My wife makes a list and sends me to Costco once a week. She knows I hate it. The long lines, the cheesy giveaways, the crowds, and most of all the parking. Oh, the parking. Thousands of cars. I shop at the East Sprague Costco, which means that I have to leave my car parked in Rathdrum.
My wife goes to work every day. I am early retired. Sending me to do something awful is therapy for her. Also she has purchased a life insurance policy on me. It carries a triple-indemnity clause that pays off if I am killed in a grocery store. And Costco has those towering racks stacked with heavy items waiting to fall on some hapless shopper who has to lean against the shelves to study his list and ponder, “What is organic couscous?”
I guess I should be happy that my darling doesn’t send me to the mall for female underthings. Even if we don’t need anything from Costco, she makes up stuff.
There are just the two of us living in our home. But I am instructed to buy as though we are supplying groceries for Boys Town. Costco sells stuff in multiple-item packages. You can’t buy just a bottle of root beer and a Baby Ruth.
As she heads out of the door to work, my stern marital partner gruffly advises me to add to our Costco shopping list, “Get yourself some new briefs, your old ones are disgusting. And remember your size is 2XL there, Slim Jim.” My name is not Jim.
I was forced to buy lettuce hearts (a dozen or so?), 24 frozen tamales, a five-pack of briefs, two jugs of extra-virgin olive oil (not the sleazy plain virgin) and a package of 120 battered fish sticks which I believe is a day’s catch for a crew of Gloucester fishermen.
When I finally got everything on the list, I pushed the jumbo grocery cart up to one of the legions of check-out registers, where each cashier has long lines of people with a minimum of two jumbo grocery carts each stacked high with hundreds of items. I picked the shortest line, maybe 75 people.
I finally get to the front of the line and begin to put my stuff on the roller belt that leads to the cash register. Some young kid, probably an employee, jerks my cart away and says, “I’ll do that.” He grimaces and takes over the unloading of my cart. I am thankful he didn’t call me gramps.
The cashier scans everything, then informs me that my Costco card has expired and that she will add the renewal fee on top of my bill. I had just enough cash to pay for my purchases before the renewal fee.
Now I have to dig for some plastic in my wallet to pay the bill. This takes more time. The 75 people in line behind me all groan simultaneously. Babies start to cry. The situation makes me nervous. After a while, my ATM card magically appears in a billfold slot that I never use. I don’t want to be trouble, but the added tension makes my PIN number jettison from my brain.
I have that number written on a piece of paper folded 44 times and hidden in a secret compartment in my billfold.
A voice booms over the store’s loudspeaker, “THE STORE IS CLOSING IN ONE HALF-HOUR.” More babies start crying in the line behind me.
I punched in the PIN number (three tries, I was nervous) and the cashier pulled up my receipt. Some people in the line applauded. I nodded and waved to the crowd before I realized those clappers were mocking me.
I felt bad about making the unhappy souls in my line wait, so I faced them and pointed to the snack bar near the exit door. I shouted my invitation, “HOT DOGS ON ME!”
No one broke out of the line, so I pushed my cart out the front door at an increasing pace and then began the long trek back to my car parked in Rathdrum.