OK. The bizarreness of Singapore has struck me again. It has floored me. I shouldn't really be surprised because it has happened before. I have had many such moments. Once again I need to write it down - if only to remind myself. So here I am again. At my keyboard. Relating events. As they occurred.
I have just returned from a saga. It was sales related. I was looking for a new bed. I went straight from work. From My old bed creaks and it is a bit saggy and worn. It is a tad like me actually. Who am I kidding – it is a lot like me. Now I knew the best option would have been to go to Ikea as there would be an extensive range of beds and mattresses there. Earlier in the day I had a look at some on the online Ikea catalogue.
I sneaked a peak.
I have however sworn to myself that I would never again set foot in Ikea. It is a sacred vow and it is a compact that I take most seriously. I have been there twice before. To Ikea. The Swedes are a crafty race. They are cunning. Do not be deceived by their blue-eyed blondness.
The Ikea shop design is such that once you enter you are trapped inside and you are forced to follow a meandering path that goes around and around. It is one way traffic. One must follow what seems like an endless path to the final check-out. It can take hours. It is brilliant. On my second journey there I tried to back track. Against the flow. It was like swimming against a strong tide. It was like walking in quicksand. It was mission impossible. This is compounded by the Singaporean masses who block these paths.
The Singaporeans love Ikea. I suspect that families may spend whole days there. Possibly weeks. They trap themselves willingly and surviving on a diet of meatballs and Swedish hotdogs.
The other reason I made the pledge to myself that I will not return to Ikea is of course the assembly. The flat pack is an abomination. I once purchased a bookcase from there and I scoffed at the option of the assembly service. Like most of the male species I chose initially to disregard the assembly instructions. They are for pussies.
Big mistake. Massive in fact. Several hours later I was baked in sweat and I had hurled one of the shelves from my verandah. I was frustrated and I was confounded. I was ready to kill. The accursed Ikea Allen key was scarred with my teeth marks.
So I took a calming break and I drank some green tea. Then I marched myself downstairs and retrieved the hurled shelf. It had fortunately landed in a Frangipani tree and was relatively unscathed. I then recovered the crumpled up assembly guide from the rubbish bin. I flicked through the 32 languages that these were written in and eventually I found the English version that I was seeking.
Then I followed the guide step by step.
A mere two hours later I was triumphantly stacking my books on my wobbly assembly. I ignored the small pile of unused residual screws as I know that the Swedes put in extras. It is their attempt to further confound we consumers.
So anyway, I went to a shop in Ballestier Road. It is not very far from my house and it was on my way home. The shop was a large one. It was expansive. It specialized in furniture. There were quite a few beds there on display. When I entered the store there were no other customers to be seen. In fact there appeared to be no-one in the shop at all. I went straight to the bed section. I knew what I wanted. There was no point in browsing at lounge suites or coffee tables as I already have such items. I am also not a browser and I generally shop with a purpose. With intent. Almost out of nowhere a salesman appeared. I nodded a greeting and I received one back. He followed me around. They do this in Singapore.
I am used to it.
So I didn't mind.
I saw a bed I liked the look of. It was a wooden structure – it was possibly teak but perhaps walnut. It was King sized so it appeared to tick all my boxes. I sat on the mattress and I bounced a bit. The mattress was firm but not hard. Just the way I like it. I took off my shoes and laid down then I rolled around a little. The salesman looked a little alarmed however I didn't give a fuck. A comfortable bed is important and I like my sleep. The two are intrinsically linked. After a while I sat up then I bounced a few times again. I received more looks of alarm from the salesman. There was more give-a-fuck from me.
"How much?" I enquired.
"$5000" was the reply.
There was no hesitation.
I cocked my eyebrow. "That seems a lot" I retorted.
"That's for the base and mattress?" I asked.
"Yes" was the response.
"OK" I said.
"That is a bit more than my budget".
I put on my shoes and stood up.
"I will have a look in Ikea then" I said.
I started to leave. He had no idea I was bluffing. He knew not of my vow.
"How much you pay?" he said as I was walking away.
"We have sale. 30% discount".
"A sale?' I enquired.
"A 30% discount?" I asked.
My brain was rapidly trying to do the mental arithmetic.
"So that's $3500?"
"Yes" was the response.
I could tell from the look on his face that he was doing his own mental sums.
"So why did you tell me $5000?" I asked. This enquiry was done with no small degree of suspicion and possibly some overtones of aggression.
I received a blank stare. This is common in Singapore in a sales situation – particularly when a challenge is offered.
"I will give you $2000" I countered.
"Including delivery and assembly"
I received another look of alarm.
"Cannot" he said.
There was uncertainty in his face. I could read it. So I shrugged my shoulders and began again to walk away.
"$2500" I heard.
There was a plea in his voice now so I turned around and faced him
"$2200" I responded.
"Can" he submitted.
It is being delivered tomorrow.