Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Working for free for Ikea

I read a story recently where Ikea has officially announced it is against forced labour.
Well no duh.
The Swedish furniture company stated it regrets prisoners in East Germany were used to build furniture for them some 30 years ago.
An Ikea official stated “at the time we didn’t have the well-developed control system that we have today and we clearly did too little to prevent such production methods.”
At least they are admitting their error, but they are still in the business of making people work for free as anyone who has bought anything from Ikea already knows.
What a great system they have going: you give them your money and spend the rest of the day putting their product together yourself.
I have assembled my share of Ikea items and most of the time they go together with very little bad language being used – most of the time anyway.
Of the myriad of Ikea creations I have assembled, only twice did I run into problems. In one case, a piece was missing and in the other case the pieces simply would not fit together properly, no matter what kind of colourful language I sent its way.
My favourite is when there are several pieces that are almost identical, but each must go in their own exact place or the entire operation is a bust. They do come with instructions, but those are about as helpful as a blind cab driver.
I learned it is nearly impossible to put a large Ikea item together by yourself.
They have a method to their madness and often you need one person to hold a piece of that press board stuff everything Ikea sells is made of while you attach another piece with those weird screw-bolt-nut thingys the Swedes seem so fond of.
On a rather large entertainment centre, we had to attach three smaller boards to the main board before putting the other side on while juggling squirrels and singing a traditional Swedish folk song.
We did get it together, but only after a short break and couple glasses of wine to calm the nerves.
The problem for me is my wife loves Ikea. Every time we are in the Lower Mainland she has to stop at the store to see what forms of home-based construction torture she wants to take home.
After building everything from small tables to a very annoying bunkbed that required me to line up 437 dowels all at once, we have run out of room for Ikea items.
Whew – it's about time.
We still stop at the store – despite my protesting – to 'look around' and to 'just see what they have.'
My wife always gets this glazed look in her eyes as she wanders through row upon row of items that all have 'some assembly required.'
What they should say is 'complete assembly required.'
Anyway, I have spent more time walking through the Ikea maze than any man should have to.

Anyone who has been in an Ikea warehouse knows what I am talking about. The Swedes are organized if nothing else and the store is laid out so you can go from one ‘room’ to the next in an orderly fashion. They even provide you with a little map of where each room is so you know that when you are done browsing the bedroom you can tour the livingroom and so on.
I often expect there to be a big piece of cheese at the end of the store when I am done navigating through department after department as I search for the only thing I truly care about: the exit sign.
We still pick up a few small items on just about every visit, but none of them come with instructions or generate the desire to poke a Swede in the eye with my worn out finger.

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