Pretentious, Self-Important Toronto Man Outraged that he cannot get Service in Swedish at GTA Ikea
TORONTO: Toronto writer and film maker Duncan Timothies-Herald expressed
outrage today at his inability to receive service in Swedish, "the
language of the great Bergman himself," at an Etobicoke outlet
of the Swedish-based home furnishing conglomerate located in 32
countries around the world and best known for its cheap yet trendy
Said the disgruntled auteur, "I am absolutely speechless.
This establishment plays up its Swedishness ad infinitum. I mean,
everything that one sees is yellow and royal blue, the colour, of
course, of the Swedish flag and of the 'Tre Kronor,' or three
crowns, a symbol of Swedish heritage and tradition that represents
the three crowned gods of the Uppsala, the seat of a holy
gathering place in Swedish folklore, before the introduction of
"Yet, you ask some pimpled-face sales clerk 'Du kant Svenska?'
and he looks at you like you're some provincial scoundrel from the
outer boondocks of northern Finland," fumed an indignant Timothies-Herald
before adding that on May 7, 1697, Stockholm's most cherished building,
the royal castle which was also known as Tre Kronor, burned
to the ground.
"But I'm sure you already know this," concluded the aggrieved
His pedantic history lesson over, Timothies-Herald then continued
with his tale of Ikea outrage. "After my initial encounter
with said disinterested, myopic sales lackey, I demanded to speak
with the manager, who was equally unresponsive."
The sales clerk in question, 18 year-old Toronto high school student
Lance Gilroy, countered Timothies-Herald's story:
"This total pompous ass poseur with a beret and a cape and
a walking stick comes up to me, even though I tried to avoid him
by hiding behind some lamps, and he pulls out a phrase book with
a little Swedish flag on it and he tries to say something like,
that sounded like he was coughing up a hairball or something,"
"Dude sounded like a low-rent version of the Swedish chef
from the Muppet Show."
. Gilroy muttered before
departing for a snack of lutfisk and ostekaka during his break in
the Swedish-style cafeteria found in each Ikea location.
The Etobicoke Ikea, a 36,000,000 square foot outlet that employs
194 people and 22 Volvo-built robots, has no staff that speaks Swedish,
according to store manager Mike McDougall.
"We really don't have any customers who speak Swedish, or
if they do, they speak English too. Swedish isn't very widely spoken
outside of Sweden, from what head office informs me," said
Timothies-Herald reaches for a dish from his Ljurndeherdern
"How many unilingual Swedish speakers do you know in Canada?"
McDougall asked rhetorically.
Timothies-Herald, who is currently working on his seventeenth novel,
"How dismissive! At issue is not whether or not there is a
sufficient amount of Swedish speaking clientele to justify employing
dedicated Swedish staff, nor is the issue whether or not I can actually
speak Swedish. It is a difficult language to master, and my accent
is thick, not being a native speaker, which can make me hard to
understand," he said, failing to acknowledge the irony in the
final part of his comment.
What is at issue, according to this animated 'creative visionary,'
is one's right to be served in the language of their choice. "By
the beard of Ibsen, my language of choice is Swedish. Everything
about this place is supposed to be so Swedish, but I have to be
informed if the Gotheborg CD rack comes in olive green in
English only? I don't think so. I am the customer."
When informed that Timothies-Herald plans to contact the Shawinigan-based
federal Swedish Language Commissioner's office with his alleged
grievance, McDougall refused comment, referring all media inquiries
to Ikea's headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden.
Posted on June 15th, 2001