Hey Buddy, Can You Spare a Spanner?

Several years ago Dr. Kyle’s job took us to Oxford, England for a semester. It was fantastic. My littles were pretty little, so it was hard work, but totally worth it. We had spent a semester there a few years before that, so I knew what I was in for…sorta. But do you really know what you are in for when you take off on a new adventure? In my experience, one usually doesn’t, but that’s most of the fun, right?

Below is a picture of my boy on his first day of school in Oxford. It has nothing to do with the rest of this post, but aren’t my littles cute?

My prince's first day of school, Oxford.

My prince’s first day of school, Oxford.

Anyway, while we were there, my friend and I decided that the homes we were staying in needed a little bit of love, so we hopped in her giant gray Volvo (lovingly named Baby Beluga) and headed to London’s Ikea. Let me start by saying that I love Ikea. Like, a lot. We did, however, hit a hiccup or two while shopping there.

There we were, winding our way through the entire showroom like rats sniffing for cheese at the end of the maze. We laughed, we ooohhhd and aahhhhd, we measured, we ate meatballs. It was fantastic. As we made our way to the flat stack area, we wondered if Baby Beluga would be able to accommodate all the treasures we’d found. Well, of course we could fit it all in. All of it was in flat boxes that would neatly fit in our beloved BB.

And there it was. The ‘as is’ section. Clearance. My achilles heel. I can’t in good conscience pass up a clearance section. I mean, what if the items I want are in that section, all assembled and cheap and stuff. I would be a bad steward if I didn’t at least look. So we wheeled our trolly over and began to dig in. Then, a shaft of light opened from the heavens and shone down on a bookcase. The very bookcase we’d chosen. Coincidence? I think not. So what that the fully assembled bookcases and coffee table wouldn’t fit in Baby Beluga. There were savings to be had. Besides, I was handy with a wrench. We could partially disassemble and shove them in, right?

So, I was on a quest. A quest for a wrench. One little wrench was all that was standing between me and my beloved clearance furniture. I guess we could have strapped the stuff on the top of the car like the Clampetts, but even with the savings we’d gotten, it didn’t seem prudent. The place was crawling with folks in yellow shirts just waiting to be of assistance to me. So I stopped the first one I saw.

“Excuse me, but do you happen to have a wrench I could borrow?”

“No, I’m sorry.”

Wait. This is Ikea. Everything in the place was held together with nuts and bolts. Wrenches make this place go ’round. What do you mean you don’t have a wrench? I wan’t going to give up that easily. I found my next target.

“Pardon me, but may I borrow a wrench please?”

“Sorry, love. Don’t have one of those.”

Well, at least this time he called me love. Still, I was undeterred. After asking and being rebuffed by the fifth employee, however, I was. I had almost admitted defeat. It was getting late, we were tired, and a gentle snow had begun to fall as we continued to try to shove all of our crap in the car. I decided to give it one more shot.

“Excuse me, sir, but I’m in need of help.”

“Of course, dahhling.”

“I need to partially disassemble one of my purchases.”

“I see. How can I help?”

By this time I realized that visual aids were a must. I crawled under the nearest piece of furniture and motioned for him to dive in after me.

Pointing to a nut and bolt, “I need a tool that will unscrew these two bits and bobs. You know, so I can take it apart.”

“AAAhhhhhh. I see. You need a spanner. An adjustable spanner.”

It was then that I realized that the previous five employees either had no idea what I was talking about or they knew and decided it would be quite entertaining to see an American woman nearly lose her mind knowing that there had to be a wrench somewhere in freaking Ikea.

So, the kind young man who finally had pity on the stupid Yank not only got a spanner for me, but helped me coax everything in the car. So, what’s the moral of the story? Don’t shop clearance? Blasphemy. Don’t give up until you have what you need? Maybe. Grab an employee by the collar, dive under a piece of furniture, and wildly point at what is holding it together and then you might get a little help? Bingo. Or perhaps it’s that we don’t really speak the same language after all. Yeah, I’ll go with that.





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