Creative Writing Exercise: Living in IKEA

I found a book in a bookstore a while back that was a journal for writing prompts. I’ve always like the creative writing exercises we used to do in school. I also wished during the SATs or GREs that they would have picked more interesting writing prompts than the absolutely boring things they made us write on. Seriously, unless standardized tests have changed in the last 6 years, those people have NO imagination whatsoever.

This being said, I decided for fun and giggles to pick a prompt, time myself for 30 minutes to write, and use it for today’s post. This is a complete rough draft, I’m not doing any editing here other than fixing misspelled words so if it’s horrible, forgive me. Just something to make my brain juices flowing.

“You have been evicted from your home, but rather than live on the street you go to Ikea. At night you hide in the bathroom until the janitor leaves. Write about your life.”

Have you read the book The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler? You know, the one about the kids who live in the museum? So, that’s kinda what I’ve been doing. Except swap kids with a 30 year old adult and change the museum with IKEA. And that’s me. *waves feebly from one of the showroom bedrooms* Yep, I live in IKEA.

“What? That’s crazy crackers! How did this happen?”, you ask. Well you see..I had to move out of my house. Ok, that’s a lie. I got kicked out. My landlord, who I thought was a cool person, decided to change up some rules and told me I had to go. I didn’t do anything majorly wrong. But that’s besides the point. I basically was forced out of the only place I knew up here. I didn’t have anywhere else to go so I kept delaying moving out as much as I could. I mean, I didn’t have the time or funds to look for a new place. And when you’re in the DC area, places are EXPENSIVE. Then one night, after re-watching (500) Days of Summer, one of my favorite movies of all time, a light bulb went on in my head. I COULD LIVE IN IKEA! I mean come on, there are BEDS. FREE BEDS. And couches! And TVs! And books! Ok, well sure the books are either in Swedish or books that NO ONE has ever heard of but still! And there is food! Cheap, glorious food! This is GENIUS!

I started to do my research when I went with a friend to “furniture shop”. Well while she was shopping, I was being stealthy. While visiting the third floor with all the showcases, I made sure to look out for all security cameras and anything that would make my presence known overnight. I realized that there are janitors who come into the store at night and clean BUT I also noticed that they arrived BEFORE all the customers left AND that for some weird reason, bathrooms were the first thing they cleaned. If I could hide until they were done, then I could sleep in for several hours, until just before the store opened, hide again, and then act just like a customer and get on with my day. I mean, they’re not going to check EVERY bed every day just to make sure someone is there right? Plus, the IKEA employee uniforms are easy to replicate so just in case I was ever caught by a janitor, I could just say I was an employee.

Meanwhile, I kept using the excuse to my landlord that I just needed some more time and then I promised I would be out. I think he was starting to get a little annoyed and suspicious but he didn’t push. I just brought in some packing boxes so that seemed to shut him up for a while. I tested out my plan one night fully intending to stay up all night to see what the routine would end up being. IKEA opens at 9:30 in the mornings and closes at 9 pm during most of the week and 8 pm on Sunday. What I did was I arrived at 6pm on Sunday night. I got to the third floor and hid my stuff in one of the wardrobes. There’s already stuff hanging in there so no one thought any different. I walked around, got some food, basically made myself look not suspicious while making sure that my plan was complete. Around closing time, I saw again that the janitors had already arrived and started on the bathrooms. I also knew that the staff walked around the store, rearranging and making sure everything was back in place. Feigning ignorance, I just kept walking around with the last of the customers, until I saw that the bathrooms were now cleaned. I ran in one of the stalls and stayed there for 30 minutes. Let me tell you, thank goodness for my smartphone, because otherwise that would have been the most boring 30 minutes ever.

I finally peeked out and they were no where in sight. I ran to the first showcase, and dove into the bed. Thanks to all the dark comforters, I was practically invisible. I waited. The janitors eventually left the third floor after an hour of cleaning up. Interestingly they stayed away from the showcases and focused more on the kitchen area. I crawled out of the bed and went to the next showcase bedroom where I got comfortable (but not TOO comfortable) and waited out the night til the employees came back. Maybe it never dawned on them to check in all the places but just in case, I hid under one of the beds, after the lights came on. I saw feet walking around the store but no one came into any of the showrooms. I soon realized that I could make this into a reality.

So that’s where we stand now. My daily routine is like this.

  • Wake up 30 minutes before store opens.
  • Get myself ready for the day.
  • Hide under bed/in wardrobe while staff does walkthrough.
  • Store opens at 9:30, I just blend in with the morning crowd.
  • Go to work where I shower, etc.
  • Get back to IKEA at the latest 30 minutes before closing time.
  • Hide in bathroom while janitors clean.
  • Run to bed.
  • Repeat.

Sure it’s not the ideal life. But it’s FREE. Don’t judge me. YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE ME! I mean this isn’t my plan forever. But for now it’ll have to do. I mean would you rather me freeze and die out on the streets? I don’t see you trying to help me. So yeah, that’s my life. For now. At the IKEA.


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