Sunday, 11 May 2008

What shall we do on a beautiful Sunday in May? - Spend it in Ikea

Shopping is a trauma for me unless I am going out there to buy something I desperately need and want. I would love to spend two hours wandering around shops to buy a gadget, a decent book, anything for myself to be perfectly honest. Unfortunately any luxuries I desire are near the bottom of the joint shopping list, that of Mrs PM and me that is. Sadly most of the things on that list are for the most demanding thing in my life – the house. This means that I have to endure a trip to Ikea, via other furniture shops.

So what do we need for the house? Having just redecorated the smallest bedroom, we have to buy:

(1) A wardrobe
(2) A small chest of drawers or other storage unit.

Simple? No! My dreams were shattered, in particular when Mrs PM suggested the inevitable trek along the M60 to the shop that metaphorically speaking exists in the storey below Dante’s seventh level of hell – Ikea.

I’m not having a go at Ikea, by the way. I love the furniture in there and I think it is reasonably priced and excellent quality and value for money. But, as with most other furniture shops, I detest the shopping experience and what I am about to write applies to just about all of them. Every time I have been furniture shopping, I have entered the shop an optimistic customer and departed in agony, both mental and physical, with a hole in my bank balance.

This time was no exception. It started badly as we were driving because I told Mrs PM in no uncertain terms why the furniture shopping experience was so awful for me. This didn’t go down to well because Mrs PM assumed that I was criticizing her. I tried to explain that perhaps the problem was me but I gave up having realised that I had dug a hole big enough to bury myself and an elephant three times over.

To cut a long story short:

We got lost in the showroom because we couldn’t decide whether to buy a bedside table or chest of drawers, and the wardrobe we wanted was available but not in the colours that Mrs PM wanted. I wandered aimlessly in the maze that is the showroom floor, trying to work out from the “easy to use” store maps, where the bloody hell we actually were. When we eventually found something recognisable, for example, the TV bench area, we couldn’t agree on a style; should we choose the Leksvik or the Mark├Âr? What do these words mean? It wouldn’t surprise me if they were Swedish for “moron” and “stupid”. We argued about the wardrobe, we wandered about between bedroom, lounge, office etc. sections looking for anything we could. At one stage I was caught short and had to find the toilet. When I got back, could I find Mrs PM? I think you can guess the answer to that. Eventually we bumped into each other and discovered that she was frustrated because the colours she wanted were being phased out and I was frustrated because I wanted to get home to watch the Manchester United game on TV.

The worst thing is, we thought we were ready for this trip to Ikea but in reality we were totally ill-prepared. Oh I thought we were prepared; we had measured, discussed, measured again, discussed again and we both approached the building with a firm plan in our minds. However, we just didn’t plan enough.

We couldn’t decide on a colour (well personally I didn’t care; I would have selected purple with pink stripes and yellow spots to get out of there); we couldn’t decide on a style or shape (again I could ant would have accepted a wardrobe shaped like a pyramid to get out of there). And the result was that we moaned and argued as we wandered around the shop, trekking back and forth with other like minded and equally frustrated couples.

I’m sure that staff working at any furniture shop love to watch hapless couples reduce each other to gibbering wrecks after hurling vitriolic abuse at each other over the shape and size of bedside tables. I can imagine that in their position I would love it.

Well in the end, having trudged around a hundred miles in the confines of Ikea, we finally made a decision. And what happened? We discovered that the exact model and shade we wanted was out of stock and furthermore the shade we desired (or more accurately Mrs PM desired) was now being phased out.

We left the shop three hours after we had walked in with nothing.

On the way home, I plucked up the courage to suggest that Mrs PM, the more difficult to please of the two of us, do more research on the Internet, decide what she wants and where she wants to get it. With a snarl, she agreed and this afternoon I have left her to it.

Suffice it to say, we will probably spend next Saturday hiking around MFI for hours.

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