Journey to IKEA’s parallel universe

Ikea - extra parts

This article first appeared in the Brisbane Courier Mail

Last week I went to IKEA for the first time.

After taking five steps inside, I was lost.

Earlier in the day I’d had two fillings replaced, so wasn’t at all interested when my sister asked me to meet her there.

‘You two nephews are here, and they miss their uncle,’ she added – cleverly using them as blackmail.

Once in Logan I couldn’t find the IKEA because I’d been born without a sense of direction, and the map on my phone was no help. The way that little blue dot was jumping around, it seemed to be as lost as I was.

IKEA - Shelf

Finally in the IKEA car park, I told my sister I was only ten minutes away.

‘No problem, we’re still shopping,’ she said.

She’d been at it for hours, and I couldn’t think of anything worse. The only task I’ve ever undertaken for longer than five hours without a break is sleep.

When I couldn’t locate the entrance, I closed my eyes and followed my nose to the sausage sizzle.

‘You look hungry,’ said the chief sizzler.

‘Mahawama,’ I replied.

My jaw was throbbing from the dentist, but the anesthetic hadn’t worn off sufficiently for me to make words. Then I touched my mouth and discovered long trails of drool at both corners.

Inside IKEA was filled with faux room interiors so spotless and bland, they could only be targeted at serial killers and budget hotels.

Wandering through them were dead-eyed couples in identical khakis and sandals, or women holding catalogues and dragging around pudgy males, who were probably only behaving in the hope that when they got home, they might get one of their balls back.

After taking five steps into IKEA I was lost, and when I tried calling my sister she couldn’t understand me.

Then I attempted to ask a staff member for directions, and they couldn’t understand me either.


So I got my sister to text me her location and tried to navigate there myself, which is the single dumbest thing I’ve done this decade.

There’s that path which goes all through the store that you’re supposed to take, but I’m too clever for that, and there were signs that promised shortcuts. However, these led me back to where I’d just been, or to places where there were no signs.

After thirty minutes of this, my sister texted to say she was ready to leave and waiting at the entrance, which I now couldn’t find.

Instead I found every single department, several times, the cafeteria and the loading bay. Where the staff all stared at me as if I was half man and half wolf, and when I touched the drool, I found it was now a bloody foam.

In the end, I managed to communicate with a staff member, who used the store-wide intercom to announce,

‘We have a young man with a learning difficulty who’s very upset, and lost his sister and their children.’

Which implied that the children belonged to both me and my sister, so caused nearly every shopper to stop and stare at me and my face, still covered in drool and foam.

IKEA - Breakups

Less than a minute later, I had a smiling nephew wrapped around each leg, and together they led me out of that place, as they had no trouble finding their way around.

This article first appeared in the Brisbane Courier Mail

Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian.

His second comedy memoir ‘Going Out of My Mined’ is available now.

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