In an effort to model wholeness, or τέλειος as I have written about elsewhere, I am going to describe the opposite and equally compelling mystery of the love I found in Ikea with the extreme contempt I discovered in Costco.
Like so many others, I too have fallen prey to the lure of a big box store full of more-than-mediocre quality items in bulk at discounted prices. Ever since I discovered that Costco sold diapers and formula at nearly half the cost of grocery stores I have made weekly trips there for my goods and sundries. In Colorado, I seemed to time my visits where I experienced the giant warehouse nearly empty and I had free reign to peruse at my leisure. Generally, that time was Friday nights. Karl and I would take the kids and sit them side-by-side in the giant carts and meander our way through the warehouse stocking up on everything from dog food to underwear. And the luxury of also being able to skip making dinner at home and instead dine on hot dogs and pizza slices available in Costco at a cheap rate proved equally satisfying.
However, that scenario has not been the case in Seattle. Whether living in the city proper or overpopulation, I can not for the life of me find a time to shop at Costco when I don’t have to park at the back of the lot and sell my soul for a cart just to get discounted fruits and vegetables and milk. Don’t forget the milk! I have tried arriving the minute they open their doors in the morning. I have also tried going over my lunch hour. I have tried arriving thirty minutes before closing time. I have gone on weekends and weekdays, and even holidays. All this trying has led to no avail. There was one time when it seemed like I would be able to drive my cart down the aisles without being forced into an unhappy charade of bumper carts. It was Black Friday. Since Costco is already discounted and wasn’t offering extreme pricing, the store was only moderately busy. O, how I wish every Friday was Black Friday at Costco.
Alas, that is a dream of time gone by. When hope was high and life worth living. Because the tigers come at night, in the morning, and during the day with their cart’s wheels soft as thunder. And they tear your hope apart and they turn your dream to shame.
Now, I wait in one of ten lanes behind six cars to fill my car with cheap gas. Then I get at least 2,000 of my 10,000 daily steps just by walking from my car to the store’s entrance. Then, I traverse the landscape of bulk specialty items like camping equipment and lawn fertilizer on my way to the back of the store only to realize after I added another 2,000 steps that they no longer sell Tillamook Tilla-Moos. Those slices of happiness were apparently on a month-to-month lease at Costco and have recently been evicted.
Then, I patiently wait outside the dairy room rubbing my hands together preparing to shiver. I am pausing to allow the cul-de-sac refrigerator room to empty, and am cut off by another more aggressive cart driver who wore a coat and didn’t need to warm up first. If men experience road rage behind the wheels of their powerful cars, I am a woman who experiences cart rage behind the wheels of my powerful over-sized Costco shopping cart. I fantasize pushing past the island of seasonal confectionaries and ramming the ankles of the one who cut me off. However, I practice my deep breathing techniques and remain controlled and only think angry, expletive thoughts.
I finish my trip having added an additional 4,000 steps because I forgot to get toilet paper and end up in a check out line with four carts in front of me. Because the line is so long, I am conveniently placed waiting in the snack section and taunted by a giant vat of Milk Duds. I am already going to spend a whole paycheck on only ten items, so, why not add the Milk Duds? I won’t even pretend that they will last until my visit next week. Because really, the only thing that gets me through this ordeal every week is a giant vat of something. Given it’s size and caloric content, it should last a long time, whatever that vat of something is, but given that I am feeding my contempt what it demands – sugar to comatize my anxiety – I confess it may be eaten by the time I drive home. Not really. But only because I don’t even like Milk Duds.