An IKEA story

So I’m over at sarasantiago.com, because of a tweet I saw that led me to look up another tweet that pointed out she was a fellow QuadTech alumnis. Anyway, among her writing was a story or two about IKEA, and it got me to thinking about one of my own…

So before Riley was born Susan and I went down to the land of blue and yellow for an impromptu shopping spree in the spring of ’08, with Ginny and Laney. We ended up in the patio furniture section on the bottom floor after a fairly lengthy visit.

Susan and I were discussing the various options, while Ginny (then 3+) was scooting around. Laney was in the cart. It was about 5 minutes to closing and we were having that rather rushed discussion about whether to get this or that. Then Susan and I realized, at about the same time, that we had each thought the other knew where Ginny was. We didn’t. This was in a hide-n-seek phase G was going though, where she thought it was great fun to take off in a store and let us try and find her. To date her adventures had taken her at most to the next aisle.

Now I have to give my wife a lot of credit. While my first instinct was to run off and look for her, Susan’s was to find an employee. She knew what Ginny was wearing, and explained this to the empolyee, who had a radio, and, more importantly the demeanor that comes with extensive experience with lost kids. We heard the announcement go over the PA, and I then took off to look for Gin. It was the fatherly thing to do, although I expected my cell phone to ring any minute with news that an IKEA staffer had found Ginny. Still I took off heading in the first obvious direction.

At this point I just started to get that very icky feeling. Mostly I figured it was no big deal, but a tiny vision of some creep carrying her out of the store, or her getting run over somehow started to grow. It was far more irrational and urgent than I ever figured it would be – this was my first major parent-panic moment.

So I’m power-walking around the bottom floor. I figure she wouldn’t have gone upstairs, but if she had she’d probably be found by the IKEA people, and there was a greater risk of her wandering outside if she was on the ground floor anyway. I was walking past an aisle of carpet tables, with various panic-driven visions filling my head. These are the large, low tables covered with dozens of floor rugs, and more rolled up underneath. I was looking down the isle when I saw something. It was barely a flicker of movement but my gut lead and I followed. If you’ve ever seen my gut you know what kind of influence it can have.

The flicker was Gin’s dress hem sliding up and over a rolled up carpet under a table. She’d found her hiding spot between two rolled carpets under a table. I reached under and pulled her out. I picked her up, and in a voice far more calm than I was entitled to, explained that hide and seek was not the game to play right now. A woman stopped me and asked if she was the girl they’d announced, and I said yes.  “Thank goodness!” she said, with a motherly palm on her chest, and hugging her own daughter close.

I found Susan, we let the staff know she’d been found, and all was well. After a quick decision on some furniture, we headed out the door with a steep bill, a stack of boxes to load in the van, and a story to tell.

Yes, we still go to IKEA.

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