Marc Boudreaux

Dear Mr. Ikea Manager,

I am writing you today regarding the open position for an Ikea sales associate. I saw your advertisement in the New Haven Register, and as a longtime patron of your store, I am excited to step in and make an immediate contribution. In lieu of a fancy “resume” or ostentatious “CV,” allow me to share my personal Ikea story — a story which, much like the hallowed halls of Ikea, is lengthier than you’d expect and full of Swedish surprises.

I, Herbert A. Reynolds, have been a member of the Ikea Family Rewards Program since 2002. I love Ikea’s colors: royal blue and bright yellow, which are also the colors of Sweden’s flag, I think. I love the Ikea drop-off ball pit, SMÅLAND, which is very normal and probably extremely devoid of contagious diseases. I especially love Ikea’s endless maze of aisles, which I wouldn’t want to leave, even if I knew how. I love everything about Ikea, and that is exactly why it’s my number one favorite Swedish-founded furniture department store.

Although I have little experience working in “retail,” or in “other jobs,” I have spent many days shopping in your store. As a connoisseur of Scandinavian culture, my affinity for Ikea is fueled by my passion for Sweden. Technically, I’ve never traveled to Sweden, but I have spent several minutes browsing Scandinavia’s Wikipedia page. When I do visit Sweden, I can’t wait to “swim in the Baltic Sea,” “barter with the Hanseatic League” and enjoy the capital city of “Helsinki.” If this all sounds very foreign and chic to you, Mr. Manager, do not be alarmed: I, too, was once standing in your Skor (“Skor” is Swedish for “shoes”).

You say you’re looking for a sales associate who “has people skills, is outgoing and knows what makes Ikea unique.” Do I have “people skills”? I don’t know, ask this amicably written cover letter. Am I “outgoing”? Ask my dozens of friends, especially Steve (phone number on reference sheet — Steve might sound drunk when he answers the phone, but it’s just a little joke we have). Do I “know what makes Ikea unique?” Ask the following paragraphs (please continue reading my cover letter).

With its abundance of Swedish shopping carts, rows of Swedish cash registers and multitude of mass-produced items to purchase in exchange for money, Ikea is truly unlike any other department store. Every time I leave the dreary, industrial Americanness of New Haven and walk through the Scandinavian automatic doors of Ikea (or “eye-key-ah,” as we say in Sweden), I feel like I’ve just boarded a Höga Kusten Flyg bound for Örnsköldsvik Airport in the heartland of Sweden itself. Everything reminds me exactly of how I imagine Sweden might possibly be. For example: the Swedish meatballs, etc.

After suffering through the unseasoned monotony of American cuisine, I always find myself drawn to the FÖRPACKAD MAT (packaged food section) to try such mouthwatering options as KNÄCKEBRÖD RÅG (crackers) and KAFFEREP (chocolate cookies). Good luck finding food like this at your local Wal-Mart!

In your advertisement, you said you were looking for someone who’d be “excited to come to work every morning.” Well, Mr. Manager, you’re in luck — even an intellectual like myself never quite knows what new and exciting items Ikea will have in store. For instance, I never expected to discover SMÅKRYPS (“A bath toy to stimulate your child’s development of fine motor skills”) on sale for just $3.99. Although I do not have children, nor any plans to have children, nor a wife with whom I might make said plans to have said children, I do have twelve SMÅKRYPSES lined up and ready to go just in case.

You say you’re looking for someone with “technical skills” who can “multitask and learn new things on the fly.” Am I highly skilled? Ask the ÖRFJÄLL IKEA desk chair I just assembled while defrosting a plate of Swedish meatballs. On the rare occasion that I shop at a boring, non-Swedish furniture store, I think to myself, “You know what would make this more fun? Manual labor!” Last week, I selected a minimalist desk chair in a convenient 3-meter-by-25-centimeter box. The assembled chair measured 65 centimeters in width. As a sophisticated Swede-in-training, I’ve become very familiar with the metric system (“centimeter” is Swedish for “little inch”), so I knew my chair would fit perfectly between my packages of FÖRPACKAD MAT and my stack of twelve SMÅKRYPSES.

After seven hours of poring over the instruction manual, I finally attached the ÖVERST AV STOLEN (the top of the chair) to the BOTTEN AV STOLEN (the bottom of the chair). The chair is a little crooked, but I guess that’s just how the Swedes designed it. Sitting down in a chair of your own creation … That, Mr. Manager, is what the Ikea experience is all about.

Your advertisement also says you’re looking for someone who can communicate with “customers of all backgrounds.” Well, Mr. Manager, I’m no dummy. “All backgrounds”? I know how to read between the lines. New Haven is a diverse city — and you need a sales associate who speaks fluent Swedish.

Luckily, I’ve been improving my Swedish with what I like to call “Ikea Cultural Immersion.” If you think I am sounding very exotic and intellectual, you’re exactly right — I am. Basically, Mr. Manager, I use my Concealed English-Swedish Cheat Sheet (patent pending) and attempt to engage the Ikea employees in some light Swedish banter.

Like any rational sophisticate, I begin the dialogue with simple questions. “Vart är badrummet?” (Where is the bathroom?) Then I move onto intermediate phrases, like, “Minns du svenska sagan där vår tapper hjälte mötte modet att utmana Dovregubben, trollkungens konung, till dödlig strid?” (Do you remember the Swedish fairy tale where our valiant hero mustered the courage to challenge Dovregubben, king of the trolls, to mortal combat?)

The employees never respond in Swedish. Sometimes, a scary Ikea man named Terry yells at me, “Hey, idiot, you’re not allowed to climb into the display beds with your shoes on!” in a very endearing way. I love being part of inside jokes.Whenever Scary Terry forcibly removes me from the FÖRPACKAD MAT section, leaving a trail of KNÄCKEBRÖD RÅG crumbs in my wake, I know it’s nothing personal. I guess that’s just part of the Swedish charm.

But I digress. My message to you, Mr. Manager, is this: Ikea is not your average, everyday furniture department store. I, Herbert A. Reynolds, am not your average, everyday sales associate. We’re a match made in Swedish heaven.

Vänliga hälsningar,

Herbert A. Reynolds

P.S. I’m willing to work for as little as 58.49 Swedish Krona per hour.

P.P.S. “Krona” is Swedish for “twelve cents.”

Caleb Cohen caleb.cohen@yale.edu