Dear the Ikea,
I’m writing to complain about one of your products I purchased two months ago. I know it has been a fair amount of time between purchase and complaint, but there is a reason for that. I believe some context is required to understand my issue, so please excuse the length of this letter.
I remember how excited I was, cycling up to your big blue and yellow store at Lakeside. As the shadow of the Swedish colossus swept over me I could feel a surge of expectation. I had finally saved up enough money from my job as Toll Booth Operator to afford a dining room table. No more banana boxes from Morrison’s haphazardly selotaped together, tonight I would dine on veneer covered MDF boards, like a king. Or at the very least, a king who’s had a bad run at the casinos of late.
With glee and whilst still in motion, I leapt off my bicycle and dashed for the entrance, too animated by the prospect of low cost, basic furniture to care what happened to my two wheel wonder. A solid wall of aspirational middle-class flesh blocked the doorway; the sweet British symphony of tutting swirling around the entrance’s air-con. I ducked, bobbed and weaved my way through the throng, putting aside my normal English reserve. However, it was doing me no good, there were too many bodies trying to force their way in, reminiscent of the Tokyo underground during rush hour. I had no choice.
Surrounded by the astonished faces I successfully somersaulted over a child, not so much her mother, and landed with a flourish on the welcome mats. Ignoring the stares and whispers from the awed crowd at my magnificent entrance (pun unintended) I continued into the building at a much more leisurely pace.
Whimpering gently under my breath and unable to control my skittish legs I skipped through the showroom like I was in a dream, a beautiful, marvellous, faintly bleach scented dream. I wended my way around chairs and tables and slightly differently shaped chairs and tables and bookcases and dodgy patterned fabrics and more chairs and tables and beds and countless other gorgeous sights that were mostly chair and table based. It didn’t feel like I was walking, I was goddamn gliding, lightly brushing past pissed off people as I made my way through the physical embodiment of a lazy carpenters heaven.
As like everything in life, the joy started to fade from my being, as well it seemed the light and other customers. Like a cocoa junkie who just needs one more Dairy Milk selection box to quench their undying need, I tried as hard as I could to keep the jubilation flowing through my fat clogged veins.
Sadly I eventually stopped my slither through the furniture, mostly because I couldn’t see anything. As I slowly returned to this disappointing plane of existence I looked at my watch, it was midnight. Eleven hours had past, eleven! I had not noticed the passage of time in my daze.
I looked around, as much good as that did me in the dark, and my joy was now replaced by fear. As a child my mother had warned me of monsters in the wardrobe. I thought I had grown out of the childish dread, but now I was surrounded by them and I could feel the panic rising. Crashing and banging into terrifying cupboards I fled from the bedroom section, grabbing a Gosa Pinje pillow and a Mysa Vete quilt (both excellent by the way) and dived into the first cabinet I could find.
Two days, TWO WHOLE DAYS I was stuck in there. The quilt and pillow case acting like packaging material, holding me snug and tight as I tried to wrestle myself free.
Nobody could hear my cries or pleas thanks to the Gosa Pinje flumped across my fizzog. Slowly but surely I began to acclimatise to my new life as an unloved, undelivered parcel. The softness of the Mysa Vete lulling me to comforting sleep whenever panic arose in my mind. I was suffering from Stockholm syndrome (sorry, that was punintenional).
But all things must come to an end, and after two days I was getting extremely hungry. Thankfully my now slightly thinner physique allowed me to wriggle free from the cabinet’s delicate embrace. I fell face first onto the floor, the Gosa Pinje cushioning my fall (it really is a rather wonderful pillow), a squeal coming from a nearby surprised family. Ignoring them and the fathers cry for security I turned to what had become my home. Lightly brushing my fingers against the lime green veneer I whispered “I’ll never forget you.” Salty tears spilled down my cheeks.
Sorrowfully I slowly turned away, before sprinting off at high speed thanks to your overly zealous security. I dashed through the remainder of the showroom, making a quick stop off at the restaurant to wolf down off a plate of meatballs some kid had finished with. His parents said he had only gone to the toilet, but I could tell they were the self-made selfish types who didn’t like to give hand-outs to those that need it. They threatened me with security which seemed a bit redundant by that point and I continued my flight to the warehouse.
Oh after such elation, such joys no mortal man could ever truly comprehend. The divine sights I had seen, the majesty of such wondrous affordable and sensible furniture and furnishings. Truly the showroom was a Valhalla. What exactly your warehouse is, I can’t put into words, although I’ll certainly have a go.
I dashed into the dark, gaping maw of the warehouse. I was crestfallen, after the astounding things had I seen above, only to come to such a lowly and dull place as this was heart wrenching. The Wizard of Oz’s curtain was pulled back, the badly fitting woollen bobble hat had been half-inched from the child’s head, the thing had been thinged by a thing. I saw the true heart of Swedish affordability and sensibility now; it consisted mostly of racking and bland cardboard boxes.
Unlike the showroom where I drifted in a non-naughty orgasmic state, I now sullenly sauntered through the brown and grey nightmare I had found myself in. I left a trail of tears behind me as I wept on behalf of all humanity.
Then, I had an epiphany; this was all a test. If I was a true Ikean than I had to accept both sides of the coin. I had seen what was possible above, now I had to find my meaning below. Once I had attained meaning, through the cash counter, I could then strive upwards, to try and reach through my own sweat and blood the nirvana of a perfect house. It was then I understood your frankly weird advert about smelling people’s armpits.
With my newfound understanding and vigour, I dashed to one of those little computer things and located my table. I grabbed a trolley and clumsily dropped the three boxes onto it before sprinting to the checkout.
The cashier gave me an odd look as I unlaced my money sack and dumped it upside down on the counter. The glorious chorus of Stretto tutting gradually built up behind me as the flustered cashier started sorting out the coinage. After twenty minutes the table was finally mine. Now I could go home and start my journey. Although as it turns out my trip home turned into quite a journey on itself.
The cashier explained to me that if I wanted to have my table delivered it was probably best to talk to the delivery firm situated by the exit. I thanked her profusely, let her keep the spare couple of coppers she had found in the bag, and pushed my trolley to the desk.
Seriously? Forty quid? I was outraged; the man at the counter may of well asked me for a quart of blood, a pound of flesh, a litre of printer ink. He just shrugged at my horror and walked off to serve somebody else. I tried to alleviate myself by thinking of it as part of the test. If I was to be a true Ikean, I would find a way to get those boxes home.
And I did.
It took a lot of clever balancing, as well as ripped up and knotted plastic bags, but I managed to get the table attached to my pushbike. It was almost like a sign, all the bags I needed were in the same skip that somebody had thrown my dented bicycle in. Smiling at my providence I started the trek home.
A week later I pulled up outside my flat.
Boy, that week was certainly a journey, but that’s for another time, I’m trying to be as succinct as possible and that tale would just be pointless fluff in this concise letter. I mean, you want to know what my issue is rather than having to read a letter that drones on and on and on with superfluous sections in it. I know, I know, you’re busy people and time is precious and you have children/a marriage/a relationship/bathelorising to get back to and don’t need your day wasted by completely pointless letters filled with amazing stories and adventures. So that’s what I’m trying to do, I hope you understand. If you do want to know about my tale to the flat than write back to me and ask me, but of course if you don’t want to know then you don’t need to say anything. The situation is lightened from your beautifully sloped shoulders (I’m taking a guess on that, but you work for Ikea so you all probably look as perfect as your showrooms) by me not adding it and wasting paper, time and effort explaining it to you.
I pushed what was left of my bicycle into the buildings elevator and smacked the floor button, slumping against the cool metal wall. I flinched as my delicate new back tattoo touched the steel; it was going to be a while before that felt better, I thought. The doors slid open and I wheeled the boxes down the corridor to what would soon be my new, improved, heavenly home.
I was tired, exhausted and bloody knackered if you excuse my French, but I had fought (at one point literally) to get my table home, I wasn’t about to wait after everything I had done. Although, first I had to get out of the very uncomfortable sailors uniform I had acquired. Admittedly I had a lost a fair amount of weight over the week, but clothing designed for a dwarf was never going to be all that comfy on me. Luckily the seams were velcroed so it all came apart easy enough.
An hour later I was clean, fed, watered and ready to tackle the table. I detached the machete from the bike and carefully, or as carefully as you can be with a fourteen inch blade, opened the weathered boxes.
Your packaging, on a side note, is magnificent. Despite everything I had been through in the last week the furniture components were immaculate. Not even the fire had touched them. Gently, just like a mother with a newly born babe, I laid the parts out on the floor before reaching for the instruction manual.
I understand why you have designed your manuals the way you have. No need to translate because there’s no words, just simple elegant graphics. They can be used around the world. It’s clever, it’s cheap, it’s also really hard to understand them. I scowled at the little picture of the chinless, overtly happy man, obviously the representation of a true Ikean. The neat lined graphics started to swirl and merge, little did I know at the time the peyote capsules I had accidentally taken were starting to resurface. For hours I stared at the manual, the pages splashed on the floor like a collage. I stared endlessly at them, hoping it would begin to make more sense.
It didn’t so I tore them apart in my mighty hands before eating them. I would ingest the knowledge, make it part of me so I could understand at a universal level what needed to be done to reach the next level of Ikeaness.
It took me a few weeks but I thought I had managed it. I worked tirelessly day and night, by the end only in the day as I had lost my job and the electricity board had cut me off. I thought I was missing components, probably lost on the gambling barge, so I started to deconstruct my house, taking what I needed to finish.
Finally, finally I had done it. I stood up straight, brushing sawdust and trimmed wire clippings from my elegantly muscled thighs. I removed the screwdriver from my mouth, placed it behind my ear like a true manly man and stood back to relish the sight of my graft.
It had been a fair few weeks since I had eaten the manual and my memory was hazy, but I was pretty sure it didn’t look like it did in the booklet. My concern was firmly established when the table roared, it’s mandibles clacking loudly. It eyed me cautiously through it’s webcams, like a feral, digital beast. Slowly I picked my camera up from the side and took a picture of the thing. The flash angered the Fusion table and it screeched, spun around and smashed it’s way through the balcony door.
I haven’t seen my table since, although on occasion I do hear a local press bulletin about a terrifying creature roaming the countryside, attacking sheep.
In essence, can you make your manuals easier to understand?