Visiting Ikea can be a traumatic experience. After all, every outlet of the Swedish furniture store is essentially a giant one-way footpath, so, once you’re in, there’s no getting out without completing a lap of the entire thing. It’s no surprise, then, that many people are reluctant to return. That was exactly how this husband felt. He was dragged there by his wife for reasons that he couldn’t understand. And the hilarious existential crisis he suffered as a result is something that we can all relate to.
Nathanael Showalter lives in Maryland with his wife, Johanna. He runs operation at a startup, Hover Solutions, which specializes in drone technology. And on February 26, 2017, he was dragged to Ikea by Johanna, without knowing exactly why.
For one thing, despite having fully furnished their apartment, the Showalters were returning to the store. At first, he assumed that they might be there for lunch, an event that ends in Nathanael staining his pants, “As is tradition,” he notes.
Taking a trip to Ikea isn’t like visiting just any old store. Indeed, for some people, it’s a veritable pilgrimage. So it’s no surprise that Nathanael found himself so bewildered by the entire experience. But this was just the beginning.
After lunch, Johanna makes her way over to a labeled cabinet – something she says will be useful when the couple have “eight kids.” As Nathanael dryly observes, however, the couple currently have zero kids. It’s no wonder, then, that he’s having such trouble pinning down the reason for their trip to Ikea.
Things don’t get much better as the couple start looking at items that they already own. Indeed, turning to the candles aisle, Nathanael starts to have a full-blown existential crisis. “We have many candles,” he writes. “We bought our current candles at Ikea.” You can almost see the cogs starting to loosen.
Johanna, however, doesn’t seem to be having the same problems as her husband. Instead, she’s casually browsing the shelves as if this whole situation is perfectly normal. She asks Nathanael about storage solutions in the kitchen, a question for which he is totally unprepared.
Eventually, Nathanael determines that the couple may be at Ikea to buy a mirror of some sort. And for a blissful moment, he probably thought he could make sense of the madness. But then, Johanna moves on from the mirror aisle, without choosing one.
Nathanael is back to square one, trying to figure out exactly why he had to journey into the fifth circle of furniture hell. As he frantically observes on his Imgur post, the true motive behind their pilgrimage “remains as mysterious as the little dots over the vowels in the item labels.”
The abundance of rats in the stuffed toys section only sends Nathanael spiraling further into delirium. Indeed, like most things in Ikea so far, the prominence of the rats in the display baffles him. Johanna, meanwhile, appears to somehow be enjoying herself.
The overwhelming number of stuffed rats ultimately takes its toll on Nathanael, and the couple move on to the next dreaded chapter of the labyrinthine superstore. First, though, he comes to the conclusion – presumably for the sake of his own mental well-being – that the rats are probably somehow “significant in Swedish culture.”
Next, the couple move on to look at a container of measuring spoons which Johanna points out to her husband. Yet, like most things in the store, they already have a perfectly good set of measuring spoons. Nathanael, then, finds himself even more baffled.
Of course, things don’t get any better as they venture on. Indeed, Nathanael journeys further down the rabbit hole as his wife asks him whether he’s “ready.” Ready for what? He may never know. And judging by the photo above, this is clearly a man who’s seriously losing his grip on reality.
Johanna then takes interest in a picture frame. However, Nathanael, clearly delirious by this point, doesn’t know why she wants to put up a photo of an unknown woman. Obviously, she was referring solely to the frame, a fact that probably wouldn’t have escaped the mind of anyone still in possession of their sanity.
Soon, the couple move on to the plant section. As Nathanael points out, however, they live in a basement. Hence, investing in a Sansevieria probably isn’t the wisest idea. “I fear for the lives of any plants we procure,” he writes.
Before they can do so, however, Johanna checks her own Facebook timeline – where she catches her husband in the act of uploading their trip around Ikea to the internet. Judging by her smile, however, she doesn’t seem to mind. After all, it’s probably the only thing keeping him sane at this point.
Eventually, the Showalters make it to the checkout. Of course, they don’t even have the mirror that Nathanael had at one point presumed they’d come in for. Instead, they’re buying a sugar bowl, a drawer divider and a microwave cover.
On the way out, a presumably exasperated Johanna tells her husband, “I love you forever, even though I already have to.” Nathanael, of course, loves her too – as he writes on Imgur. Presumably, he was too busy recovering from the traumatic experience to say it to her at the time. Still, it seems the Showalters made it out the other side of Ikea without doing too much damage to their mental capabilities. At least we hope so, anyway.