Never in my life has assembling a piece of IKEA furniture been more frustrating than when I tried and failed at putting together this desk last week. It got so bad that at one point I was cursing and stabbing an inanimate object while screaming “Why are you being such a little bitch?” Furniture should never be this difficult to put together, which is why I eventually said “Fuck off” to this fucking desk. But before I got extremely aggravated throughout the whole process, for a few fleeting moments, I was actually looking forward to go furniture shopping.
A few weeks ago I visited my local IKEA and picked out a computer desk and matching drawer unit for the low low price of $149.99. Of course, since I drive a small two door sports car, neither the desk nor the drawer unit would fit into my vehicle. That problem was easily fixed by simply ordering the two units online and then paying a small amount of $39 for delivery. Not a wasted trip to Tukwila, Washington at all I reluctantly thought.
When the desk and drawer unit arrived a week later, I was ecstatic. I lugged both boxes up two flight of stairs to my apartment, went to work at the bar, and then was even more ecstatic when I was cut early from my shift at 7:30 that night that. I caught my bus home, picked up a bottle of chardonnay, and went to town putting together the future platform where I would sit and write blogs and stories for all of you to read.
The first mistake I made was consuming alcohol while trying to read those 20-30 page pamphlets that pass as instruction manuals, as if white wine was going to make me the whole process easier. First of all, they don’t write any actual words down on the pages. My guess is that way, they can use them as universal instructions and just put the same insert in every flat packed box of furniture. Even if I wasn’t drinking alcohol while putting this desk together, the instructions are so difficult to decipher, they might have well been written in hieroglyphics, which is pretty much what it looks like to me, regardless of my level of sobriety.
wtf is with that severed hand?
At least I was able to assemble the drawers for underneath the desktop, so then I put those aside and started to work on the actual desk itself per the instructions. This is where things got a little bit….unnerving.
I had to put the desktop together upside down while sitting on the floor of my apartment. I recently re-injured my MCL which if any of you are curious as to what that is, it’s the inside ligament that connects your knee to your shin bone which regulates movement and pivoting, two things that we should never take for granted. Needless to say, moving around with a torn MCL is extremely painful, especially when you are forced to sit on the ground and crawl around like a baby looking for one of the hundred pieces of hardware used to fasten part number 0112345 to part number 0112234. I wonder why IKEA comes up with funny and entertaining names for their furniture like the Poang chair, but then just gives up and assigns a barcode like number to every other piece of hardware to put that Poang chair together.
I was figuratively and literally not in my comfort zone at this point, though I was carefully “reading” the instructions and trying to make sure every calculated move was correct. After another fifteen to twenty minutes of dowel inserting and screw tightening, I could see the finish line in the distance. All I needed to do was attach the desktop to the bottom frame I just built, screw some more shit in, add in some more wooden dowels and it would pretty much be done, although to this day I still don’t understand how fat wood toothpicks hold ANYTHING that big together.
However, thanks to my shoddy knee and the uncomfortable position I was sitting in on the floor, when I went to pick up the bottom frame and attach it to the desk top, I somehow pivoted incorrectly which then made me scream in pain, which then caused the desk top to slip out of my hand and fall over backside onto the floor ripping out one of the important connector pieces, splintering the cheap wood, and creating a gaping hole where a gaping hole should not have been.
I screamed at “Fuck you” and other expletives at the desk, took another swig of my wine, but then was somehow able to jimmy rig the two pieces together for lack of a better term. It was at this point that I had to refer to the instruction manual to make sure I grabbed the correct four round “screw keys” or whatever the fuck they call them that I would then insert into the pre-drilled holes in the desk for everything to be held together tightly and securely. Of course, the instruction manual only slightly informs you that there are other screw keys that are smaller and look almost exactly like the ones you’re supposed use at this point in the installation, and even that attempt to inform me is slight indiscernible.
Needless to say, I put the wrong size screw keys in the hole, and when I finally realized this, I was unable to get them out of the hole. I tried really hard too. I used a needle nose pliers to attempt to remove them, but all I ended up doing was basically making the hole bigger than it needed to be, while little pieces of chipboard were being flung all over my living room carpet. Then, I fucking lost it.
I stood up, and in my drunken state of mind, I proceeded to destroy what was left of the desk. I kicked down the screws that I so carefully placed in the correct pre-drilled holes, I stabbed the desktop with the pliers making gashes in places where there shouldn’t be gashes, and I grabbed every part of that fucking piece of shit desk, stuffed it back into it’s packing container, dragged it downstairs like a dead body, and threw it in the garbage.
Then I sat there on the curb, just a deskless, frustrated, sweaty mess smoking a cigarette in total disbelief of the fact that I just wasted eighty bucks plus tax and shipping on one piece of furniture I no longer wanted, or was in any shape to be used for it’s intended purpose.
I was also in shock and awe at how angry I got at an inanimate object that basically was forty pounds of chipboard and screws that I fucked up. I went to bed that night drunk and disheartened. The next morning I woke up a little hungover, but I had come up with a devilishly genius plan that I put into action.
I called the IKEA customer service number at 8am. After being on hold for nearly 25 minutes, I finally got through to a human being. I thought to myself two things:
1. I couldn’t tell the truth or return the item in it’s current state because I had completely annihilated the desk the night before, and
2. I still had the separate drawer unit I had to put together which was fully intact in it’s original shipping container.
So I took a page out of the storyline of one of the characters from Orange Is The New Black. I told the customer service representative that I never received the desk. Can we say mail fraud?
Lying to get what you want is never a good idea and I don’t condone that type of behavior. But in this case, after going through what I went through the night before and the insurmountable pain and suffering that I endured, I felt like I had payed the price of admission so to speak, and besides, I knew that I could get away with it. First of all, the two items were just left on the stairs outside of my apartment building by FedEx. I didn’t sign for them, and one could say that because of that fact I could claim I “never received” one of them. Who could prove me wrong?
“I got home from work, and I saw the smaller package with the drawer unit on the porch, so I took it up to my apartment and just assumed that the desk would be coming in a separate shipment.” I said to the customer service rep.
“I guess people just steal things off porches here in Seattle. I just moved here by the way.” I said to her in my most helpless tone
I pleaded my case with absolute aloofness to the fact that perhaps someone stole the desk off the porch of my apartment. I even joked with her that if I was going to steal something, I would have taken the smaller, less heavy parcel. Maybe I was lathering it on too thick, but at this point, all I really wanted to do was to get a new desk and continue with the arduous process of putting it together so that it would match the drawer unit that I still had yet to put together.
Thank God I was an actor in Hollywood for 12 years prior to this event because I believe that experience gave me the wit, charm, and improv skills to talk my way into IKEA sending me a brand new Micke desk in a new shipment without me having to put out any more money.
“I understand.” The rep told me “These things happen. I’ll have a new desk sent out to you and send you an email when it ships.”
I thanked the customer service rep repeatedly, added a little more icing to the proverbial fraudulent cake that I baked that morning, and I proudly hung up and went ahead and started to put together the drawer unit, until once again it started to all fall apart right before the last step. How on Earth could this be happening two times in a row?!?! Why does IKEA furniture seem to hate me all of a sudden?
Luckily, I had not destroyed THIS piece of furniture like I destroyed the desk, so when I got frustrated again in the final minutes before it was a usable drawer unit, I finally said “Fuck this shit” and I decided to take it back to the store, cancel the new desk, and just ask for a refund for both the desk and the drawer unit. Unfortunately, when I got to the IKEA I didn’t have the original credit card I used to purchase these items on me, so I was stuck with two options.
1. I drive back to my apartment to get the card which was 25 minutes each way, OR
2. I cancel the order completely and have them put the refund amount on a gift card to be used at a later date.
I went with option two, being as that allowed me to put out the least amount of energy to get what I wanted. Sure, now I was stuck with still having to put together a desk from IKEA which could go horribly wrong again, but I’m sure they have some other items that might be easier to assemble without the need for a 35 step instruction manual. I picked out the most basic and easy to assemble desk table they had, making sure I looked up the instruction manual online before I committed to buying this item.
A week later, here I am awaiting the arrival of my new desk table which hopefully will not get stolen off my porch this time, because that’s EXACTLY what happened the last time, right? Hopefully, it will come together quickly and efficiently without causing my head and body so much self inflicted torture.
I learned two very valuable lesson from all of this. First, don’t try to put a desk together when you have been drinking a bottle of wine. Secondly, if at first you don’t succeed at putting together a piece of IKEA furniture while sober, don’t destroy it. Just give the fuck up and return it to the store. Politely explain how confusing and frustrated you got while trying to put it together and then go out and buy something that is pre-assembled. That way you won’t end up like me, a frustrated, human being with anger management issues that is currently lacking a desk in his life.
But if all else fails, and you know you happen to hate an item you received for whatever reason and you know you didn’t sign for it when it was delivered, consider the option of just playing dumb and say you never got it. Lying to get what you want is wrong, but based on my experiences, it will probably work that ONE time when you really need it to work.