This Could Happen to YouAugust 26, 2004
I've mentioned my pal Marama before. I adore her. She's my coworker and running mate in Team 911. I wouldn't be running this marathon without her. She's also my shopping coach. I pretty much hate to shop, unless I know exactly what I want and can go in and get it, without passing go, without collecting $200, without dealing with screaming children and/or full-grown men, without having anything to do with a price check of any kind. If it involves a line, I get a little antsy. Like, twitchy. Like, you'd look at me in the Walmart line and worry about my trembling lower lip. You might change check-out lanes. Marama is the person I call when I need something like running shoes or a bookcase or a snowsuit.
She knows where the deals are. On Tuesday, she stopped by Ikea on her way to work. Red flag number one. Can you imagine just popping in to Ikea? Dude, I have to gear myself up for WEEKS to do that. But nope, she drops by and sure enough, she finds something. She finds something good. She's been needing a bedframe/headboard for her guest bed and finds a simple wooden one marked down to ten dollars. Ten freaking dollars. So she buys it. She takes it outside to her car.
Marama got in a minor fender-bender last week (not her fault) and is driving a rental car considerably smaller than her usual vehicle. She stands outside and tries to put the frame in the trunk. No way is it going to fit. She tries to squeeze it into the back seat. No dice. She puts all the seats down and tries it again. Nope. She takes it out of the box and wrestles with it some more. Still no. She curses and huffs and swears until it's half-past four. She has to be at work at five. And now it's too late to stand in line (it's Ikea, I remind you) to return it or to order home delivery.
Tell me. What does she do?
It was ten dollars. She leans it against a tree and drives away.
She thought about writing something on the box like, "If you can fit it in YOUR damn car, you can have it." Or just: "I give up."
We laughed about it at work that night. She made jokes about driving by to see if it was still there at three in the morning when she got off. Yeah, right. Heh, heh. In freakin' Emeryville. Bordering Oakland. SURE, it'll be there.
But she drives by. And it's there, still leaned against the tree, papers and little rig-em-up doojabber tools all still intact. So she starts to wrestle it again. Same box, same car, a more determined person.
There's a car sitting in the lot, occupied by one guy. He's backed into the space, and he doesn't look like security. He's far enough away that Marama doesn't pay him much mind. She does notice, however, when another car drives in and backs into a parking place. The second guy sits there and watches her, too.
A third guy in a Lexus pulls in, backs into a space, and stares at her. She begins to wonder if the Ikea parking lot is the new cruising area for gay men. Another car pulls in. Another man just watching her.
One gets out of his car and approaches her. He's smoking a cigarette and looks tough. "It's never going to go in there." She decides that he's kind of preoccupied with the cigarette in one hand and that she might get a good sucker-punch in if needed. She starts planning her way out. She feels for her cell phone. He takes the box and levers it into the trunk and manages to find things to tie it in place. "That'll do," he says. Another car pulls in. "Oh," he says. "There's my boss." And with that, the Ikea work crew goes into the building.
I woulda had a heart attack. I would have. I swear. She was a braver woman than I would have been. She said it did cross her mind that she was risking rape, carjacking, or even just a plain ole mugging for a ten dollar headboard, but damn, that bed is going to have a story.
This is why I don't shop. (Yarn doesn't count.)
(Neither do books.)
(They don't, really.)