Pencil-Collecting Madness

(this post coming to your straight from IKEA!)

Apologies in advance for any spelling or formatting errors, but I’m using this version of the WordPress app to write a post for the first time, while navigating the labyrinthine catacombs beneath IKEA Tottenham; such a trip reminded me of why I love IKEA – the layout, the furniture, the food – but specifically, me and my sister’s pursuit of the little wooden pencils they dispense from stations throughout the store.

The idea is that you use these pencils to mark measurements and favourite items on a catalogue as you pass them on the show floor, fully constructed, so you can select the appropriate items once you reach the warehouse-like exist, where everything is placed in neat, flat cardboard boxes, like a supermarket crossed with a child’s box fort.

However, the pencils are dispensed from containers holding thousands of them, that are unmanned by staff, so it’s easy to swipe and dozen and stuff them in your pockets within half a second. Me and my sister exploited this, filling pockets, trouser waistbands, sleeves and even socks with these pencils, in a form of bizarre sibling rivalry involving using writing implements for things other than writing; we were like the unusually competitive offspring of a pencil-maker who had neglected to teach their children how to write in ironic circumstances.

We were also devious with our game; there was invariably a final dispenser at the end of the store, into which we would shove all of our pencils once the shopping was competed to avoid suspicion; we were oblivious to the fact that the dispenser would invariably run out of space (filled with our, honestly, hundreds of pencils) and we’d have to leave them on top, or by the foot of, the poor dispenser.

Sometimes, having mastered the art of pencil-hoarding, we would play a handicapped version, where we would not be allowed to take pencils from the dispensers, and we would have to scavenge supplies from under sofas and tables, that had rolled there by mistake; we soon saw the benefits of this version, that the dispensers at the end weren’t stuffed to a painfully conspicuous degree.

But it’s all nostalgia now; scrabbling around on the floor of a warehouse for pencils isn’t my idea of fun any more, sadly. It’s way more fun to blog about it and reminisce years later.


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