I love IKEA. I think I may have some sort of addiction to the place. I have friends who cannot bear it: The stress, the queues and the endless rows of cheap wooden goods. But as for me…I can’t get enough of it. My trips to IKEA are frequent it must be said and 9 times out of 10 I feel the urge to walk around the entire IKEA dotted line ‘guided tour’ (no short cuts allowed). It’s surely there for first time visitors, but I wander along it looking at ‘ideal’ rooms. I sit on the sofas, check out the new bargains and do what many before me have done and what many after me will do… I check the cupboards, fridges and ovens. They’re empty as always, but along with thousands of other shoppers I seem to think that one day there will be something inside.
No IKEA trip is complete without the full dining experience. Who doesn’t join the hoards of people who we all know have travelled to IKEA to order their portion of meatballs? The meatballs are the real reason for going. The meatballs are the nicotine to the IKEA addict. I was going to have my meatballs, “15 please”, and be ‘one of the club’. I didn’t imagine for one moment that all my IKEA trips, whether shopping, eating or paying would be caught on camera.
I was in IKEA last week. I wandered, I shopped and of course I ordered meatballs. When I reached the queue I noticed that the customer in front of me was having a rather heated exchange with the cashier over being short changed. A confrontation always makes a shopping experience much more memorable. I have to explain that I was in an IKEA in Holland and that the customer, like me, was not a Dutch speaker. The woman working on the till was having none of the ‘I’ve been short changed story’ and insisted she’d given money back. She wasn’t coping too well with the language barrier either. At this point I thought one would back down. The customer then started frisking himself in a kind of “look there’s no money anywhere on my person”. I had to chuckle to myself.
My meatballs were cooling down though and as entertaining as it was I wanted to eat. At this moment the 12 year old ‘manager’ arrived. If he’d been wearing a large S printed on his t-shirt I would not have been surprised. He asked what was going on and then announced, “We’ll check the cameras”. I was stunned. A debate over short change, and only €5 at that, was going to end with CCTV footage being studied and verified? The ‘manager, who was perhaps on work experience or on day release from nursery, whipped out his walkie-talkie (power oozing from his very being) and gave the orders to check the surveillance camera footage in the restaurant.
“I’m being watched” I thought to myself? I hope I wasn’t doing anything odd in the queue about 5 minutes previous to that? Someone in some room would be watching me on CCTV. I had a hunger to know who had the money now; more than my hunger to eat those meatballs …rapidly cooling meatballs at that. I reckoned it was be the woman on the till. Methinks she protests too much! (Didn’t Shakespeare say something like that?) Meanwhile I got served. I paid with my card, just to be on the safe side and went to eat. Of course while eating I craned my neck and watched the story unfold. The CCTV was checked, mini-manager (still oozing power) gave the nod and it was Customer 1 – Cashier 0. Like I said, I had my money on the cashier keeping it for herself. The customer wins! Watch out when you’re about…. The cameras are everywhere. I wonder if there’s someone watching me right now.
Big Brother I didn’t realise you were watching my buying habits.