Voyage Through the Labyrinth

I needed a filing cabinet. Nothing fancy, not something built into a desk, but a cheap, three to four drawer filing cabinet in which to store all the crap that is currently sitting on my floor. Unfortunately, the only place that sells cheap, metal filing cabinets in Montreal, to my knowledge, is Ikea. Before today, I had never been in Ikea. After today, I may never go into Ikea again. It’s not that my experience was horrible – in fact it was fun – but it is so big and horribly confusing that I can’t imagine going back and making it out alive.
If you’ve never been in Ikea before, I recommend going opposite the flow of traffic; that is, pass the showroom, go directly to the checkout, and enter the self service warehouse. Spend a few minutes looking for the item you found online amongst the aisles and aisles of flat-packed items that have no apparent order. Only when you fail to find what you need should you venture into the showroom – through the exit. Or at least that’s what my dad and I did.
Never have I been in a place that could be more aptly be described by the word “labyrinth” than the Ikea showroom. They actually have a map of the place. There is even a restaurant about half way through so that you don’t die of hunger if you get lost on the way out. I’m fairly sure that several average sized families could actually live comfortably in a fully stocked Ikea store and not venture out for months. There were literally hundreds of people grazing like deer through the maze of goods (and bads, as is occasionally the case with cheap home furnishings,) picking up things they surely didn’t need – the most obvious example of which was a fake lamb’s pelt. I ask you: who on Earth needs a fake lamb’s pelt? The sad thing is that, for a moment, I actually thought I wanted it. I don’t need the fake hide of a fake dead animal, nor will I ever.
Once you’ve found the item you want, you have to write down the product code, possibly using one of the free golf pencils they have in buckets next to the maps in the showroom (I stole one. Shhh!) and then you have to make your way to the self service warehouse. A shrewd mind will realize that Ikea wants you to filter through the torrents of useless crap that you don’t need on your way to get what you do need, in the hopes that you’ll accumulate a few things on the way. Once in the warehouse, you grab a cart, find your flat-pack furniture, and head to the cash. Shopping accomplished.
I’m fascinated by how blatant and efficient the Ikea “suck the money right out of your pockets” operation is, and how many people still use it. The fact that product codes are either nonexistent or difficult to find on the Ikea website and that in order to get to the actual furniture you have to walk through each level of the showroom is amazing. It’s like a right of passage: you only get to buy the cheap furniture once you have been exposed to all of the marketing the store has to offer.
Overall it was a fun adventure, and next time I need some cheap furniture that I can’t really build myself I’ll probably at least consider Ikea. It was a surreal experience, but at least I have my filing cabinet (which, by the way, I needed badly. Very badly.)

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