Wash and I rode the bus (and the max) on Wednesday for the first time.
My first trip was to Ikea. A person’s gotta have their red sheets, LACK table and faux sheep fur carpet to feel better. And after this recurring feeling of alienation Wash and I’d been having all day, a little familiarity sounded great. I felt like the business man in Neil Stephenson’s Snow Crash who goes to McDonald’s when he’s in some unfamiliar part of the world in order to find some comfort among all the foreigness. Just that I’m a vegan and McDonald’s does not go with my dietary needs. Next best (or even better) thing to get comfort from: Ikea. No matter where in the world you go, Ikea is Ikea. The fun, unpronounceable names, the cool little knick knacks that are supposed to make life less messy (and they actually do the trick, too. I love Ikea Ordnungssysteme!), the easy to assemble and easy to carry around without a car furniture. It was like a (Swedish) part of home.
Until I went to the restroom. What’s the deal with these bathroom stalls? You don’t even have to bend low to peek at who’s doing what in the stall next to you. Not cool. But shy bladders aside, there was something else in there that I actually want to commend Ikea Portland for. I don’t know if this is a general American thing, or just Ikea Portland being really cool, but we definitely don’t have this at any Ikea I’ve been to in Germany.
A tampon vending machine! I’ve seen all kinds of vending machines in public restrooms, but most of them sell condoms or ‘sexy’ (and I use this term very lax here) underwear or sex toys. I see where the condoms might come in useful and smart and even life-saving, but the other stuff… Who am I to judge, right? Actually the best part about this particular vending machine at Ikea Portland: the tampons are for free. As someone who has been to that dark place of needing a tampon and not having one at hand, I almost felt like crying in delight over the suffering that would be erased from the world because of this vending machine. And so Wash and I repaid Ikea Portland for their kindness by spending $100 on… stuff…