The Ektorp, courtesy of http://www.ikea.com/
We need a new couch. Our current couch was new circa 1975 and it belonged to my mother-in-law. Sadly, it is not retro chic. It is brown. With beige stripes. And it is made of a peculiar, nubby, thoroughly unidentifiable fabric. But for all this, it has served us well ever since we set up home together. And it's a good length so you can stretch out very comfortably for a post-dinner snooze. But its time has come. Its cushions have become flat and depleted and there's no getting away from the fact that it's just plain ugly.
So it's simple, right? Go out, find the one you like, buy it, bring it home, sit on it. No. Not. So. Simple. We went to Ikea on Sunday and also Freedom, another furniture store which we have here in Australia. Now, having done my Net research, my plan was to go in, buy a 2-seater 'Ektorp' at Ikea in a suitably goes-with-anything colour which wouldn't show every little mark and get out. But then we sat down on an 'Ektorp' stationed near the door. "What do you think?", "I don't know, what do you think?", "Is it comfortable?", "Let's try the 3-seater", "Oh, they have a 2.5 seater", "What about the 'Beddinge'?", "Oh no, it's a sofa-bed", "That one's too expensive", "Well, that one looks a bit wonky"...and so on and so on until we'd walked through the entire store and bought a wreath for the door, a scented candle, a jar of Lingonberry jam and a bottle of Elderflower cordial but no couch. Then my DH said "Let's go to Freedom..." and the whole process began again...
Having had my memory jogged by Crazy Aunt Purl's latest blog to tell my Ikea-and-the-couch story, I will now take up another of her themes and express my dislike of self-checkouts at the supermarket. We have used them a couple of times lately and they are really quite useless in my view. Every time we have ended up having to call for help when the machine decided we'd done something it didn't like the look of and terminated our transaction. So, remind me, how is this saving my time and the supermarket's workforce (and, more importantly, money)? Aside from this, though, it is just another way of disassociating people. Soon, there'll be no need to interact with other people at all. For some this may be a good thing, but for me, I think it's rather nice to say 'hello' to a number of people as I go through my day. Obviously, these are not hugely significant interactions but just for a moment it takes you out of your bubble, that little space you hum along in where you and yours are number one. How bizarre supermarkets today would be to the shopper of the 1920s or 1930s. My grandmother would often recount tales of going to the butcher for this, going to the grocer for that...now you grab something wrapped in plastic off the shelf and swipe it through a machine without having to talk to another soul. My DH is all for this brave-new-world streamlining and perhaps it will prove to have its merits one day - when we cannot remember it being any other way.