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Saturday, August 13, 2011

IKEA fit quiz

The first time I went to IKEA was a big deal. Years of waiting certainly helped build up the anticipation. Years of nearly getting to a Belfast or London branch but ending up in Westfield or the Banbridge Outlet Village instead. Years of IKEA being the cheap and nice but unattainable, the Old Navy of the housekeeping world. From afar, I loved it. The  minimalist style, the slightly off-primary colours, the prices, the practicality. There was no downside!  The layout seemed to make sense, flat pack didn’t put me off and I liked the sound of the food.

On arrival, I was ready to be impressed. The bag and trolley combination was genius! The display floor inspired! Pregnant at the time, I actually, genuinely needed stuff.  Having a valid excuse to wander around the baby area and fill a trolley was truly wonderful.  My heart thumping, I drank it all in. Finally! I was there! But the IKEA virgin experience didn’t last. About three months later the meatballs, the marathon walk to the checkouts and the tolls on the motorway cured me. Now I hear the word IKEA and slump in a chair, exhausted by the mere thought.

Last week, when we needed a duvet and picture frames and stair gates, I put it off and put it off until a solution came to mind. I would send my husband. He checked availability online, wrote a list, walked around the house sighing and harrumping and gulping down tea as if it were the last cup on earth. Sitting at the laptop he expostulated “What! I don’t believe this.” and I looked over his shoulder. Instead of researching stair gate extensions he had been doing the IKEA Fit Quiz. To see if he is a suitable candidate for a job there. Why? Is he looking for a job? No, but for some reason, he wants to be wanted there anyway. Fuming, he starts anew, giving different answers this time. Again, he is rejected, being told that he is better suited to shopping at IKEA than working there. “So my money is good enough!” he growls. “You try it. We have to pass this.”

I go though the motions. What do I think when I enter a friends living room? How do I cope with a new schedule? Do I manage easily when my boss is away?  I make myself at home. I adjust to a new schedule. I assemble a group of talented colleagues to work with me. My responses reveal a hard-working, ambitious, environmentally friendly and considerate candidate. Each time I click on one of the multi-choice boxes a piece of furniture is added to a picture of a room on the right of the screen. At the end I click for results with a flourish and smile triumphantly. Before my eyes the room empties, couches, coffee tables and bookshelves fading away like ghosts. The results come up “Oh Dear, your room seems a bit sparse! Looks like you may not be comfortable in the IKEA culture.” I am gobsmacked. If I don’t fit in in IKEA, where do I fit?

Off he went, list in hand and chip on shoulder, leaving me in the kitchen with a dilemma. Do I waste valuable time thinking about this nonsense or do I get on with my life, feeding the kids and counting my blessings. The sun is out, there’s no school, it’s a good day!

Resistance is futile. I snap open the computer and plonk myself down. Maybe if I  advise my friend on three things that would make her living room cosier and write a suggestion for improved routines in the workplace?

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