Entry 14: Damned Swedes

Quick! Name something good Sweden ever gave to the world that was not an actress named Ingrid Bergman. (Greta Garbo doesn’t count, either.)

Okay, I liked the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo books once I stopped even trying to keep track of the place names. But I’ve still got part of a Swedish Fish stuck in my teeth from a movie I went to in 1987!

And I’ll tell you a Swede I really don’t like: Ingvar Kamprad,

Here’s why:

The story of IKEA began in 1943 in the small village of Agunnaryd, Sweden, when Ingvar Kamprad, the founder, was just 17. Since then, the IKEA Group has grown into a global retail brand with 127,000 co-workers in 41 countries generating annual sales of more than 23.1 billion EURO.

That’s from the IKEA website, and there are a couple of things I’d like to point out about it:

1. See what I mean about Swedish place names?

2. Of course the founder of IKEA was 17 years old. Young people have all the time in the world to assemble furniture!

Talk about false advertising! You walk through their massive store and look at pieces of actual furniture and you pick something out and you go downstairs and get a flat box that’s more appropriately sized for a cheese tray than the dresser you wanted. And they don’t even give you all the parts in one box; it’s a la carte. The legs to a desk are in one aisle; the rest of the desk is literally 15 aisles away, as if you might want only desk legs. (“Hey, honey, as long as you’re going to IKEA, could you pick me up some desk legs?”) And then you get to the legs, and they are packaged individually, just in case you only wanted two legs and planned to support the rest of the desk with stacks of Swedish meatballs (which IKEA also sells!).

Now, as I mentioned in my last post, I’m not the handiest guy in the world. There may even be a few handier beings who do not have opposable thumbs. I also possess a severely limited supply of patience. And I expect assembly instructions, when I have to deal with them at all, to be structured as follows:

Step One: Insert the clearly labeled dowel into the equally well-defined sideboard. Be sure the sideboard is facing toward you with the 18 holes to the left, and the dowel goes into the third hole from the bottom on the right side no, not that one, stupid, the one above it, yeah, now you’ve got it.

Instead, IKEA gives you instructions that look like the “What to Do When Someone is Choking” charts in restaurants. Few words, lots of pictures and diagrams. I assume this is so they don’t have to translate the instructions for each of the 41 countries in which they do business, but I’m fairly certain that there’s some guy in France crumpling their instructions into a ball and flinging them into the lopsided, half-finished dresser that he now has to take apart because he used the wrong screw in step one.

And, by the way, is it okay if you have an extra dowel left over when you’re done?

See you soon.

(IKEA instructions for assembling Stonehenge from The Poke.

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One Response to Entry 14: Damned Swedes

  1. Pingback: Entry 73: Holey War | The Upsizers

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