The headline read:
This was horrible news! I already knew, of course, that Ikea had changed furniture forever, and I really didn’t like the way that turned out.
Once upon a time, furniture was a solid, functional item that burly men would deliver to your home. The burly men would place the furniture where you wanted it and leave, and you could begin using the furniture immediately. Within seconds, you’d be putting things in the furniture’s drawers, unless you had bought a couch.
This furniture would often last for years. You could move with it several times. If you grew tired of the furniture and you lived in Manhattan, you could just leave it on the street and know it would be part of someone else’s home decor the very next day. Or you could give it to your children and they could use it in their homes if, in fact, they ever moved out of yours. And if your kids thought you had “old people’s furniture,” they could keep it and eventually sell it as antiques.
But then the damned Swedes came along with their meatballs and their fish and their furniture. Now you have to go to these humongous stores where all the furniture seems to be beige, and you say, for instance, “I want that table,” but you’re talking to yourself when you say it, because there’s no one to take a deposit and tell you when your table will be delivered. Instead, you to go into their warehouse and march up and down the aisles looking for the number of the table you want, and when you finally find it, you learn that you’ve only located the table top, and the table legs are all the way on the other side of the warehouse, as if there might be an occasion when someone would only want table legs.
So now you have your beautiful new table, only it’s somehow been made flat and stuffed into boxes, and instead of being delivered by two burly men, you’re standing with it in the friggin’ Ikea parking lot, realizing that the box with the table top is just an inch or two too large to fit in your vehicle which, ironically, is a Volvo, but at least you didn’t have to put it together yourself.
But you calm down, and you tie the table to the car’s roof, and you drive down the highway at 30mph for fear that your new dining room table will become a projectile and end up in someone’s windshield. And since Ikea stores are never near where anyone lives, you have to do this for about an hour while drivers are zipping past you making very unScandinavian hand signals as they go by.
And now your new table is in your dining room, on the floor, in its box. You’re already exhausted, and you consider just eating off the box. But company is coming, so you endeavor to assemble the thing.
This is when you learn that there are no assembly instructions. There is no piece of paper that says “Take Part A, align it with Hole B in Part C, and attach it using Screw F.”
Instead, there are assembly graphics, because that way, Ikea doesn’t have to translate its instructions for all 28 countries in which it does business, and you don’t have to suffer with a dining room table that stands perfectly straight. You try to determine what the pictograph people in the illustrations are doing, and which parts they’re doing it with, and you become convinced that, if translated into English words, the graphics would say, “Take Part A, align it with Hole B in Part C, and Screw You.”
And even if you manage to get the thing together, and it’s straight enough so that things don’t slide off it, and you don’t have any mysterious parts left over, you’ll still be somewhat afraid that your Thanksgiving turkey is over the weight limit of what your table can bear.
As soon as you can afford to, you’ll replace this table with real furniture. If you live in Manhattan, you can leave the Swedish table out on the street and wonder why it’s still there days later, albeit with the legs missing, which means that either somebody else bought the same table but didn’t go to the other side of the warehouse for the legs, or that a homeless person is using the legs to hold up their refrigerator box.
So, all that is what’s going through my mind as I read:
IKEA’S NEW PROJECT COULD CHANGE RESTAURANTS FOREVER
Obviously, my thought is that, five years from now, I’m going to go into a restaurant and order a burger, except there won’t be anyone to order it from. Instead, I’ll have to go into the kitchen and find multiple flat boxes with the beef patty, top bun, bottom bun, cheese, bacon and lettuce. I’ll get it all to my slightly lopsided table and stare blankly at the assembly graphics, which look suspiciously like the illustrations on the restaurant’s “what to do if someone’s choking” poster. Three hours later I’ll be sweating buckets as I hold my meal: two parts of bun between a patty and two strips of bacon, with cheese and lettuce on top. Plus a pickle off to the side that I’ll swear was not shown in any of the instructions.
It turns out, however, that Ikea’s restaurant project is not a restaurant at all. Also, disappointingly, there isn’t even a Swedish chef involved. Ikea just wants to market hydroponic gardens to restaurants so that eateries can grow their own food.
Note to restaurants that buy into this: the meatball seeds are in Aisle 3.
Ses snart (which may or may not be “See you soon” in Swedish).