I know I am the last person on planet Earth to say this, but I went to an Ikea store. Wait. Back up a bit. I have heard Ikea mentioned in conversations for years. Online, I know Ikea from its’ starring role at Make. In my mind, Ikea was a Target filled with assembly-required boxes of home decor. My imagination was slightly off-target.

Doug and I realized we were looking at the building at the same time. It was probably visible for more than a mile and we didn’t know that the mall sized monstrosity was our intended destination. We made deer in headlights faces while uttering comment after comment about the size of the building before we giddily made our way up the escalator into the unknown.

At this point in our adventure, we panicked. There were suddenly multiple escalators and lines of people going different directions. Where were the tour guides? Some people had giant blue bags and others had lift trucks. We were only there to look, so we opted out of both. We stumbled in line behind the obviously more experienced Ikea shoppers until we saw the first merchandise. I’m sure there are rules and rhythm involved in slipping in and out of the people train to actually stop and look at things, but we never figured them out. Our method was to slip out of line whenever there was a pause and wait for a gap to jump back in the line. It meant we missed a lot of the clever room displays, but honestly, there was so much STUFF that it was impossible to see everything anyway.

You know how you make a mental pricetag in your head before looking at the actual price? The “I’ll only buy it if it’s less than __ ” pricing game? Ikea is a baaaaad place to play that game. We had made it safely down two or three hallways before we started seeing things we didn’t know we needed. This was the point where, once again, I wished for a tour guide. Write down the information and location? Seriously? I broke the rules I didn’t understand by standing still and searching for an iPhone app made just for Ikea shopping. There’s NOT an app for that. I took pictures of the item information tags.

We were ill equipped for the grueling marathon that is a visit to Ikea. We were in there so long that even though I felt completely dehydrated, I still had to take three potty breaks. I should have had a CamelBak. And a catheter. I was so tired that we completely bypassed the lighting displays and I stumbled through the kitchen tools area whining that I needed a wheelchair instead of looking at the gadgets. The first thing that someone said when I told them I just visited Ikea? “OMG! My favorite section is the kitchen area. I always find something awesome there.” The second thing I heard? “You bought one of the blue bags didn’t you?” No, I didn’t buy a blue bag, because I HAD NO GUIDE. I didn’t know Ikea bags are perfect for Sam’s shopping trips. You know what people said about Ikea before I went? They told me I needed to go there. That’s it. No advice. Nothing. Dude. Friends don’t let friends visit Ikea without a guide.

Pssst, look what I got at Ikea. It’s the best souvenir ever. I’ll have to make another trip to Atlanta to get a blue bag.

Update: A care package came in the mail yesterday. It was a box FILLED with Ikea bags. Christmas in August! Thank you!

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