Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Ikea Project From Heck

There sure is a lot going on these days, eh? What with the elections yesterday- Super Tuesday! And word is the writers strike is coming to a close so pretty soon all my pals will be back to work and TV will resume normal.

But I'm not going to be writing about either of these major news stories because I have been distracted the past 2 days by The Ikea Project From Heck.

Like many a disaster, The Ikea Project From Heck began with the best of intentions. The office needed a better, bigger storage and filing system, and so my boss and I went to Ikea and bought a whole bunch o' stuff from the Effektiv collection. There will be drawers! And shelves! And big cabinets! And little cabinets! It will be so organized and glorious!

On Monday, the Effektiv parts were delivered in 30 boxes (not exaggerating). And so I eagerly began tackling this beast of a project.

Why me? I don't know, I just sort of became the default furniture assembling person of the office. Which is funny because nothing about me would categorize me as "the handy one" or "the one who is good with power tools." But by this point I've put together a couch, 2 lounge chairs, 2 end tables and a laptop cart, so I guess I'm not THAT useless.

However, this Ikea Project From Heck was no ordinary chair or lil' table. This would require me to put together 30 boxes worth of furniture. And none of the drawer fronts or cabinet doors came with pre-drilled holes for the handles, so I was going to have to measure out and drill holes in 10 different things. This would be serious carpentry.

And so for the past two days, instead of putzing around on the internet from the comfort of my ergonomic desk chair, I've been crawling around on the cold cement floor of the loft space where I work. I have bruises on my elbows and knees and butt from rolling around in all manner of ridiculous positions, trying to get teeny tiny screws in remote corners of cabinets.

So yes, I'm really cranky from this whole thing. What made it all worse were the stupid directions that came with all of the various Effektiv parts. As I'm sure you've noticed in your young adult, crappy furniture lives, Ikea directions have no words. Just pictures. Just nonsensical, no labels, arrows pointing in all directions pictures. The point of this, I imagine, is so that Ikea can toss the same directions into every box they sell in every country from Singapore to Finland, and everyone can be equally confused. It's a small world after all.

Now, call me a snob, but I believe that since I went to all the trouble of being literate, I should be rewarded with WORDS to help me through The Ikea Project From Heck. But instead of words, Ikea offers a blobby little character that I call Gus.

Meet Gus:

Gus can't really speak, but he tries to communicate with you nevertheless. Here, he is telling you that you will need a screwdriver to assemble the furniture. He should probably also be telling you that you need a drill because later on you will discover that Ikea has only provided pre-drilled holes about half of the time and there is no way that man power alone can shove a screw through 2 inches of wood.

Now, here Gus is telling you that if your furniture arrives all beat up and crappy, you'll be sad. So, somehow go get furniture that is in good shape.

And here, he wants you to know that if you have a question, you should get on the nearest phone attached to an Ikea.

While these illustrations were obviously completely helpful, they did not fully prepare me for my Ikea experience. So I've drawn up a few more pictures that illustrate my journey through the assembly of Ikea's Effektiv office furniture. You should find these helpful the next time you undertake your own Ikea Project From Heck:

"Spread out in the middle of the office floor so that your coworkers have to step over you, the tools, and the furniture pieces all day long."

"Ask coworker who is clearly really busy with something else to help you change the drill thingies."

"Conceal mysterious 'extra parts' from onlookers who may start to question your abilities."

"Finally get the hang of drill. Commence power trip."

"Frustrated and near tears, bother coworker again because this one door just refuses to attach to its hinges no matter what you do and you are certain that Ikea just made it wrong."

"Do not stop at gym on way home because probably the day's activities count as exercise."

I still am not done with this project. I've spent a total of 17 hours assembling stuff. Lucky for me, I have to wait for the electrician to come in and move a lighting fixture that is in the way, so I am spending the morning relaxing and admiring my handy work on the other side of the room.


Inono said...

Gus has some unfortunate hands...

mindy said...

Have you ever considered being an artist?

Also, why is it that there are always left over parts? I don't get it.

A Lover and a Fighter said...

My family doesn't own (and therefore doesn't give me for free when I move, so also I do not own) anything made in this century, so I was relatively uninitiated to the magic that is Ikea until this past year (2007).

The false bravado I had adopted when opening the box(es) and attacking the furniture zygotes quickly dissolved into a grown up temper tantrum, complete with leg-kicking, throwing of papers, defiant shredding of "instructions," and endless (empty) threats to "call someone." Who was I going to call? Sweden? Come now.

In my opinion, Ikea's saving grace (other than affordability) is the highly entertaining christening of products- Effektiv and Dudero and the like. Pronouncing those things phonetically makes me giggle.

for extended ikea coverage of an old lady drying her hair, go to it's worth it- to me at least.

Sorry about the epic comment. Turns out I am passionate about this.

Peter said...

Words and pictures? Double threat!

The one with dude sneakily moving the extra parts with his foot, especially, made me laugh.

Hollywood Sucker said...

inono- maybe Gus's hands were lost in a furniture assembling accident!

mindy- Considered being an artist? Yes, but then I thought I better keep my day job(s) or I will be a homeless artist, drawing pictures on the sidewalk with chalk.

lover/fighter- I'm so glad you are passionate about this too. Perhaps we can start some kind of Ikea revolt. Or Ikea strike. I dunno, you come up with the clever name.

peter- i'm glad you enjoyed it. if you like, i can draw a picture of you too. it will look just like Gus, but wearing a baseball cap.

Vanessa said...

Ikea has a seductiveness all its own. I like the red cabinets, very cool choice. Assembly? While I am good at it, I don't relish doing it all my own. Good luck to you!