Tuesday, May 22, 2007


I am utterly exhausted.

A simple errand such as buying a bookshelf for my room should not have been this much of an ordeal. Yet it was, and I blame Ikea. Here's why.

I used to have a bookshelf when I was little. It was vine-shaped and made out of iron, small and always cool to the touch. Then after I moved to Japan my parents took the bookshelf out of the room, thinking I had left never to return. I did return though, and I brought all my books back with me. Yet for over two years I dithered on getting a new bookshelf, preferring to just stack my books in one vacant corner of my room, near my bathtub or under my bed. Books, newspaper articles and magazines were anywhere and everywhere, and it still never occured to be that I needed a bookshelf urgently. Someday I would. But right now? I had better things to spend my money on. Like more books.

Then last week I got seven more books on Greece & Persia, plus I bought a few more fashion magazines to add to my growing collection. And so I finally decided to quit procrastinating and drive to Ikea for an inexpensive but nice bookshelf for my literature.

I had been to Ikea before but forgotten how daunting it is. The building stretches for what seems a city block or more, with no windows and no way to get around without getting turned around. After making my way inside I wandered a bit aimlessly, trying to get my bearings. There was an area for living room furniture, for office furniture, and even dining room furniture, but what category did a bookshelf fall into? (short answer: library) I didn't see anything like that though, and in any case, I just wanted something small and tasteful. To my surprise I managed to find such a bookshelf, and for the reasonable price of $100. Satisfied, I scribbled down the ticket information on a receipt in pink lipstick (a writer without a pen and paper!) and then...had no idea to get down to the "Market Hall."

Embarrassed I decided to retrace my steps back the way I came (running into a dead-end or two) and luckily found the stairs. After making my way down to the bottom floor I grabbed a cart, pushed along to the designated aisle, and puzzled over the size of the bookshelf. Or rather, the length of it. My car is a Toyota Yaris, a great little car but not exactly a pick-up truck, and I wasn't sure how I was going to fit my bookshelf into it. Well, if worse comes to worse I'll just take it out of the box, I told myself.

After zipping through the line (luckily the store wasn't too crowded) I made my way over to the home delivery section. "How much is it to get this delivered to my house," I asked a tad breathlessly from pushing the cart around. "Eighty dollars," the woman behind the counter replied stone-faced. Eighty dollars!? That's almost as much as the bookshelf! I managed to stutter out something about trying to fit it into my car and pushed my cart outside. Eighty dollars! Who were they kidding?

As I pushed along I began to have the sinking feeling that I was not allowed to take my cart all the way out to where I was parked. Sure enough I ran into a sign declaring as much, and was forced to turn around. The loading zone was far from where I was parked, but I was going to have to drop off my stuff, walk to my car and then drive it to the loading zone whether I wanted to or not. I returned to the exit area and looked around for someone who could watch my cart while I ran to get my car. I asked one lady but she (nicely) explained that she was about to have someone help her get her stuff loaded and might be gone by the time I got back. After an employee had finished loading the lady's things in her car, I asked if he could help me. "Where's your car?" "Way down there," I explained, beckoning in a south-easterly direction. Unwilling to wait around in case he needed to help other customers, he told me "you need to take that inside," and pointed to my load. Losing patience (especially since I thought he might say that) I stalked into Ikea, shoved my bookshelf unwatched into a corner and sprinted to my car. After I pulled up and un-popped the trunk I dragged out my purchase. One look at my bookshelf and then at my car told me this was going to be a be a challenge, if it worked at all. It was time to see what I could do.

Remembering how my mom and I had managed to fit something from Bombay Company into another car years ago, I used my keys to rip off the tape and took the bookself pieces out of the box. It started off promising: the first bits were the actual shelves to the bookshelf and were nice and small. Things got dicy however when I pulled out the side panels. They were the reason my package was so heavy and long. I felt tears welling up. There was no way these tree trunks were going to fit into my car. Even if I rolled down the window the boards would stick out too far out. Even worse, I had taken my bookshelf out of the box so now I was going to either have to a) ask for a whole new box so that Ikea could deliver it, or b) go through a lot of trouble to have the boards put on top of my car and strapped down. Neither alternative was appealing. By the way, it's interesting to note that Ikea employees and patrons were walking past the whole time, but whether they really didn't see a 5'3" woman struggling with her purchase or simply chose not to I don't know.

Just as I was about to give up however, I decided to give it one more shot. I took the plank boards and angled them in the back seat so the ends stuck out my back window, and LUCKILY they didn't stick out too far. Or rather, I told myself they didn't as I fell exhausted into my front seat and turned the ignition over. As I drove I home I envisioned knocking down tree branches, cyclists or unsuspecting joggers, or even worse getting stopped by the police ("you're not allowed to stick lumber out your car window, Miss)." My luck held though, and now my bookshelf is safely in the house, ready to be assembled. How THAT will go is a different story...


Gabriele C. said...

80 bucks for home delivery? They take 10 or so here. The only disadvantage is that you might wait a few days until one of their trucks goes your route.

And Billy bookshelves fit into a Mercedes. :)

Crystallyn said...

Did you buy Billy?? We've been eyeing Billy but haven't bought it yet for the EXACT same reason...not sure how to get it into the car. So now we keep talking about our long lost Billy waiting for us at IKEA. Sigh.

But if Gabriele says that Billy fits into a Mercedes...hmm...we have a Jetta... I wonder.

Ray said...

Hey guys I work at the Ikea Loading Zone in Long Island. To fit a long box into a car is quite easy, especially if the box is not wider than a foot and a half. Simply lay back the front passenger seat as if someone is taking a nap. Make sure the bottom of the seat is all the way back too, taking advantage of any foot room in the front. Then push the the driver's seat up all the way close to the steering wheel as possible, (Back part of the seat and bottom part of the seat.) Then go to the back driver's door and stick the box in. Have it go out through the front passenger door and bring the back of the box towards the back window and lay the box parallel with the back of the front passenger seat. Now it should be laying in their perfectly. Now you can fix the drivers seat to as far back as you need to. And the reason for moving the drivers seat up was to create room for the box to enter through the back drivers door.

Your finished product should leave you with the bottom of the box on or near the floor in front of the passenger seat and the back of the box making its way up the seat, coming close to the back window.