Yesterday was an interesting day at the very least. I had arranged to go shopping to IKEA with my Lithuanian friends Monika and Romas who are moving into their new home around the same time as I am and their furniture store of choice was the usual suspect.

I decided to lower my shopping-related stress level by jogging in the morning. We arrived to Arlon, a trip that normally takes some 15 to 20 minutes, at 9 am and waited for the Belgians to slowly open up by five past. Being among the four people at the info desks manned and womaned by four people we were told to take a number and wait our turn. So we did. Except that the number board or whatever you call that thing was not turned on. After a while we were allowed to approach the desk at which point we were told that vans cannot be booked in advance.

So off we went, shopping our eyes and legs out, had an enjoyable lunch and were about ready to leave. We were all quite happy with our choices. I decided not to buy a bed frame yet as I could not make up my mind on which one to take and the one I thought I’d be bringing back looked its cheap price. I did invest in a high quality mattress, however, as experience taught me that it may well be the single most important item in the house. Most of the rest of furniture and whatnots can wait until after I’ve moved in and can better plan the arrangement, especially in view of hopes to make the place comfortable for many of my friends that I would like to come visit.

Once we made our way past the cash registers, leaving quite a hefty share of honestly earned money to the Swedes and hopefully some to the people of the many nations manufacturing their products, we ran to the info desk again and of course found that the vans were all rented out. I emphasized to the clerk that we bought many large items, including a large mattress and we need a large van.

After an hour’s wait, which offered a wonderful opportunity to do some caviare and knäckebröd shopping, we had our van. Which was not a van, but rather a Renault Kangoo. Hello? A day of shopping, which does not rank high on the list of my favourite activities, I was ready to kill. Apologies to Monika and Romas for having to witness my dissatisfied-customer face and demeanour. My American grandmother would have been proud of the way I threw a fit and demanded free shipping for the mattress that wouldn’t fit. But to my defence, I had planned for this with the morning jog, which probably saved lives.

In the end, the kind IKEA guys strapped the offending item on top of the “van” and Romas, who worked for a removal company back at home and is excellent at this stuff, followed our car en route back to the Great Bubble City.

As soon as we reached the highway, blood froze in our veins. Romas’ van was about to become a basket carried under the balloon that was destined to serve as my future resting place. But not up in the sky! Even at the lowest speeds, the mattress kept raising its head up high, growling at the thin rope struggling to keep it on the same course as the unappreciated van. Dear mattress, it is fine, Kangoo is not what we wanted and I’m sorry about the quality of transportation, but come on, it’s not even raining. Or snowing for that matter. Down, boy!

We proceeded at snail speed. No, wait, a slug who’d just come from Amsterdam actually passed us by, waiving and uttering “Peace” with a condescending look in his watery eyes. So did plenty of truckers. I mean, pass us, but the word they used was not peace although the pronunciation of their word of choice was similar. Their gestures, as well, were more complex and rather faster than the slug’s gentle waive.

All’s well that ends well and after a few heart-stopping moments we managed to unload the van-wannabe at both future homes and return to the shopping centre quite uneventfully. By the time we got home it was about four thirty.

Tea time. Play music. Relax. Mmmmm…