Insane in the brain!

Why are there some associations our brains refuse to learn?

I get the childbirth one.  From an evolutionary perspective, the idea that the mind dulls the memory regarding the true pain of child birth makes sense. Without this capacity there would be no siblings and the horror stories from those who have gone through childbirth would presumably put off all but the very brave from even considering reproducing. So well done brain……trick the poor fools into thinking it didn’t hurt that much and the future of the human race is secured.

What is less understandable is why this same trick of the brain occurs regarding visits to Swedish furniture stores. No matter how many fraught, stressful, agonising hours we spend there and no matter how many times we leave the store vowing never to return lest our sanity finally fails us, given the passage of enough time we find ourselves considering a trip to buy much needed new furniture (how can we need more furniture?) not only without trembling in fear, but actually with something approaching excitement.

We daydream about the transformative effects shiny new storage will have on the disaster zone that is our homes (well mine at least!); we look forward to a relaxing meal in the restaurant; and – if my husband’s words are to be believed as we headed out early this afternoon bright eyed and full of expectation – we imagine that we are going to have ‘a lovely family day out.’

Yep. That brain trick sure fooled us!

In reality this is what happened (and, let’s face it, what always happens):

Having negotiated permission to take her new build-a-bear bunny (see previous entry ), Ana promptly managed to lose one of the bunny’s bunny slippers (yes, seriously – it has its own bunny slippers) literally minutes after entering the store. This then entailed a frantic search; a chat to the nice woman at the entrance; and a scouting missing back to the car before the slipper was finally discovered at the foot of the display map and reunited Cinderella-like with its bunny owner! Crisis one averted.

Given that it was now mid-afternoon and we had not eaten lunch, we now headed to the restaurant where – in a failed attempt to negotiate the various queues, aisles and sections with a trolley of trays – I managed to reverse into a teenager carrying a tray almost knocking her dinner flying. This did not go down well with her parent and after apologising profusely, I slunk away to a far flung corner to eat my dinner without further incident.

So we are in and we are fed – now to shop. Now, as normal, we had set out with the express intention of purchasing only those items on our carefully curated list and nothing more – one desk, one chair, one chest of drawers and some cheap wine glasses (to replace the 6 I have carelessly managed to break across the past 2 months). Now you know (and deep down we also knew) that this kind of focused shopping is just not going to happen in this environment. For a start, when the chest of drawers we had previously been totally set on, was lined up next to a whole host of other possibilities, we caved (as always), scrapped our initial plans and started again from scratch – cue 20 minutes in the bedroom section planning, re-planning and then planning once more before eventually deciding to buy not one, but two chests of drawer both more expensive than the original…. Quelle surprise!

And then it happened…the freakish, time-theft that occurs sometime after entering this shop where you suddenly look at your watch and realise that it is at least 2 hours later than you believed it was.  You have actually be wandering around for 3 hours already and still haven’t made it to the bit where you pick up all the giant boxes containing the furniture you will still need to cram into the car; leave lying round the house for an indeterminate length of time; and then finally attempt to construct with careful reference to the devilishly complicated instructions….


And just when you start to think this couldn’t get much worse, the previously happy (if irritatingly bouncy) children you brought with you in a foolhardy attempt to ‘have a lovely family day out’ begin to flag.  Tempers fray; tears start to fall (theirs, not mine…yet) and if they are anything like Faith, the final stage of this breakdown involves lying face down on the concrete floor of the warehouse sobbing uncontrollably after her father (he of the aforementioned ‘lovely day out’) asked her not sit on the fragile boxes stacked on the flatbed trolley – how unreasonable!

As we made our way to the checkout, the prospect of an unfeasibly cheap ice cream on the other side acting as the only thing keeping the family together, I pondered on the clever trick of the brain that had led us, once again, to this point of utter dejection.

Making our way to the car, it suddenly became apparent that we were not the only victims here.  Surrounding us in the lift to the car were a sea of miserable faces.  As we exited the lift, the man in front of us nearly took out the woman next to him as he forcefully dragged his trolley out of the door (presumably so desperate to escape he had lost all motivation to be polite).  In the car park, a sullen woman stood stony faced waiting for me to move the trolley partially covering the trolley park space and I realised that the brain trick must not just work on me and that every person, in every seat, in every car leaving the car park had the same thought….’Don’t ever let me think it is a good idea to come back here!’

Well, at least, not until the brain has, once again, performed its cruel trick….


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