Our next trip to Ikea was a true case of hit and run. We had already decided on which bed we wanted. Agnes was supposed to just walk in and buy it, and since she already was going to be in there, maybe grab a pack of napkins and candles. There couldn’t have been many left at home anyway.
I was driving the getaway car. My job was to sit in in our rented van at the gas station across the street and I would only get involved if they did have the couch in the warehouse and some muscles were needed.
Who were we kidding anyway? We didn’t really need me in the purchase process.
Now, I had prepared well for my task. I had with me two magazines, a bottle of diet Coke, a bag of candy, and a carefully chosen CD. I dropped Agnes off at the main entrance, made a U-turn and drove to the gas station. I parked the van, pulled the seat as far back as it went, which wasn’t far, and grabbed a magazine.
Exactly 34 minutes and 31 seconds – or one Rubber Soul – later, the situation in the car was unchanged. I was alone, reading a magazine. There was no sign of Agnes. I threw the empty bag of candy to the seat next to me, and took a sip of diet Coke. I started to feel a little hungry.
I remembered reading once that big executives often went into big business negotiations hungry because that way their brain stayed sharper. A hungry person thinks better, they said.
My brain was only capable of thinking about food. And I knew where to get some.
Across the street there was a big supply of world famous, and cheap, hot dogs. I discarded that idea quickly because Agnes was going to come out of the store any second anyway. I squinted, and zoomed in on the Ikea exit. “Come on, Agnes, you can do it,” I muttered a quiet cheer. I glanced at the dashboard clock. It was 13:22.
“If she’s not here by 13:30, I’ll go in and get a hotdog,” I promised myself.
At exactly 13:36, I locked the van doors and started to walk towards the Ikea exit. That way, if Agnes was on her way to the car, I’d meet her on my way in, and we could get hotdogs together. And if not, well, why should I be hungry? She’d understand. She’d want me to get a hotdog.
I went against the stream of people, muttering excuses to everybody, with a smile. No sign of Agnes.
The hotdog stand, or actually, the Ikea cafeteria, was right at the exit, which was great. I suppose Ikea wanted people to reward themselves with a tasty and cheap hotdog after a tough day of shopping. Although, why would anybody stay inside another second longer when they were so close to the exit?
I took my place at the end of the 30-meter-long line, and started to plan my meal. A regular hotdog five kronor, a hotdog and a drink ten, and two hotdogs and a drink 15 kronor. I was trying to decide how hungry I was.
Every once in a while, I tried to see if Agnes was in one of the check-out lines in the warehouse side of things. But no. Which was great since I had already advanced a meter. Ikea was also trying to lure me with three candy bars for 20 kronor, but I didn’t fall for it.
Looking at the other people in the line, I realized it wasn’t a reward for tired shoppers. It was a place to park tired husbands and kids. Every once in a while, a woman would walk straight from the store, grab a man or a kid, or both, and lead them to freedom. I gave thumbs up to one who just left with a hotdog in his hand. I couldn’t hear what the others were saying, thanks to my headphones. In fact, I couldn’t hear anything.
I inched forward towards the food, and beat my record in Angry Birds. I had also set up alarm for next morning, changed the ring tone, deleted a few old numbers, made a couple of fake appointments for myself for the next day – “strategy meeting”, “brainstorming” – and cleaned my fingernails.
Still no sign of Agnes. And now I was really hungry.
When I finally made it to the front of the line, I ordered three hotdogs, and showed the girl the wrappings of two candy bars. “And these,” I said.
I got my hotdogs and walked to where the ketchup and mustard bottles were. I put two hotdogs on the table and put ketchup and mustard on the third. When I put that one on the table, it fell over, and the mustard got stuck onto the paper. That was a problem. I lifted it up, and tried to balance the other two with my hand, but it was trick I couldn’t yet master. Finally, I pushed one hotdog into my mouth and sent some mustard in afterwards. Not a pretty sight, but the problem got solved.
Handling two hotdogs was easy so I walked over to a table to eat my hotdogs and look for Agnes. She was nowhere to be seen.
I finished my delicious meal, and walked back to the van.
I could see already from the other side of the street Agnes leaning against the side of the van. I ran across the street and opened my arms to give her a hug.
“I hope you haven’t been here long,” I said but got no response. Agnes just told me to open the door, and when I did, she jumped up behind the wheel. Then she wanted to have the keys. She closed the door and started the car. I sprinted to the other side of the car and tried to open the passenger side door, but it was locked. Agnes was looking straight ahead.
I saw her sigh. She opened my door, still without a word, threw a pack of napkins on the dashboard and lifted her foot from the clutch so that I had to jump onto a moving van.
“I’m sorry, really, but..,” I said.
“Don’t say anything. Just wipe that mustard off your face,” she said. “I’ve been for over an hour. And yes, my phone is at home. Oh, I did go back once, and had them announce your name. Didn’t you hear it?”
“I didn’t hear anything,” I said.
We drove slowly, and in complete silence, to the warehouse. We lifted (I lifted) the bed into the van, and we drove home. Then we carried (I carried) the bed inside, and we (I) spent the rest of the day assembling it.
We made up that evening. In our new bed.
(To be continued…)