Saturday, October 30, 2004


I've seen more of New Jersey this weekend than I ever really needed to. For those of you who aren't local, we have two Ikeas (Ikeae? Ikeot?) just across the Hudson, and they're both fairly easy to drive to. The older one, in Elizabeth, offers a free charter bus from Port Authority on the weekends. This is a great service, but it makes for a very crowded store and even if you rent a car and go during the week, it's notorious for not having basic things in stock, and it tends to have a messy, picked-over feel. Paramus, on the other hand, is like the Ikea Holy Grail. The store is maybe two years old, and without the insane weekend traffic from the City, it looks pristine in comparison. I've been there a couple of times now and I love it, but I've only been with friends' or rented cars.

So yesterday, with a clear mission to finish our shelving unit in the living room (some errors in buying and some last minute re-design), Boy and I braved the New Jersey Transit bus to Ikea Paramus. It's about three dollars from the GWB Depot, and it goes right to the store grounds. There are a couple of problems though. First, it's a plain old commuter bus, with no cargo bins or luggage racks. We'd brought our shopping cart to ease our travels, and even that, folded, was tricky on the bust out to Jersey. So we realized our plans were a little too ambitious, and had to decide on the way out what we were going to pick up on this trip.

Second, a much bigger problem: there's no bus back to Manhattan. Now, we knew this. It's clearly printed on the timetables and online. "Passengers leaving from IKEA, in the Eastbound direction, towards New York are directed to use the pedestrain [sic] walkway over Route 4 to reach the bus stop located on Route 4 east service road in front of Nordstrom’s." Yeah, here's the thing. There is no walkway (pedestrain, pedestrian or otherwise) of any kind over, under, or through the highway to Nordstrom's, which we could plainly see as we circled the entire Ikea grounds. Undaunted, we waited for a westbound bus, and asked the driver where we could connect to our bus heading back to the City. After some tricky negotiations with her accent, she dropped us and another hapless Ikeaer on a stop basically in the middle of the highway, where she said we'd be fine. Yeah. About ten minutes later, an "express bus" came by. This is a little minibus that basically follows the NJ Transit route and poaches their passengers for $2.50. So we got on, juggling our Ikea bags (and still-folded cart) on the tiny bus with some noisy teenagers who made me fear for the future of humanity. It was a damn good thing we decided to get less stuff.

So today I embarked on the free bus to Elizabeth to get the 7-foot tall posts we needed for our shelves. They're actually light and easy to carry, but they needed to go in the cargo bins under the big bus. It was a quick trip, easy to avoid the crowds with a clear and short mission, I had a hankering for Swedish meatballs, and I was very relaxed about the whole thing. Until the bus driver got lost. Let's say that again: The professional bus driver, who was hired to make a very simple trip from tunnel to turnpike to exit with giant blue-and-yellow building just off of it, got lost. For 45 minutes. We literally drove in circles, stopping to ask for directions twice at the same place. Various passengers tried to help, and to the driver's credit and ours, everyone was pretty good-natured about it all. I was sitting up front and tried to call the store for help, but no one answered.

But I got there eventually, and refused to stress. When I returned Boy and I finished the shelves, and they make me very happy. I had multiple Ikeagasms. We've got two unused tickets to Paramus now, so now that I know how it works I think I'll go back later in the week and get some window treatments we liked but didn't buy which, of course, they were out of at Elizabeth. We were looking at chairs, and some of them have miniature versions for kids. We actually had a sincere conversation about getting one for Radish. Terrifying. Though not nearly as terrifying as the idea of being stranded in Paramus!

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