table, and my storage area.  It has been a very good deal for me and is doing it job wonderfully.  Still, the next time I go to purchase furniture at IKEA, I’ll make certain to bring a car.