Costco's weird spell
"We stare at the garbage can.
I lean forward and run my hand over the top of it again and the top opens, almost magically. How stupid, I think. Who needs to have a battery-powered garbage can with a top that opens with a simple wafture of a hand.
I look at my wife. She continues to stare at it, considering this miracle of garbage collection.
"It changed my life," a middle-aged lady standing beside me says, her male partner nodding affirmatively. Where did she come from?
We both quizzically turn to the lady and her partner.
"I mean, I thought it would be stupid, but I can't imagine what I would do without this garbage can," she says more excitedly. The male nods like a happy cocker spaniel.
My wife is drawn in by the couple. "Does it really work?" she asks, now intrigued, passing her hand over the lid to watch it wondrously open.
"Oh yes, it's so convenient. And my dog has no idea how to get into this garbage."
Must be a stupid dog, I think, but she's hooked my wife.
We are in Costco.
We recently upgraded our standing to "Executive Costco Cardholder," a special distinction reserved for … well actually … for anybody who wants to shell out an extra $55. Not sure why we did this, aside from the fact that we can accumulate points faster to pay for our executive privilege.
In my normal life, I scrutinize purchases and budgets, often looking for the most minuscule of cost savings.
I'll travel across town to get a bargain on canned tomatoes, but for some reason, I fall under a weird spell in Costco and become a consumer-mad idiot, buying items that I would never dream of.
I convince myself to stock up on household items and odd things that make little sense unless I'm running a restaurant or organizing block parties for a living.
The smart ones, the planners, get together and plan their Costco excursions. They plan with whom to share and divide six heads of lettuce, eight LED light bulbs, a pound of fresh garlic or 10 lbs of ground turkey.
I'm not that organized. A few months ago, we bought a 1.36 kg jar of chopped garlic. Six months later, we've used maybe a tenth of the jar.
Don't get me wrong. We've bought a lot of useful things in this warehouse. I don't know what we'd do without our plastic outdoor shed, two large-screen TVs, basement flooring and those enormous tomato cans.
My wife leaves me to check out the baking aisle. She has come today to find a favourite pumpkin-loaf mix that she heard through her Costco connections was available this month.
I begin my usual search for a food-sample table. Saturday is full of these.
I wander over to the videos and bestsellers space.
My wife snaps me out of my daze. She walks to the end of the aisle, beckoning me to follow her. "I want you to check out this streetlamp."
A streetlamp? What the hell do we want with a street lamp? I thought you were coming for pumpkin loaf?
I follow my wife and pass the plastic sheds. I notice a couple staring at the plastic Fisher Price-like shed for adults, the same one I bought last summer. The man wanders into it. The woman simply stares, armed crossed.
I instinctively stop beside the couple.
"You know, this shed has been awesome for us. And so easy to put together. Will last forever," I say.
They nod appreciatively, ask me a few questions and decide to buy one. Only $1,000. They begin a search for a giant cart to transport their whimsical bounty.
I stand, wide-eyed. What have I done?
I back away from the couple and look for my wife. I catch up to her. She is staring at a street lamp in an adjacent aisle. My god, it's a real solar-powered street lamp. I can't help but join in on the fixation.
We must leave, we can't stand here any longer. I grab my wife's elbow and pull her to the main aisle.
I push our cart quickly toward the cashier.
"What's the rush?" my wife says, skipping after me. I don't listen, and lean on the cart with urgency.
The lines are long, but we pay quickly with a cluster of helpers working the till area.
That's the most we've ever spent in this place, except for the shed purchase, of course, but that one doesn't count.
I stare at our cart full of buys. Should I really eat that much popcorn? What's the point of three computer cartridges? How many light bulbs does anyone need? Hey, how did those taquitos get in my cart? I just noticed that the garbage can comes with an extra mini-magical receptacle – bonus.
I turn my cart toward the exit. My wife talks casually about the streetlamp, maybe next time, she says.
I am not listening. I am only interesting in a Polish sausage and pop for a measly buck and a half, the last leg of the Costco journey.
My wife parks our cart and stakes a table.
My mind drifts to Brian, my neighbour, who bragged at a block party that he only spent $127 during his last Costco visit. He was the talk of the barbecue.
I wait in a snake of a line for my special hot dog.
Membership has its privileges."
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