CHAT: Hymn to Ikea (was: Re: Re: CHAT: F.L.O.E.S.
|And Rosta <a.rosta@...>
|Thursday, February 26, 2004, 1:49
> Quoting And Rosta <a.rosta@...>:
> > Tristan:
> > > I have a job at IKEA.
> > I'll thank you not to mention such unspeakable things!
> > If I ever organize an international terror network
> > of mujahideen sworn to destroy the canker that destroys
> > the fabric of virtuous society, its target of targets
> > will be that swedish fount of evil. Like most people,
> > I used to be mildly pro-Sweden until I was cast into
> > the inferno that is I**a. Now blue and yellow -- and
> > the Scandinavian style consensual egalitarian social
> > democracy embodied by that den of iniquity -- fills me
> > with unutterable horror.
> I'm not exactly IKEA's greatest fan, but what exactly
> makes it a "fount of evil" and an "inferno"?
First of all, Andreas, you must understand that I have
nothing against Swedes as individuals. I have nothing
but the tenderest sentiments for Swedes: you and
Ingrid Bergman are examples that spring to mind
"Fount of evil" is a slight exaggeration; but "inferno"
isn't. Old timers will already have heard my Ikea rants
(not just a peculiarity of mine -- somebody set up a site
called www.ihateikea.com, to act as a forum for the many
possessed by the same searing antipathy, but got
threatened with a lawsuit by Ikea & had to take it down),
so I will be brief. (Note, incidentally, that anti-Ikeaism
has two distinct strands, the one a sibling of anti-
Starbucksism, which opposes the coercive commercial
homogenization of culture and lifestyle, and the other,
which is the strand I am affiliated to, which believes
Ikea to be guilty of crimes against not culture but
1. You cannot truly apprehend the meaning of smugness
until you have experienced Ikea. Perhaps it is a more
general Scandinavian trait; I suspect it is, but will
not point the finger of accusation.
2. For furniture too complicated to build yourself, there
are few alternatives to Ikea; everything else is too
crappy or ill-designed or too outrageously expensive. Ikea
now has a near-monopoly over this key market niche which
used to be filled by much less odious stores.
3. Ikea stores are located in locations that it requires
a hajj to reach. You cannot pop out to Ikea. You cannot
visit Ikea as part of going to the shops or going into
town. No, you visit Ikea as part of nothing but visiting
4. Once you enter you cannot leave. The store is laid
out exactly like the alimentary canal: just as food
enters the mouth and passes through miles and miles
of intestine winding around itself, finally to emerge,
in a very sorry state, at the anus, thus does the
Ikea customer's experience go. Ploughing on and on
through hot and airless places packed with sweaty crowds
you must go.
5. Ikea is based on the thoroughly democratic principle
that everybody, regardless of class or income, should
have a horrible time. With, I'm sure, the honorable
exception of Tristan's store when he is on duty, all
service, all help, and all succour are equally
unavailable. The items of furniture you require are
harder to find than the holy grail. If you do find the
holy grail, the Ikea holy grail is of a type that
requires various additional meaninglessly swedishly-named
sprockets, which are equally impossible to find. Say you
do find them, though: well, then you must find a trolley.
Where are the trolleys? Several miles away. Off you trek.
You find the trolley place: there aren't any, but the
queue of people waiting to claim one if some arrive is
miles long. Another few hours later you have your
trolley. You manhandle your three wardrobes and a settee
onto it. Around you are sundry grannies and other people
with less brute strength than you; standing helpless
beside their wardrobes that they are powerless to heft,
they look at you with a plaintive envy. But it's every
man for himself here; you need all the strength
you can muster just to make it out of here; tarry to aid
the more feeble, and they'll drag you down with them.
A trolley with three wardrobes and a settee on it
can -- by the strong -- be pushed; but it cannot be
steered. Yet to buy your goods you must navigate your
trolley through more miles of narrow and crowded
chicanes. Glossing over this agony, let us fastforward
to when you have paid -- which process requires you
to single-handedly unload and reload your trolley.
You then discover that Ikea do not deliver goods to
your home, for surely every decent citizen drives a
car -- a Volvo estate presumably. -- I cannot continue
the narrative: recollecting the tribulations is taking
too high a toll on my sanity.
6. You get the stuff home. Of course, 10% of the
components of the furniture you still have to assemble
are broken. Another 10% are simply missing. Try phoning
the store and rue the day: yes, the phone will sometimes
eventually answer, but when it answers it will merely
play you muzak. No: you have two choices: build 80%
of a wardrobe, or take everything back to the store,
queue for a refund, and repeat the entire process over
and over again until you learn to settle for the 80%
These are just a few of the many reasons I'm not fond of
Ikea. In this short space I have not been able to do
justice to them, alas. Merely listing all Ikea's crimes
would take a large team of prosecutors many months if
> It occurs to me, BTW, that with a slight improvement of
> spelling _icea_ [itSa] could be a nice Meghean word. Now,
> "evil" is already provided for (_magel_, in honour of you
> know which conlang), so I guess it's gonna mean "good".
> Also, how do Downundrians pronounce "IKEA"? Some monstrosity
> like [ajki:@], no doubt? (Swedish [Ike:a])
Even [aj'ki:@] is insufficiently monstrous a name. Ideally
the k must be an ejective affricate with much scrape and
much imprecative expectoration.
ObConlang: the Livagian lexicon has long contained the word
_ikkhea_ [?ik'xe?a] (' = ejective), but I am surprised to
find that it means "goods and services provider whose services
are vastly inferior in quality to the goods provided. Examples:
a plush hotel offering no room service or where the reception
doesn't answer the phone; a high street shop with rude sales
assistants, etc.". Before looking it up in the lexicon, I had
expected that it would mean "is a living hell" or something
like that. I may have to remedy this incongruity.