Brigitte Kiepert

how IKEA almost killed me

By - May 4th, 2010 04:00 am
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Our house in Bonn

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.

How lovely.

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.

My very bare bedroom

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.

The girls and I weren’t even 20 minutes in before we just had to stop for a snack. Thank you so much, IKEA, for placing your food court in the front of the store. I see how you work. You fill up all those hungry tummies so we fill up all your big shopping carts.

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?

Categories: Detour

0 thoughts on “Detour: how IKEA almost killed me”

  1. Anonymous says:

    i think i find your writings interesting because you have the make up of someone that could be a really good writer one day. I can’t exactly appreciate what it is that you are going through, but I admire your perspective. I’ve read a lot of stuff over the years and i can tell you with a little bit of practice, a little more thought, and a few more life experiences and you could be a pretty good writer if you wanted to be. that being said, these could be a bit longer with a bit more color.IE.. visualization… Good luck and remember just because you are working hard doesn’t mean you can’t have fun doing it. besides, you are learning a lot of stuff right now that more people your age could use and will definitely be beneficial to you in the future…like patience. 🙂
    keep it up.

  2. Anonymous says:

    for another way of writing about Ikea, check out the link in the text. The author of “How IKEA Almost Killed Me,” is young, but clearly talented. The author of the link, is 74 and has been writing since age 24…it takes time, patience and dedication…and yes, lots of trial and error!

  3. Anonymous says:


    Thank you for your feedback. I really appreciate you taking the time to do so. It is always interesting and quite valuable to learn how ones writing is perceived from the reader(s). With that said, I have given your comments some thought and have gained a better insight of myself as a writer and what I decidedly publish. Thank you again – I hope you continue to read my column.

  4. Anonymous says:


    I absolutely love your piece on IKEA. Your attention to detail is immaculate – I can vividly picture it all. Thank you for the comment and taking the time to read my piece. It is very much appreciated.

    ps. I grew up in Brookfield!

  5. Anonymous says:

    This was a really quirky story. Considering I have been a ‘victim’ of IKEA myself, the title got me straight away. I always say to my friends, that to test their relationship(s) they should go to IKEA. If they make it out alive that is only half the task, if they are then able to ‘build’ all the furniture without killing each other, then their relationship has substance! I have survived a few IKEA visits with my now husband! Glad you lived to tell your tail, especially with all the things going against you before you even got there!

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