Another busy day, but with an early finish. The German football team played this evening at 6pm so we closed shop early an hour beforehand. I expect it is the same everywhere these days, but if the national football team are playing there’s not much point trying to get any work done. The country shuts down, the roads are quiet and for at least two hours before kick-off everyone stops working even if they are still at work.
Everyone, that is, except for Ariane and I. We have a large balcony/patio at work where we imagined our employees would relax at lunch and return to their desks full of energy and enthusiasm. This year it hasn’t really worked out. It has either been raining or sunny and hot. But when it’s sunny it’s too hot to sit outside. So we have hardly been out there. With this in mind, we decided we had to buy a large parasol to give us a bit of shade out there. The best option, alas, seemed to be from Ikea.
I still remember when Ikea arrived in England. I know people complain about the furniture, but at the time it was a miracle. It was cheap, it all fitted together and wasn’t wobbly. The other “flatpack furniture” we were used to was so much worse that it is hard to imagine any of it ever got sold. I think Ikea arrived in Germany a few years later but now it is everywhere. There was a time when I didn’t mind going to Ikea, but that seems decades ago. The torture they put you through these days just isn’t worth it. That snaking route past everything they have just to buy one thing which is hidden away at the end of the labyrinth and then stand in line because there are never enough tills open and the self-check-out is temporarily out of service. It’s just horrible. For years I have avoided it and am grateful that Ariane doesn’t even ask any more. I particularly hate that bit at the end where they have all sorts of decorative objects and “lifestyle” objects. You always buy something you don’t need just because you can’t believe they can do it for that price. How many tea-light candles can a single family need?
Anyway, back to the story. At 5pm I suggested to Ariane that we quickly go to Ikea to buy the parasol because the place will be empty, what with everyone gearing up for the football. She had already been there on a reconnaissance mission and knew exactly where the parasol was that we needed. I had hoped she’d turn up with it but as it was 10 feet long and wouldn’t fit in her car that was asking a bit much. But all those other trips by Ariane hadn’t just been wasted on some more bowls, cushions or plastic waste-paper baskets like I thought. No, she had been perfecting the Ikea express technique! I was most impressed.
First she made me go into the right bit of the car park. Rather than going up three stories, we went down one and parked near the door. Then we raced in backwards through the self-service till area and loaded up our 10 foot long box onto one of those low-rider trolleys. I got the trolley with it’s 10 foot long cargo up to ramming speed and we cleared a way to the self-service till. Only two items to beep, pay with the card and within 5 minutes we were loading the car. It turned out that we had about 1cm spare room. We then drove back to the office and I assembled the whole lot in about half an hour without skinning my knuckles on an allen key.
Now I was on a roll, so I used a stanley knife to cut up all the cardboard packaging and was able to cram everything into the recycling bin at work. No extra trips for me to the tip on Saturday! I cleaned up a little and made it back home to watch the second half. Germany won 1-0 of course. That’s what they do. German efficiency they call it. I saw it at work first-hand today and I am very glad that Ariane personifies it. Well, sometimes – especially when a dour, impatient husband is in tow.