Living in Shanghai, where the population is about 24 million people, is busy. People are everywhere. You get pushed around sometimes. You have to fight for your part of the sidewalk sometimes. There are long lines- well, that is if there’s a line at all; we’re still working on that concept. After living here nearly 5 years, you get used to the crowds and busyness all around, and most of the time it’s manageable. Except for IKEA. On a Saturday. I know not to do it. I know what it’s like. I know to avoid it like the plague, but I couldn’t avoid it today. I just had to get some stuff for my new office at work and haven’t been able to make it over there in the evenings. So I mustered up the strength to brave the crowds and went for it. As expected, I was there with about 10,000 of my closest friends, many of whom just came for the free heating and cheap food in the canteen- can you say 1 kuai ice cream cones?!? As I made my way through the maze of furniture and people, I kept my sanity by listening to music. This helped drown out the sound and gave me a little peace. I also avoided going against the crowd. When you’re shopping, sometimes you pass a section by, only to realize you forgot to pick something up, so you turn around and head back. Oh no…doing that here is akin to a lonely fish trying to swim upstream with a school of bigger fish coming their way. It’s something to avoid at all costs. I passed up a few items, but today, they remained at IKEA and not in my basket. Frankly, it wasn’t worth it. Once you make it to the warehouse, you breathe a sign of relief, knowing it’s almost over. Walking in, I had to chuckle when I saw the kid on the leash. And you can’t tell from this picture, but the dad was pulling on him, much like you pull on a dog’s leash when they get out of line and you’re trying to show them who’s boss. The checkout lines are insane! Every one of them open- thankfully- they are full of people just waiting to take their goods home. Once I made it through the checkout lines, I still wasn’t done. I had to wait in another line for delivery. There’s no way I was going to wait in a long taxi line, in the rain, to schlep my unbuilt furniture to school today. No thanks. I’ll pay the 100 kuai for them to bring it to me on Monday. After that, I have to wait in another line to get a fapiao, or an official receipt, so that I can be reimbursed from school. With all my tasks completed, I headed home, ready to relax for the remainder of the afternoon. I had survived.