how IKEA almost killed me
Upon our arrival in Germany, one of the first major tasks myself and the family faced was unpacking and making our three-story house a home. Which leads me to the story of how IKEA almost killed me.
When we moved in, the house contained a table and chairs, some foam pads for bedding and a few miscellaneous items. So clearly not much. My first duty as au pair was to fill the house. “Come again?” I thought to myself — how could I possibly know how to furnish this household to suit my new family’s taste? To be honest, I had serious doubts that I would be able to effectively and efficiently furnish a household in general. Sure, I’ve had some experience with moving in college, but nothing to this extent. Back in the day, I had all my pots and pans and every knick-knack kitchen utensil possible handed to me. Here, I was starting from scratch.
Nonetheless, this was apparently my responsibility so with an IKEA catalog scribbled with notes and my two little ladies in tow, off to the store we went.
The trip there was half the battle. You see, in Germany all of the cars have manual transmissions and before arriving to Boston, I’d only driven automatic. The parents took me out on a few driving lessons considering all I would be driving in Germany would be stick. All I can say is that a few more times around the block probably would have helped. Driving a foreign car while learning (quite quickly) the ways of the German traffic system was difficult enough, not to mention that I had precious cargo to escort. Thankfully we arrived at our destination safely, though my nerves were a bit shot by then. But there was still a house to furnish, and I still had to navigate a mega store with two small children at my side.
For anyone that has visited IKEA, you know that you must commit a day’s worth of time there. First off, you’d be insane to come in for 25 cent candles and wait in those long, meandering line for what seems like an eternity. It’s basically an all-or-nothing outing. With that said, I was determined to get everything.
After filling up on Swedish sausage, we ventured off into the land of build-it-yourself furniture and plastic everything. I spent hours trying to find items on the list and essentially came up with nothing. My patience was starting to deteriorate and so were the girls — zipping around in the shopping cart only held their interest for so long, but they did love the swivel chairs. We spent enough time testing each chair that I could have easily become a sales woman. And of course, the swivel chair was not on our list.
With the girls on their feet, my focus on household objects grew dim. Now buzzed on orange soda, the girls were touching, grabbing, pulling and pinching everything in sight, including me. At that point, my only focus was to get out of the store alive.
Several hours later and hundreds of Euros lost, the doors were sliding closed behind us. The not-so-smooth drive home still managed to put the girls to sleep. I had succeeded. With some minor cuts and a little hair-pulling, I (somehow) got what I needed. Lesson learned, you’ll never be ready for IKEA.
In hindsight, life in Bonn did get off to a bit of a rocky start, but how could I have thought differently? If anything, now I can look back on everything and get a laugh out of it. Sometimes I wish I could foresee the future and understand the meaning of everything. But what’s life without all the trial and error?