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Monday, May 01, 2017

Scarecrow Goes to IKEA

When last we left our intrepid hero, he came home from work on Thursday afternoon, ready to enjoy the Easter weekend, when he met tragedy in his living room.  The tempered glass top shelf of his entertainment centre had shattered, leaving broken glass all over his floor and one upside down TV.  Here's the pics, in our "pics or it didn't happen" world.  Once I got the glass cleaned up and verified that the TV was still functional, the question turned to needing a new entertainment centre.  So as one does in this day and age, I hopped on line and went to the IKEA website.  I found one I liked that was within my budget, asked my parents to meet me there (because things like "size" confuse me so I wanted to borrow my Dad's truck in case it was needed), and plans were made for a road trip!

Rolling into Edmonton, I was pondering the last time I went to IKEA.  It had to be when I was a kid...way back when IKEA was still in West Edmonton Mall.  Yes, Edmonton's IKEA was originally in West Edmonton Mall, way back when the Mall first opened in the mid-1980s.  The Mall has always prided itself on bringing in many retailers to Alberta for the first time, and I'm pretty sure the West Edmonton Mall IKEA was the first one in Alberta, if not Western Canada.  In the late-1990s, as the South Edmonton Common became a thing, they moved down there.  For those who don't know their West Edmonton Mall geography, IKEA was originally where the Sport Check and Bed, Bath, and Beyond currently are.

But no, they moved to South Edmonton Common, reviled by many in Edmonton for being the very definition of urban sprawl.  The massive, sprawling power centre, taking up a good portion of Edmonton's south side.  At least it's really easy to get to, now that the Anthony Henday Drive is complete.  Take the Henday all the way around to Gateway Boulevard, head north into the city, and BOOM!  It's your first exit.  I entered the Common and was instantly lost, as rather than the massive parking lot that most power centre have, it has built up its own maze of streets and avenues.  Luckily, IKEA is massive, so I just set my sights on the massive blue and yellow building on the horizon and drove towards it.

I arrived about a half-hour before my parents, and decided to browse the showroom while I waited.  As it was Saturday, it was understandably crowded.  The showroom was as I remembered from my youth, a winding maze taking you through many model rooms, showing you what the furniture looks like all assembled.  I spent a lot of time in the living room section.  I'm also in dire need of a new sofa, but even IKEA sofas are pretty pricey on a small market radioman's salary.  Hell, the only reason why I could afford the new TV stand was, in one of those strange karmic things that runs the universe, my tax refund arrived on the same day as the shattering.

I wandered over to the living room storage section, where I found the TV stand I had my eye on.  Looked like it would have fit in my trunk with no problem, so looks like I didn't need to invite my parents along.  Speaking of, that's when I got the text message from my mother that they had arrived.  Now came the most stressful part of my trip to IKEA...going against the flow of the people going through their showroom so I could get back out to the entrance.  Once I got back out to the front, took a moment to calm down, and met with my parents, it was back into the showroom, because they wanted to check out some stuff.

Seriously, though, I don't know if it was the legendarily high stress environment of IKEA on a Saturday, or me, because I was feeling pretty stressed out in IKEA.  Sometimes I think I should see a doctor about anxiety issues because I've never done well in big crowds, but it's getting worse as I get older.

Saw more great stuff in the showroom.  There was a nice glass display cabinet that would be prefect for my action figure collections, should I ever get a bigger place or more money.  They had bookshelves on sale, and I've considered getting a third one as my current DVD shelves are full and spilling out into little piles all over my floor.  Mom took down the number for that one in case I changed my mind by the time we got down to the warehouse.  And some mattresses as well, as my original IKEA mattress is starting to get pretty worn out.

Even thought I haven't been to IKEA in 30 years or so, a lot of my furniture is IKEA.  My armchair, my dining room set, my bed, my dresser, and my computer desk.  I have my parents to thank for that.  The standard housewarming gift that my parents settled on when me and my siblings all got our first places was $1000 worth of flatpacked furniture.  So within a week of being at my first apartment at my first radio gig, my parents and my brother showed up with all these IKEA boxes and we spent the day setting it all up.  I still use pretty much all of it because, well, I'm cheap and it works, so why not?  But the mattress on my bed is starting to wear out.  and IKEA's got some comfy ones.

We finished up in the showroom, the codes for my TV stand in hand, and it was time for lunch.  So we dined in the famous IKEA restaurant.  It really was a cafeteria, though, as you grabbed your tray and got in line.  I grabbed a glass to hit up the soda fountain, but while looking through the cooler full of bottled juices, I saw a juice box of an IKEA exclusive called "Elder Flower Juice."  Intrigued, and no doubt thinking of the classic insult from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, I decided to grab it.  For lunch, I dined upon the IKEA specialty of Swedish meatballs with gravy and mashed potatoes.  It suffered from the standard cafeteria problem:  it had been sitting in the steam trays a little too long and had dried out.  But still, pretty good.  The Elder Flower Juice had a sweet, slightly tart flavour.  It tasted vaguely familiar, but I couldn't put my finger on it.

With out bellies full, we went downstairs.  Here, IKEA turned into a more conventional store, as the shelves were lined with all kinds of housewares and other knick-nacks for your home.  As Mom remarked afterwards, she wound up spending more money there than I did, as she got some new lamps for the guest rooms, some new towels, and various other sundry items for the home.  It a situation where I'm definitely going to have to go back someday, and check out all the other neat stuff.  Especially the lamps.  Lots of neat lamps.

Now that Mom's shopping cart was full, it was into the warehouse to pick up my entertainment centre.  With their cutesy mock-Swedish names, my TV stand was the Besta.  But it turns out, the Besta is a modular system, with dozens of different variants.  Took us a while to go up and down the aisles, getting all the parts for the particular Besta I had seen in the showroom.  But we found them.  With those precariously placed atop our shopping cart, my mother said, "So...is there anything else we're getting?" as she pulled her notepad from her purse, with the numbers for the bookshelf I was eyeing.  I frightened my mother by responding with a Rick and Morty quote:  "Nobody exists on purpose.  Nobody belongs anywhere.  Everyone's going to die.  Let's get the bookshelves."

We got everything into the back of Dad's truck, and made our way out of the city and back to Westlock.  Mom and Dad volunteered to stick around for a bit and help with the assembly.  Dad and I got the Besta put together OK.  I did get a little worried when Mom told me to take a break and she and Dad got to work on the bookshelves.  There was a viral story not too long ago about a certain IKEA cabinet that a marriage councilor had dubbed "the divorce-maker" because of all the arguments it started as couples put it together. Luckily, my parents got through it unscathed.

As my parents left, my mother did have a few surprises.  Some of the new towels she bought were for me, and she also found a bottle of Elder Flower Juice concentrate so I could brew some at home.  As I was getting ready to mix up a pitcher, I had an inspiration.  I fired up my SodaStream, ran the Elder Flower Juice concentrate through it, and made my own Elder Flower Soda.

Guess what?

With bubbles, it tasted just like ginger ale.  That was the vaguely familiar flavour.  It was flat ginger ale.

This whole adventure happened to me about a week ago.  I've been enjoying my TV on my nice new Besta stand, and drinking up the last of the Elder Flower Juice.  Needless to say, IKEA was quite the journey.  And like many other stores, I think I'll be going back someday when I have more money.  

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