I recently spent a pleasant afternoon pottering about a certain Swedish Furnishings store and eventually decided to purchase a bunk-bed/desk/cabinet/wardrobe combo thingy for my daughter. Have it scrubbed and brought to me, I demanded of them and so it came to pass.
Now I seem to remember a lot of whinging about how difficult it is to put these flat pack johnnies together. Clearly a girlie thing as I put the whole lot together in well under six hours, without looking at the instructions once. It took a trifling four hours more to put the doors on the right way up and put the cartload of extra screws where they should have gone. I have particular admiration for the little silver things that have to be popped into a hole, held in place and the right angle of rotation maintained with a screwdriver whilst a bloody great bolt needs to be screwed into them using the smallest alan key imaginable from another angle altogether. There were also some plastic screws which managed to find a place in my heart. These were split along their length and angled apart like clothes pegs. These had to be stuffed into impossibly small openings at ridiculous angles with thumb-piercing force. Fortunately, there were only a few thousand of these. Oh, and by the way, there was some wood involved too.
Anyway, all done eventually and my daughter, having remained awake until the early hours pending my completion of this edifice, was still keen to pass what remained of the night in it. Having completed my manly duty, I retired gracefully and allowed 'she who must be obeyed' to make the bed. She sought me out in the bathroom a few moments later where I was bathing my thumbs under the cold tap. I turned attentively to receive the praise due to one who has performed pyramid-level stuff when she instead said 'you've bought the wrong sized bloody mattress, you moron'.
You might agree with me that this was possibly a wee bit on the harsh side.
I took to my bed, bearing the resentment of both wife and daughter (who both slept on a futon) with me but vowing to have a stiff word with the jolly chaps and chapettes at the store on the morrow.
It normally takes 15 minutes to drive there from my house but this time it took over an hour, the last 3/4 of which was spent queuing behind other traffic going the same way. It was probably the same behind me but I couldn't tell. The entire world to the rear of me seemed to consist of mattress. I had had to fold both back seats of my car down and slide the thing through from the boot where it eventually proved a very comfy alternative to the standard headrests provided, although seeming to prefer that I studied my knees rather than the road ahead.
When I finally managed to park, there seemed to be a queue of about a hundred people waiting to get into the front door. This is ridiculous, I thought, although pleased to be heading for a separate doorway marked 'RETURNS'. Bearing mattress on head, in ancient tribal fashion, I entered and was struck by a scene, which resembled an Afghan refugee camp.
First things first; I took a numbered ticket to ascertain my place in the pecking order. I looked around. After the time spent motionless in the car, I was in need of spending a penny but could see no facilities. I looked for food but could see none. I sought water to sooth my thirst but none was to be found.
By the look of them, several people had spent days in there, waiting increasingly despairingly for their number to be called. I checked the current number - 60. I checked my ticket - 10. Could be a while then. Some of the punters had clearly done this whole thing before. They were huddled round little piles of warm stones, drinking hot coffee from flasks and bringing forth tardis-like volumes of sandwiches and chicken legs from tiny Tupperware boxes.
I settled into a yogic trance, dispelling from my mind all bodily wants and sought enlightenment on a higher plane for the next hour and a half. Well I tried to. It's a bit difficult when you have buffoons driving eight foot lengths of four-by-two into your kidneys every 30 seconds. 'Sorry mate', they'd say but they weren't. I began, mentally, to compose a letter to my MP outlining the benefits of adding a trolley category to driving licences.
After suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous woodwork, I finally arrived at the counter. The woman was quite helpful, swapped the mattress for the correct one, agreed the woman that had served me originally was indeed a dozy bint and handed me cash to cover any inconvenience I had suffered.
Needless to say, if there were any justice, this last amount would be in the region of 2 million quid but I settled for the 40 sovs and drove home with an even larger mattress occluding the view.
It is now installed, wife and daughter are smiling and another fraught episode resolves into a happy ending. I have however, put my foot down with a firm hand and vowed never to visit that particular returns office again. If we ever get anything awry from that store again, I'm going to throw it away and buy a new one.