Today, we completed our final outing to prepare for baby. This required the much dreaded and long avoided trip to IKEA. Now, if you are a U.S. reader, you are probably wondering, "Why would anyone want to avoid a trip to IKEA? The store is great! Everything you need for your home under one roof and reasonably priced!" Am I right? I admit, I used to feel this way about IKEA too, but then I moved to Asia. IKEA in Asia is a totally different shopping experience.
First, there are crowds. Terrible crowds. Everyone I know strategically plans their trips to IKEA to minimize the crowd factor. We are no different, always trying to arrive just as the doors are opening. Then, there are the customers. In Asia, IKEA is a family adventure. The local motto? Bring the family, stay all day. Try out all of the furniture. Go ahead, sleep in that bed. Don't be shy, bring in a McDonalds meal, and enjoy it in one of the dining room settings. Relax in a living room, just remember to provide toys for all of your children to play with loudly while you snooze on the couch. Seriously. I am not making this up - I have seen all of this and more at IKEA's overseas. Needless to say, Pat and I were not looking forward to our IKEA "adventure".
Fortunately, the gods were with us. We arrived early and found a car park quicker than expected. We made a beeline for the baby section. Mercifully, each item we needed was available. Then, we whipped downstairs, careful not to make eye contact with any item cleverly placed to take us off mission - come on, you know exactly what I mean. We gathered our final purchases from the warehouse. We were nearly there, our only final obstacle - the checkout counter. Now this can be tricky, because, pick the wrong line, and you extend your stay by the at least 30 minutes. Again, Lady Luck was with us. We selected a line with an efficient checker, and we were in and out in 15 minutes. She validated our parking, and we were free!
Once in the car, Pat and I congratulated ourselves on an extremely well-executed shopping experience - a classic mistake. Don't tempt Karma on your way to the exit. As soon as we attempted to leave the parking lot, we discovered, oops, our parking had not been validated. We were trapped. NOOOO! A near perfect trip was marred by our own arrogance in thinking we had outsmarted IKEA. On the other hand, as any IKEA shopper in Asia knows, one small hiccup is really to be expected when having an IKEA adventure! :)