There are only three of us in my immediate family, but I shop at Costco. if we need a castle of paper towels or a bottle of shampoo, I go to Costco. it’s not because I am a savvy shopper, a careful consumer or even a half-healed hoarder. I go there because i’m both lonely and hate most human interaction. Costco is my buffer, my go-between, my beard, my chaperone. It protects me from the human race while allowing me limited contact. It gives me the opportunity to be a male Jane Goodall (but without all that messy compassion).
I especially like spying on the many amoebic tribes that spread out and across Costco’s bald, cement floors in a constant search for free samples. Finding their prey, they pounce on the tiny, white-smocked serving women’s little paper cups. Modern gluttony exposed beneath the bright, slaughterhouse lighting.
But the samplers are only one of the huge warped pieces to my Costco fetish. I am weak in the knees for the Somali-style refugee like check outs. Who can deny the excited agitation and excitement that comes from waiting in one of those convoluted lines. It’s addictive–like sky-diving or cheating on your taxes.
I can always rely on a long, drawn out check-out experience at Costco. It’s part of the oversized package. And I love the ever-present puzzled woman who ,while under pressure, forgets how to separate herself from her cart — does she go left and the cart goes right? Or is it the other way around? The rest of us look on, miming our incredulity in a plethora of somatic gestures and eye rolls. Emotions are prickly, but the flabby middle aged cashier in clothes so tight they might be considered explosive, points to the two red signs and calmly explains, as she has for the past five years to countless others, just how customer and cart should be disentangled. The lesson we learn: Costco is patient, like geological erosion.
No matter how dehumanizing Costco tries to be with its stark steel and it’s survivalist-friendly, 12-month portions, it’s mountains of pants and it’s walls of underwear, humanity breaks through. You may have to buy a package of toilet paper as big as your couch, but it’s cheap, and the human circus performs daily.