The bizarreness of Singapore has struck again. It has floored me in fact. I shouldn't really be surprised because it happens on a regular basis and I really am a stranger in a strange land.
I have had many such moments.
Once more I feel compelled to record these events - if only just to remind myself. So here I am again - at my keyboard.
Clicking, clacking and tapping away.
I have just returned from a sales related saga. I went hunting for a new bed for my old one creaks and groans when I lay on it. The mattress is a bit saggy and worn. It is a tad like me actually.
Who am I kidding?
It is a lot like me.
I went on my hunt straight from work. 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 to Ikea twice before. 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 checkout. It can take hours to escape.
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.
The task was compounded by the Singaporean masses that block these paths. They spend vast amounts of time staring at the furniture settings.
Singaporeans love Ikea. They swarm to the stores in massive numbers and I suspect that some families may spend whole days there.
They willingly trap themselves and survive 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.
On my first journey to Ikea I purchased a bookcase and I of course scoffed at the option of the assembly service. Like most of the male species I chose to completely disregard the assembly instructions.
They are for pussies.
A massive one in fact.
Several hours after opening the flatpack I was baked in sweat and I was in a fury. I had hurled one of the shelves from my verandah. I was frustrated. I was confounded. I was ready to kill.
The accursed Ikea Allen key was pitted and scarred with my teeth marks.
So I took a calming break and I drank some green tea. Then I marched myself downstairs and I retrieved the hurled shelf. It had fortunately landed in a Frangipani tree and it 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 I eventually found the English version that I was seeking.
Then I followed the guide step by step.
A mere two hours later and 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 furniture 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 household wares and there were quite a few beds 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 and 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.
I shop with intent.
Out of nowhere a salesman appeared. He was a bespectacled local guy to whom 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 that I liked the look of. It was a wooden structure – possibly teak but perhaps walnut. It was King sized too so it appeared to tick all of my boxes. I sat on the mattress and then I bounced around a bit. The mattress was firm but not hard - just the way I like it.
I then took off my shoes and lay 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 of rolling I sat up and then I bounced a few times more. I again received more looks of alarm from the salesman to which I returned some more give-a-fucks.
"How much?" I enquired.
"$5000" he replied.
There was no hesitation.
I cocked my eyebrow in an exaggerated fashion.
"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 I 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 added.
My brain was rapidly trying to do the mental arithmetic.
"So that's $3500?"
"Yes" was the response – although there was a little less certainty now.
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 demanded.
I received another look of alarm.
"Cannot,” he said.
There was apprehension in his face. I could read it. So I shrugged my shoulders and began again to walk away.
"$2500" I heard.
There was a wining plea in his voice now so I turned around and faced him
"$2200" I responded.
"Can" he submitted.
It is being delivered on the weekend.