IKEA. The haven of primary colours. Where life is compact, affordable, empowering in the sense that you can do it yourself without having to measure and cut. Simply follow the arrows, throw a Dime Bar cake to the back of your mouth and pop things in your trolley, things you would never have dreamed of popping in your trolley, the squirrel, bear and rabbit figurines in RÖRD decoration for example, which, come to think of it, would look gorgeous in front of that picture of James Dean.
But one thing you don't do is wait.
In the kitchen section, the lady says it'll be just ten minutes. You want to caress the Swedish pine upon which she swivels. Ten minutes tick into 60. Just as well you brought a book. It's about a 9 year-old foster kid who misses his mum and you wonder whether you should have grabbed something more upbeat. An Elle or an existential novel written by Paolo Coehlo.
So you flick through the IKEA catalogue. You fan yourself with it, check your phone for natural disasters and war. After two hours you think of first degree murder. Wilful and premediated. The grating, pounding, liquidising, or chopping up with a Vorda fillet knife of the victim in yellow and blue.
By the time Sylvie accompanies you to table 8 to order your new Ikea kitchen, you have dissected all visible shop workers and pickled their body parts in Korken jars. Because it's been three hours, Sylvie is not human anymore. She is a clicker of pens who has made you marinate in impatience and she certainly does not deserve a smile. Your peripheral vision shrinks to the size of a nut.
Her computer tells her how long you've been prisoner of the kitchen department and she offers a little empathy. Even if you flinch at every click of her mouse, you end up softening a little.
Inside the queue, people shove cardboard box coffins onto conveyor belts and you start wondering how you're going to finish all the things you wanted to do today before it gets dark and you have to prepare supper and wash the kids and read a story about child astronauts who find their way home.
You then see a boy with Down syndrome two customers ahead of you. He has teenage fluff on his face, a few pimples, and he's playing with his mother's hair. You stare.
His fingers run through the mousey-brown like a comb, he tips up his palm and examines the strands as if they were the most beautiful thing in the world. He gathers her hair into a paintbrush and with it strokes his face. He then drops it and races towards a packet of Munsbit snacks at the counter, 'the small things that make a big difference' and pokes them with his index, creating a crater. He runs over to some younger kids, waves. They don't wave back but he doesn't care because it's their turn to beep now, and with every beep he jumps. Lampshade. Beep. Curtain rails. Beep. Salad bowl. Beep.
By the time you get to the check-out, you feel you have all the time in the world. The gentleman scans your order, beeps your vouchers and you hand him your credit card. You notice how lovely his forearms are. "Paiement refusé" the card machine says.
There's a man, two customers behind you, shifting weight from one foot to the other. He's giving his Ikea trolley bar a California massage.
"Some of us are in a hurry", he says, tapping his watch as confirmation.
"Is it really necessary?" you say to him, knowing that you're going to have to come back tomorrow with a cheque book to pay again, but that surprisingly it doesn't really matter.
He huffs and consults his mobile phone. He has somewhere to get to.
10 minutes ago, you were this man. The one with tunnel vision and frustration steaming out of all orifices. The speedy boarder, the traffic light beeper, the one who tuts at the post office because old age takes so fucking long. The one who thinks he is entitled to the right-away, to unlimited access, to having things on a plate because everyone, don't you know, is working for him. And he is essentially better.
You look at the boy in the distance, using the trolley as a skateboard out the sliding doors. For him, every single thing thumps and rings with life. All that counts is what's happening now, as if he's yelling to the universe - "what's the point in having all this stuff around us if we never ever look at it, silly people?"
You understand that this kid has made waiting an art form. And you cannot fail to note that the conclusive point somewhere in the future - the dental appointment, the dinner, the place that man just has to be - is in fact nowhere at all.Suggest a correction