Excuse me, sir? Sir? Oh good, you’ve stopped. I know that my long hair and shaggy beard are a bit off-putting, but I really need to ask you a very important question.

Do you know how to get out of this IKEA?

That blue sign over there tells me to simply follow the arrows until they lead me to the loading dock, then out the door, but no matter how closely I follow them, I just end up in the Bedroom Department again.

Ask an employee for directions, you say? Oh my innocent friend, if only it were that simple. I did ask one once. In the beginning, when I still had hope for escape. I cornered him alone by the Gaägtorp cabinets.

“How do I get out of here?” I asked, my eyes bright, my hair well trimmed, and my beard nonexistent.

He stared off into the distance, his eyes unfocused. “Well, there’s no easy answer to that question…”

I waited for the end of that sentence and the end of my IKEA purgatory. But the expected directions never came. The yellow-vested crusher of dreams continued to stare silently into space until I gave up and left, the first inklings of despair beginning to creep into my soul. I’ve been wandering ever since. I used to try to follow other people out, but they would get lost too and then, out of fear, they’d purposely lose me in the Living Room section.

It’s not all bad, of course. I am well fed by those delicious Swedish meatballs and cinnamon buns. At night I sleep soundly in the Klaspabar Queen-sized bed. You should see the matching loft beds of the Klaspabar line, by the way. Fantastic deals. During the day I roam, hoping to find the one person who will lead me to freedom. Perhaps it is that young couple over there, arguing near the Floögtärd lamps. Perhaps it is that old man. Or that child. Perhaps it is you.

But why are you edging away? We are not so different, you and I. I used to be like you, going into IKEAs willy-nilly, shopping in an efficient manner before exiting and reentering the sweet, sweet sunlight of the outdoors. Until that day I came in for more of those cheap black plastic hangers and simply got a little turned around. It couldn’t have been that long ago. It’s still 2008, right?

Fine, fine, go ahead and leave. But I know you’ll come crawling back. I just saw you take a left into Kitchenware, the very same mistake I made all that time ago. From there you’ll take the second right into Textiles and then you’ll truly be lost. Don’t worry, my new friend, I’ll save you some of those meatballs with Lingonberry sauce for dinner tonight.