Don’t tell me you’ve never encountered this scenario: you return home with your long, flat box, excited to assemble your BILLY bookcase from IKEA and finally have somewhere to put all your books.
Yes, you have actual books instead of e-books because you’re not so caught up in modern technology that you dismiss everything that can’t be plugged in. Just try displaying your entire Harry Bosch series—20 novels of pure detective fun from crime novelist Michael Connelly—in Kindle format. Yeah, right.
Feeling like an actual carpenter, you carefully slice open the plastic ties, unpack the box, and lay out all the pre-cut pieces on your floor. Next you stop for a break because you’re already pretty tired. Not so much from any physical “exertion” you’ve experienced, but from the mental exertion you know is to come, due to…
…all those little shiny silver screws!
For the BILLY bookcase alone, you are looking at 75 different screws (plus two washers and a bracket). Seventy-five screws!!
There are fourteen steps to the process of building this shelf, and as you stand there on the verge of tears, you silently berate yourself for not paying the extra $39 to have the IKEA experts put it together for you—or at least paying more attention to Tim Allen on Home Improvement.
Taking a deep breath—and a generous swig of false confidence (a.k.a. beer)—you roll up your sleeves and get to work. Besides a few pauses to memorize how to say “Warning!” in multiple languages (AVERTISSEMENT! ACHTUNG! VIÐVÖRUN! FIGYELEM! ВНИМАНИЕ!), you actually start to see the semblance of a bookshelf.
And then somewhere around Step 5 (although you can’t be sure; all the pictures are starting to look the same), it all goes to hell. That’s when you recognize yourself in the sketches in the warning section:
The problem lies in the fact that you have extra screws of one variety and are missing several screws of another. Even though you’re sure you counted them all correctly in the first step.
Whoever took your IKEA screws is probably the same mischievous little imp who steals your socks, moves your keys, and eats the last of your favorite Trader Joe’s Greek Yogurt. Where is Detective Harry Bosch when you need him??
For a moment you decide to think like a detective, and you actually find an online catalogue of IKEA developed fittings, which describes its aim as showing “the range in a structured way divided into product and item groups.” There is a section called “Fasteners,” which you hasten to, only to discover that knowing what the different types of IKEA screws are is not the same as having a professional carpenter magically appear in your home to assemble the goddamn BILLY bookcase for you.
Next you go onto the IKEA website and find, in the FAQ section, the response to your exact question:
Q. Can I buy spare parts or hardware?
A. If the pieces are not originally sold separately from the product, the pieces cannot be purchased separately in the future. The entire product would need to be purchased again. Some stores do have hardware pieces for sale. Check your local IKEA store for availability.
You feel the frustration rising in you like Mt. Vesuvius about to blow and try calling the Swedish-for-common-sense-my-ass store, but after pressing 1 for this, 2 for that, and 3 for hell, you tap the ‘disconnect’ icon on your smartphone in a fury, gather up all the pieces of the incompletely assembled shelf, and toss it in the dust bin.
Then you buy yourself a Kindle. No screws required.