Saturday Endurance at IKEA or The Running of the Ikitarod

It seemed the most apt picture for this post. © Copyright Bill Boaden and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The Boffin and I spent the morning at IKEA. A Saturday morning. This is something we rarely do for good reasons. He has more patience for the IKEA Saturday crowd than I do. Me? I call some of them IKIDIOTS, an isolated group of shoppers who ruin it for the rest of us.

For people who are not familiar with IKEA, it is a furniture/home store originally started in Sweden but now based in the Netherlands. Its business model is based upon lower cost, modern design furniture that you put together. (My in-laws called this suppository furniture because you put it up yourself. Fantastic!)

IKEA has grown massively worldwide and is a staple in Europe and in U.S. metro areas. So, the reason IKEA is especially crowded on the weekends in the States is because that is when those who live further afield have the time to get to the stores. I understand that, and I make allowances for people who do not know how IKEA works normally.

But some people are just…um…yeah.

Saturday, Sunday, and holidays are when the IKIDIOTS commence the race that I call The Ikitarod.

Like any endurance race, The Ikitarod has several phases.

  1. Revolving Door Obstruction – The IKIDIOTS always manage to hamper the sensors of the huge revolving door at the entrance causing it to stop. Then they just look around and not actually move their bodies in order to deactivate the sensors. The door actually does not move again until about 5-10 minutes later when the IKIDIOTS figure out they are the cause of the problem.
  2. Atrium Gazing – Once they get past the door, they stare all around at the huge open atrium while standing right at the foot of the escalator, once again, blocking any forward movement. At this miraculous moment is when they realize that they need the pencil, blue product slip, and yellow bag. Then they will go retrieve the items.  Take advantage of your chance to get up the escalator because the IKIDIOTS will return to the same spot to stare at the dining table and six chairs on the floor display.
  3. Sign Search – Upon finishing the ride up the escalator, the IKIDIOTS proceed to look for signs directing them where to go next even though there are arrows on the floor guiding the path. Looking for these signs requires them to stand directly in the middle of thoroughfares, including right at the top of the escalator.
  4. Cart Procurement – Next on the agenda for the IKIDIOT is cart procurement because why block pathways with just their bodies when they can use a portable hunk of metal in an awkward way too? And they only need to push around a pack of napkins, a bag of tealights, their yellow bag, and a dustpan apparently. But don’t worry that is not the end of their purchases because…
  5. Restaurant Stop – The IKIDOTS must stop in the restaurant, having left their carts on the periphery to take up the cause of customer obstruction. They grab the dining tray carts and bash them into your ass when all you want to do is order some meatballs in peace. Then they leave the dining carts around at random while they go off and accidentally grab other people’s shopping carts because everyone else’s has napkins, tealights, yellow bags, and dustpans.
  6. Shopping – Shopping for IKIDIOTS usually means a lot of wandering, trying to figure out tags that give complicated product locations like AISLE and BIN, and wondering what those funny names for those coffee tables actually mean. These activities are very engrossing because…
  7. Sprog Search – Their kids get bored and wander off. They usually end up in the Children’s section on the spinning egg chair.
  8. Large Furniture Pick-Up – Now the fun part comes when the IKIDIOTS either exchange the shopping carts for the flat carts or try to handle both kinds when it comes to picking up the large furniture. They forget how physics really works. At least they forgot how two different kinds of matter cannot occupy the same space, and some things are just too large and dense for certain spaces which leads to…
  9. Customer Injury – They will hit someone as they get that BILLY bookcase off the shelf and/or…
  10. Property Destruction – They will knock over the plants in the nursery section as they look for one last thing even though they have a full HEMNES entertainment center in tow.
  11. Checkout Annoyance – Being too cheap to buy the blue shopping bags, the IKIDIOTS get all butthurt, complain, and try to sneak out of the store with the yellow ones.
  12. Loading– Then they leave the store and come to the realization that the sofa they purchased cannot be adhered to the top of their Volkswagen Passat with twine and Blu-Tack. Then they hog a loading space for an inordinately long time while other people are needing to get in to take care of their purchases.

The cinnamon rolls can wait for mid-week shopping, my friends.

Pronunciation is Everything.

The Boffin, The Sprog, and I are currently researching venues for her upcoming Bat Mitzvah.  I was looking at a site that had an 80s arcade and saw that they had a favorite game of mine, Galaga.

Seen here with another favorite of mine, Ms. Pac Man. I lost hours of my life with these two. Photo courtesy of Brian Katt at the English language Wikipedia

Upon mentioning this to The Boffin, his response?

“Which one? The game or the guy with the watermelons?”


It took me a few seconds to figure out who he was talking about since Gallagher had not crossed my mind in years.

Now I am waiting for him to bring up The Gong Show and Charo.

A Cup of Tea

By Ian Pegg – Own work, CC0,

I know we have been seeing a lot of bad news, conflict, and general mess wherever we go lately. I am not trying to trivialize any of it, but I just want to offer the virtual form of the British panacea to show that there are still bits of comfort still there in the world to be cherished.

Pretend it is coffee, if you don’t like tea.  I aim to please.  You can look up pictures of your favorite biscuits to go with it.

Let’s Redefine Pussy Grabbing. Think of Mrs. Slocombe, and Support Your Favorite Animal Charity.

Courtesy of PBS, Are You Being Served? made its way over to our side of the Pond a long time ago.  For those not familiar with the show, the BBC sitcom is all about the adventures of the staff of the Grace Brothers department store in London.  It may be arguably the sitcom that is the most highly concentrated with innuendos and double entendres in the history of British television.  (I am willing to hear nominees for other shows.  The Boffin volunteers ‘Allo, ‘Allo and Hi-De-Hi.)  If you love that sort of comedy, seek this series out.

In order to lighten things up and get some perspective today, I think we need to honor one of the characters of this show, Mrs. Slocombe.  Mrs. Slocombe lived with her cat, Tiddles, but she never referred to Tiddles as her cat.  Tiddles was her “pussy,” and she never realized how she sounded when she talked about him as demonstrated in the 3 minute video below.

So I say we should all grab a pussy and treat it with love and care the same way Mrs. Slocombe did with hers. Or grab a puppy or another furry friend. In other words, if you can, consider going to your nearest animal shelter and adopting a new fluffy member of the family. We adopted Lola at Kay’s Animal Shelter in Arlington Heights, IL and were very happy with our experience.  And if you can’t have a pet, you can also donate your time, supplies, or money to your favorite animal charity.

As you can tell, I grabbed my pussy without her consent.

Feel free to share the links to your favorite animal charities in the comments below.

As a side note, when I came up with the idea for this blog post, I wondered what happened to Mr. Slocombe. We were in bed, and I was about to drift off to sleep when this thought popped into my head. Not knowing was going to bother me, so I made The Boffin stop his game on his tablet to look this tidbit of information up. He has learned over the years to give in to these ridiculous requests or else he would not get any sleep either. (Yes, I feel sorry for the man too.)  Anyway, it turns out that Mr. Slocombe stepped out to Sainbury’s to get some slightly salted butter, never returned, and became a successful land developer.

You can go on with life knowing this now.

The Boffin and I Get Favorite Treats Courtesy of the Continent.

The fine shop of KD Market in Wheeling, IL can be a lifeline when we want a taste of what we had in the UK despite it being a Polish grocery store.  Considering that quite a few candy favorites are made on the Continent, it should not be a surprise that we would find what we would need.  Also, we have a large number of immigrants from Poland and other Slavic nations in the Chicagoland area, so importing these products at lower prices from these places instead of the UK is a basic economic supply and demand factor.

Now, what kind of stuff can I get?  For example, to confuse those not familiar with these candy differences…

The Mars bar in Europe is like an American Milky Way only it blows up a little in your mouth like shaving cream.


But a Milky Way is closer to a Three Musketeers.


And a Bounty bar, which I have mentioned before on this blog, is supposed to be like a Mounds, but a Mounds is closer to chocolate-covered sawdust. I was not going to dip sawdust for the purposes of a photo.  Notice I bought the dark chocolate one for The Boffin because I am a Nice Wife ™.


Of course, I had to indulge in some Toblerone because they had the snowtop kind. We were still working on the holiday bar, but I had to do it.


Yes, that is a phrenologist’s head in the background wearing The Boffin’s yarmulkes.  That’s how we roll.

Chocolate bars weren’t my only purchase. I also found some biscuits, but not just any biscuits…McVitie’s Chocolate Digestives.  Fist pump!


They are made in the UK for the German market.  The question is…are they the “most loved British biscuits”?  How much truth is in this advertising?  McVitie’s probably corners the market, but how loved is the chocolate digestive compared to the custard cream?  How do you rate that kind of love?  Does one love one child more than the other?

Some of you, don’t answer that.

Nevertheless, when I said the store had the dark chocolate ones, The Boffin got all sulky that I didn’t buy those even though I presented him with a dark chocolate Bounty.  He’ll live.  I promise.

Moving on, I remember there was a palaver about not being able to bring Kinder Surprise or Kinder eggs to the United States through customs.  Kinder Surprise or Kinder eggs are (a layer of milk with a layer of white) chocolate covered plastic eggs with small toys inside that you have to assemble.  From what I understand, they are still on the banned list, as far as the U.S. is concerned.

Now, I just want to disprove the notion that we are not against giving our children candy and toys in egg-shaped containers on which they can choke.  I present as evidence the Gold Standard in lollipop, Chupa Chups.  In my opinion, Chupa Chups are the Jelly Bellies of the lolly world.  Anyway, notice there is a booklet attached.  It is basically says in just about every single language used in Europe, “This candy has a toy.  Not suitable for under 3-year-olds.  Your sprog could choke or inhale said toy.  Don’t leave your kid alone with this, dumbass!”


And I have seen other chocolate eggs in the ethnic markets here, just not Kinders, so I do not know what is going on there.  Regardless, here is the suction cup monster from my egg.  I think he’s cute.  I’m calling him Donny.  He can hang out with my rubber chicken.

I Mumble; Therefore, I am Angry.

After 15 years of marriage, The Boffin and I still cross our communication signals like all couples do.  We join the Mutual Irritation Society over my mumbling.  It’s simple.  I mumble to myself to process my thoughts.  He automatically assumes something is wrong and asks if I am OK.  I get annoyed that he assumes that I am angry yet again.  He gets annoyed that I am annoyed that he is looking out for my welfare.

And so it goes.

When it happened yet again this morning, we knew it was a blog post.  The Boffin said, to him, it’s an environmental thing.  Where he grew up, muttering to yourself meant that you were angry, and he can’t escape that social conditioning.

There is a popular Twitter account called Very British Problems that has even turned into a TV show.  It discusses the stages of anger.

The Boffin thinks that needs to be compressed a bit.

In order to severity:

1) Look everywhere else but at the person

2) Shake your head slowly, outside of their peripheral vision

3) Mumble

4) Tut

5) Stare aggressively at the back of the offender’s head

6) Invade the offender’s 2ft personal space radius

7) Engage them in polite conversation. Persist until they leave.

I can’t help but think his being in America so long has him resorting to the nuclear option of engaging in polite conversation.  And I am not sure where writing letters falls into this.

Regardless, back to our marriage, he knows when I am truly angry because I am a slow burner who goes silent.  I can control my temper very well, and someone can intervene to keep me calm and reason with me when I am on the edge.

But when I go…well, as far as having a “fight or flight” impulse, The Boffin has stated that there is not much flight in me.  I mostly have “grenade or baseball bat”.  Let me put it this way, whenever I take a The Big Lebowski personality quiz, Walter Sobchak always shows up.

And no, I don’t roll on Shabbos either because I can’t bowl to save my life.

It is a case of my husband knowing my true personality vs. a conditioned response.

Some will say we are perpetuating stereotypes by proposing this idea. It is a valid comment. Of course, not all Britons mumble when they are angry and not all Britons would interpret mumbling as anger.

However, we are also talking about communication and how society agrees on what gestures and actions mean. Verbal language is hard enough, and we have dictionaries and other reference materials as guides. The Boffin is not the first British person who has interpreted my mumbling as “She’s in a strop,” which is something I have never encountered on this side of the Pond.  My mumbling has been interpreted as confusion over here, which is a different stereotype altogether.

So I can only give you my narrow experience with this, and I know it is not definitive. It would be interesting to hear how others have had their actions interpreted internationally.