You know that dawning realisation when you look at the thing you’ve bought and the size of your car…

We had visited IKEA and while daughter queued to buy hot dogs for a treat, we took our modest purchases back to the car and sat waiting for her, just chilling, just enjoying doing a normal thing, with other people wandering about doing a normal thing too. A couple pushed a trolley towards the car parked opposite us. We had parked facing outwards, they had parked facing in so we had a perfect view of their boot, and the size of it when they opened it. The couple were, I guess, in their twenties, he was tall and slight and earnest looking, slight beard, dark rimmed glasses, cap, she was tall, broader and I did think she had a slightly severe look. I hadn’t really noticed them until my husband pointed out that they had managed to get their purchase, a big flat pack, possibly a chest of drawers into their car with the back seats put down to give extra boot space.

The problem was, the boot space was not big enough to accommodate the flat pack. How we sympathised! We remembered the time when we lived near Manchester and had driven over to the IKEA in Leeds to buy some item of bedroom furniture for the children’s room, possibly a bed, and had then realised with the children in the car as well there was a problem. By great determination and the children sitting under the item and with my front seat so far forward I virtually had my chin on the dash board, we managed to get home with the load secure and us seat-belted and secure too. We watched the couple sympathetically as they kept pushing their flat pack as if it would make it smaller somehow, but even with the front passenger seat paused forward it wouldn’t fit.

We were giving them instructions, even though they couldn’t hear us.  Put it on its side so its a slant. Recline the passenger seat so it can go over it and one of you sit in the back behind the driver…  We had so many good suggestions, as they kept pushing the package, looking at it from every angle and in at it from the front doors. He was busy she was increasingly grumpy. Then we realised they had another pack, a shorter but square one, a large cardboard boxed cube in fact. Good grief! They put this in on top of the other flat pack and we realised that they intended to somehow secure the boot so it was open but tied shut. Hmm, tricky, possibly dangerous… Especially if the rope/tether/whatever was stretchy and very thin.

We had nothing we could give them, we had no ropes or straps or anything to offer, so we watched mutely from our car as he wound one end of the stretchy thin cord round the rear wiper and fixed the other to something beneath the car. Miss, meanwhile, had got in behind the wheel, she was going to drive home and he would be squashed in the pushed forward passenger seat… when he had finished with his tying. He realised that the boot wouldn’t hold closed securely so he retied it; then he found some other straps which looked equally slight, but at least the boot, though slightly open, the flat pack peeping out, seemed semi-secure. He reached into the passenger side and pulled out a brown bag – they had also bought themselves hotdogs, but they must be quite cooldogs now. He ate his, and chips, and drank a can of something, standing outside the car. Was he avoiding getting in, was he not allowed to eat in the car?

He climbed in and we were relieved for them that they were able to drive home at last. She slowly reversed out, then went forwards, then reversed again. She repeated this tentative manoeuvre but at last backed out and tried to turn to head out of the car park. 47 manoeuvres later (I’m exaggerating, but it did take her about five minutes to back out) she realised there was a one-way system in the car park and she was facing the wrong way. Poor soul, but her face was like thunder, although we pretended not to look as she eventually drove slowly past going in the correct direction.

We caught up with them shortly after at a busy intersection with a traffic roundabout. She was in the wrong lane, and desperately signalling and hoping someone would slow and let her into the central lane to go straight over. We couldn’t, we were in the outside lane, and as we waited at the next traffic lights, we saw them slowly progressing off the roundabout and head, we hoped, safely for home.

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