Over the weekend I went to Canada to buy a mattress*. Now I live pretty far north, but headed straight up on route 108 I’m still 45 minutes south of the border. That’s a LOT of land between here and there- and a lot of small towns whose grocery store is even further away than mine.

When I got to the border the Canadian guard was very friendly. He even helpfully pointed out that the Boucherville Ikea is easier to get to than the one in Montreal proper (this will be important later). This was only sort of helpful, because I was traveling like it was 1997. My cell phone doesn’t work in Canada, and my GPS doesn’t have maps for that country. Instead I was traveling with carefully printed step-by-step directions from the internet…

Luckily I learned to drive in 1997 and thus am skilled in the art of traveling in this manner. I managed the windy back roads of Quebec with the same skill as the matching windy back roads in Vermont. It was when I got to Montreal that things became tricky.

Did you know? Montreal is a BIG city. Somehow, in all my planning I’d forgotten this important detail. And Ikea is on the far side of that big city, so I had to navigate the flying buttress highways and large bridges that go with city interstates. Somewhat miraculously I made it to Ikea without incident.

Then I had to navigate Ikea. Have I mentioned yet that this was my first time to any Ikea store? And have I mentioned that all the signs are in french? Sometimes they have english subtitles, if I’m lucky.

Unluckily the receipt the nice lady handed me which listed my chosen mattress and pillowtopper did NOT have english subtitles. This made navigating the self-serve warehouse somewhat tricky (pro tip: mattresses are not self-serve. You pick them up after paying)

Eventually I figured it out, paid, and found my way to the pick up location. Where I waited for my number to be called. I waited, and waited. People who got there after me picked up their stuff and left. Finally my number was called, and the guy came forward with just ONE rolled up piece of bedding. He explained the mattress was stuck on a second story shelf. They’d be able to get it down for me after business hours. Could I come back at 5:30?

I blinked two or three times, then mentioned that I live 4 hours (round trip) away. Therefore, NO, I could not come back later. He devised a scheme and suggested that I return the delayed mattress and choose a different one. Seems like a good concept right? Well, except for the fact that I had to navigate Ikea for a second time that day it was a fine idea.

I proceeded with the plan. The second time around I knew exactly what I was doing and it went much more quickly. Soon I picked up my two rolled items and left the store.

The drive home was relatively uneventful** with the exception of the US border crossing guard who apparently had A) never heard of Ikea and B) was wondering how much one could, hypothetically, smuggle in two rolled up bedding items. I’m just glad he didn’t decide to open them right there. They wouldn’t have fit in my car so well in their unrolled state.

When I got home I excitedly unrolled the mattress and pillowtopper. They need a few days to stretch properly. But the moment we got the wrapping off something was visibly wrong. The pillowtopper was about 3 inches too thick…

Apparently when the warehouse guy said the “mattress” was on a second story shelf, he meant the pillowtopper. But because Ikea stuff all has names like Finnvik and Favang I didn’t catch that detail. So now I have two mattresses, no pillowtopper, and a plan to go BACK to Ikea sometime next month for a wee exchange… I think this time I’ll drive to Boucherville. Just to mix things up.

*totally not as sketchy as it sounds. My nearest Ikea is in Montreal.
**uneventful, except for the part where I was sitting in stalled traffic on the interstate in a foreign country and some guy pulled up next to me to ask for directions. This happens to me ALL THE TIME. I swear, it’s like someone taped a “tour guide” sign to my back.

7 responses to “Adventuring

  1. Navigating an Ikea in a foreign language is almost impossible. I, too, attempted to buy some furniture item at the Montreal Ikea but the language barrier made it impossible. If memory serves, I successfully bought some spoons.

    • I can see how spoons would be the fall-back. They’re easy and don’t involve so many signs!

      I did take AP french in high school, it’s amazing how much I’ve forgotten!

  2. Sounds like a classic trip to Ikea. Ouf. Returns are always a pain because we don’t live so close to one either.

  3. Perhaps if you get some of those “deep-pocket” sheets you’ll be able to fit the fat mattress in and save yourself a trip back to shopping hell??

    • Nah, we really want the latex and cotton topper AND that piece is cheaper than the mattress we want to return so we’ll get some money back. And I did some research on Ikea mattresses before starting this process, they’re actually not bad products.

      It wasn’t really a trip from hell but mostly because I choose to laugh and call such things “adventures” it’s better than getting frustrated!

  4. And…I have an Ikea about 1/2 hour from home. I used to work practically around the corner from there. The only thing I ever bought besides glassware was a big colander that was so poorly designed it needs special shaking (too tired to explain special shaking) to drain pasta. However I’ve had the thing for at least 15 years and since I melted the tupperware one its the only one we have. Just my only other Ikea anecdote.

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