First up, the good news. After four months of unemployment, I am returning to work. Sure, at a reduced salary, but still better than unemployment. So, next week, I will be joining the work-from-home crowd.
To celebrate, my parents graciously offered to buy me a desk to aid in my new work-from-home status. After not being able to find one on the local reseller market we decided to venture forth into Virusland, to a place known as IKEA.
IKEA. Swedish for “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”
The first sign that this was going to be a shit show of epic proportions was having to park out in the lower forty. I had never seen so many cars in an IKEA parking lot even in pre-pandemic days. Had we not driven so far just to get there, we would have turned around and went home.
“But maybe it will be okay,” I think. “Because look out way, way yonder. They have everyone winding through a Disneyland-sized queue between big steel gates like cattle. And what’s that by the door? Why yes, an IKEA employee clicking away at a counter to make sure there aren’t too many folks inside. See, all will be safe and socially distant in this Swedish wonderland of cheap furniture.”
We wound through the queue, walked past the counter-clicking employee, and up the escalator. Only to realize it was too late. There was no escape.
Apparently, the counter-clicking employee was only there for show, to offer a false sense of security. IKEA had absolutely no intention of limiting how many folks entered the killing fields because we were packed in like sardines in a COVID-can.
I don’t handle crowds well in the best of times, so this was my own private apocalypse. People were everywhere. And not hey-we’re-all-in-this-together type people, but I-only-care-about-myself type people. You know … Americans.
I have literally never seen so many people in an IKEA. I had to check my calendar to make sure I hadn’t missed Thanksgiving the day before. Forget limited capacity or social distancing. We couldn’t take two steps without bumping into folks. We had to time our movement like we were playing Frogger.
However, much like this pandemic, once you are at the top of the escalator in IKEA the only way out is through. So we pushed on, only to find that every single item we were interested in … every single one was out of stock. Once we got to the warehouse portion of the place, it was amazing how empty it was.
We walked out empty-handed, dejected, and, quite honestly, scared once again at this new world we live in.
We have spent hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars at IKEA in the past. Never again. The only thing that will ever get me back inside an IKEA is if one of my kids runs in on accident … and maybe not even then. The utter lack of concern IKEA has for the safety of its patrons and its employees is shocking.
Also, the utter lack of compassion we Americans have for one another is so disheartening. If something like this pandemic isn’t enough to unite us, then what is? There is nothing like rubbing shoulders with your fellow Americans to be tempted to think, “Hell, maybe Thanos was right.”