A Highly Caffeinated Man with Anxiety Goes to IKEA: A Ballad
It was a normal Friday afternoon. I was driving home from Philadelphia and as I was driving in southern Maryland, I saw an IKEA. I thought to myself "I just moved into a new house I could really use some new furniture". So i decided to make a detour on my drive.
I should have never made the stop. I should have just kept driving.
"Every act of creation is first an act of destruction" - Pablo Picasso
It was my first journey into an IKEA. I did not know what it would be like. Armed only with my Celsius that I had for the drive, I was hopelessly unprepared. When I first walked in I saw a lot of words in Swedish. This gave me a little bit of whiplash as I did not know there was a connection prior to walking in. This was not a big deal for me, but then I took the elevator up to the "show floor" to do my shopping.
I start browsing what I can only describe as an interactive art piece. I couldn't tell if I was meant to be shopping or if I was supposed to be pointing at everything saying "bullshit", a la Danny Devito in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
This was where I saw blood pressure spike #1 happened. I get what Ikea is going for as a business, but the maze-like setup and partitions all over the place made me feel like a rat in some crude experiment.
My immediate thought is the person experimenting on me is probably Jared (editor and founder of Caffeine Shark) trying to insert me into high stress situations so he can better understand the backwards logic of my special brain.
The next spike came when I noticed the markings on the floor. There were literal arrows marked on the floor that told you which direction to walk in. Not only have they completely abandoned the aisle layout, but they've taken any independent power of thought away from you. As I looked around everyone else was completely content in following the rules of this authoritarian establishment, and were all following the arrows. Never in my life has my internal Guy Fawkes been screaming at me louder and louder to remember remember the fifth of November.
Finally I located the bedroom area and found a box spring (the whole reason I came in). I ask an employee, "how do I go about purchasing the box spring that I see?" She informed me that I had to write down the location shown on the art installation piece that was this bed and find it "In the warehouse". Blood pressure spike 03 (Gear 03 if you will) has now happened. Not only are they making me dance through a maze just to find a bed set, I am now hearing that I have to continue through the maze and cross the veil into some warehouse that exists at the end of the rainbow.
I now start to follow signs for the exit to the warehouse. Rather than being able to walk in a straight line to the final destination, the IKEA gods continue to laugh at me as I have to follow this maze for about another 20 minutes. I don't know if it was the fact that I was in store founded by a Nordic country or the caffeine was hitting but I felt a strong urge to bum rush my way through all of the partitions like a viking and create a straight line to the warehouse. I am a viking warrior with my Celsius as my axe.
Before I get to the warehouse I stumble upon the next blunder. There was a cafeteria. In what world does this make sense? You have a bunch of minimum wage furniture store workers hosting an art exhibition for furniture and you expect me to believe there is someone here who can make food not riddled with E. coli?? I did not try to sample any of the food as I was sure I would be eating a box of three small microwaved meatballs that would cost me $30.
Editor's Note: My new mission is to get Tyler cultured. A dollar dog or plate of Swedish meatballs may have been exactly what Tyler needed at this moment.
Finally I get to the warehouse and I locate my bed frame. I load it up with a cart I had to check three aisles to find, I go to checkout, I cannot find a bar code. I ask the checkout assistant what the problem is. He informs me "Oh this is just box 1 out of 2"
The blood pressure spikes have stopped. I have now turned into Christian Bale in American Psycho.
It takes all the energy I have to not inform this checkout assistant that he is in immediate danger (parody law). I have to make another lap through the warehouse to retrieve the second box. I walk back to the checkout line and I am able to pay as I make eye contact with the checkout assistant who will live in my memories for the rest of my life.
To get one bed frame I was in the store for 45 minutes to an hour. I believe this experience was my personal trial given to me by a higher power and I showed I was too feeble a man to accept the challenge. If I did not have my trusty Celsius in hand to give me strength I fear I may still be stuck in the human maze generated by a ChatGPT bot that is IKEA.
The Celsius was delicious though. 9.8 out of 10.