The Burmese delivery bros are not amused. But what can I do? Somewhere in the cyberpunk glossolalia of IKEA’s Bangkok-Chiang Mai online ordering system, clothes drying rack got misinterpreted as gilded balsa wood concert harp floor piece. I can’t dry my clothes on that thing. I don’t even want to look at it.
The delivery bros stand a fair distance from me near the front of the lobby, muttering and drinking Red Bulls, waiting to hear from the warehouse. They avoid all eye contact. The harp is beside them wrapped in a foam sheet, sticking out of its torn cardboard box like a half-dressed assault victim. There is a tangible sense that something has gone horribly wrong here. And I think I am to blame.
Inwardly, I’m convinced that Swedish was the problem. I clicked on OTTSJÖN, which somehow became HARPA while passing through หิ้ง. Human words were never intended to be subjected to the brutal alchemy of that much IT, the signal lost in the noise, the noise reforming into something decorative for the living room, costing 1,517 Baht, with no discernible value whatsoever to the end user. Nobody wants a gold-leafed ornamental concert หิ้ง. Such a thing should not exist. It’s bad luck to even think about it.
Obviously, the harp is not playable. It has a gold-painted wooden slat in the middle with strings drawn on it. And I can imagine the bros muttering, between swallows of Red Bull, that this is everything wrong with the world. Harps that don’t harp. A nervous looking foreigner saying mai ow, mai ow, I don’t want. If he doesn’t want, why did he order it? Why did we have to drive it out in the enormous military panel truck from Samut Prakan in the heat? For that matter, why IKEA?
Oh, you poor innocent souls. You are dealing with Swedish furniture. You can ask why IKEA, but you’ll never get a comprehensible answer. You might as well ask why the rain. As a westerner, I know this. I know there is a difference between an OTTSJÖN, a GRUSBLAD, and a RÅGRUND, but you can bet your HAFSLO I wouldn’t be able to explain it in a way that another human being could understand—fråga inte varför.
I could take them upstairs to my tastefully wallpapered concrete sky box and show them that nails and tacks cannot penetrate. In the sad pantomime of the illiterate farang, I could explain that my weird intestine-shaped latex braid with loops on the ends—itself from an earlier, even less comprehensible incarnation of IKEA—is meant to function as an indoor clothesline, but it can find no purchase here. My apartment is farang-proof. And so I must have an OTTSJÖN and I must have it now.
Someone barks an order to them loud enough that I can hear it through their cell phone. Without a backward glance, they lift the harp and carry it back to the truck. They grunt and frown and it seems quite heavy. The whole spectacle makes me feel worse.
This afternoon, I guess I will be draping my clothes on my MALM and over the back of my INGATORP. The delievery bros will disappear into the toxic haze of Bangkok traffic. And the harp will go back to the ancient warehouse beyond the Chao Phraya to wait in the dark with the others of its kind.