Sunday, March 6, 2011

Scariest Place on Earth

Last week, my son and I were lying in bed, discussing the day. He had a lot of questions about gravity, Heaven, and other important things. As I was about to leave, he grabbed my arm and said with a serious face, “Mom, where is the scariest place on Earth?” I thought about it for a minute and without missing a beat I said, “Costco on a Sunday.”

Earlier that day my husband and I had made the horrible decision to run to Costco and get some things for a small family gathering we were having that afternoon. We should have known better; but sometimes the call of spinach artichoke dip and extra large shrimp platters are just too much.

To begin with, the parking lot was a disaster. Costco parking lots are scarier than a county fair in Alabama. The parking lot was filled with people doing the “slow stalk”…you know, when drivers spot someone who has barely left the store and proceeds to pull up a few feet behind them and tail them to their car. The poor souls leaving are forced to quickly find their car, unpack their stuff, and reverse back out of their spot before they are injured. Cars were everywhere, blinkers were blinking, horns were blaring and middle fingers were pointing...not exactly what Jesus had hoped for when he made Sunday a sacred day of rest. Eventually we found a spot, next to a woman unloading 60 cans of Raman Noodles, and we prepared to make our way into the store. My husband looked at me and said, “Let’s get in and get out.” I agreed, but unfortunately, we didn’t stand a chance.

We barely made it to the front door because the line for people buying $1 hot dogs and supersized soft serve ice cream was a mile deep. After wrestling the last remaining cart from a family of ten, we headed in to get what was on our list. All we planned on buying were a package of little sausages, 3 dips, a shrimp platter, and 2 ready to cook pizzas. But somewhere along the journey, the wheels came off.

From the start, the electronic section distracted my husband and caused him to lose his focus. He kept wandering off to look at new flat screen TV’s, digital cameras and laptop computers. I tried to get him back on track so we could keep moving forward but suddenly we got stuck. There were people everywhere and we couldn’t move at all. I didn’t know what the hold up was until I suddenly heard a man on the microphone yelling:


By the length of the line in front of us, you would have thought we were at a Refugee camp in Africa, people elbowing each other and waiting for hours. Either these people didn’t know they were about to receive a 1-inch white bathroom cup filled with a half a sip of a smoothie or they didn’t care. When the new batch was made, they pushed and shoved their way up as if it was the last meal they would ever have. It was vicious…it was scary…it was America at its best.

Of course, it didn’t stop there. There were samples all over the store causing bottlenecks and traffic jams. Every sample station was full of customers waiting patiently for 15 to 20 minutes as women, wearing hair nets and probably named Bertha, slowly reheated and passed out things such as Mexican Taquitos, fish sticks, and bagel bites. More than once I heard them say, “Please only take one sample per person” and someone would answer, “Is it okay if I get this one for my friend?” No, its not okay…none of it was okay.

After about 30 minutes we had everything we needed and were ready to head out the door. But then I saw something hanging from the ceiling. It was an above ground pool that I thought the kids would just love. “Honey, do you think the kids would like a pool?” I asked. My husband looked at me and said “Don’t you think there is something fundamentally wrong about buying a pool in the same place we just bought Rotisserie chicken and ground beef.” We avoided that purchase but unfortunately found ourselves buying many things we didn’t need. At one point when we were debating if we needed a tent, we knew we had gone to far. We don’t camp; we don’t plan on camping, and we barely even like the outdoors. Costco had taken us hostage and we needed to get out fast.

That’s when tragedy struck. There are a lot of bad things that can happen to you in Costco, you can spend too much money, buy stuff you don’t need, and wait an hour for one piece of greasy pizza. But nothing compares to the terror of running into someone you know. …

I have decided that when you are in Costco, you should act the same way you do in a locker room. Everyone should keep their eyes up, looking directly at people’s faces, and never EVER peering into someone else’s cart. Why? Because having someone look at what you have bought at Costco is similar to them seeing you naked, it is embarrassing and not pretty to look at.

Before I could turn and run, we spotted a couple we knew and they started to walk over. I didn’t have a chance to put back the giant box of tampons, three 3 large bottles of Vodka, or 2 cases of Cotonelle moist wipes. They were right there along with Rogaine Hair Replacement shampoo and an industrial size bottle of Astroglide. I tried to move the dips and chips to cover everything but it was too late. They looked at us, and then down at our cart, and back up at towards our faces. It wasn’t fair because all they had was milk, diapers, and a new DVD. How could they make us look so bad?

In the end we said the things you say to each other when you see people at Costco like “Wow, this place is really crowded” or “Looks like you’re having a party?” and “You can’t get out of here for less than $300!” After pretending that they didn’t see what we had, they turned and headed back to the meat section. We got in line, unloaded our goods, and waited for them to ring up our bill. As I tried to jam all our food into boxes, the cashier said, “Your total is $436.71. Also, your membership is up and it will be $100 to renew. Would you like to add that to your total?” Sure…why not. Put it on my bill and go ahead and put that above ground pool and tent on hold…we will be back next week to pick those up.


  1. Ha-ha-ha-ha! One of the things about aging that's actually SWEET is that once the kiddies are grown and gone, the need for Costco goes out the window.

    Of course, by the time I got to the middle of your blog today, the Post-Traumatic-Shopping-Disorder from years of Sam's Club battles caused a Tourette's-like tic to start anew. Sigh ...

    GREAT post, Kelsey!

  2. they make industrial size bottles of astroglide? might have to renew my costco membership.