Costcornucopia

I went to Costco today. This was my second trip. The first one was with my mommy and daddy, because I was too scared to go alone.

There are a number of reasons that place freaks me out, first and foremost being the way everyone looks like they are shopping for the apocalypse. Who needs that much toilet paper? Why does he have so much bottled water? What do they know that I don’t?

It also entails one of my biggest domestic dislikes: grocery shopping. Dear Lord how I hate grocery shopping.

It stresses me out. I accidentally buy the wrong thing. I buy too much or too little of something. And most frustrating these days, I just plain overspend.

Last year at my job I managed a $2 million client budget.

Today I stood staring at a 3 lb bag of tortilla chips for 5 minutes trying to figure out if it was more or less expensive than my regular brand. Just staring.

It’s like something in the grocery air clouds my judgment and I either mentally shut down, or I make illogical purchases.

You would think that buying in bulk could alleviate some of the pressure. Hone in on an item you know you will use, buy a ton, and lessen the need to shop so often.

But I ventured into bulk purchasing once before and it didn’t end well.

Several years ago I tried to help my husband, who then did all the cooking, and bought a box of 12 marinated chicken breasts from a door-to-door salesman.

That’s right. I bought chicken from a stranger who knocked on my front door. Cock-a-doodle-doo!

At the time I thought it was brilliant. That’s 6 meals! I just did us a favor – no need for the grocery store this week!

I still remember the look on my husband’s face when he came home and saw it in the freezer. He was so confused. I won’t open the door for an angel-faced Girl Scout, but I bought chicken from a middle-aged man carting it around in the back of a truck?

Of course it tasted terrible and I threw out the 10 uneaten breasts within a few months.

So this morning as I was bracing myself for my pilgrimage to crazytown, I paused for a Twitter check and saw that Outlaw Mama had just been to Costco. I told her I had the sweats in anticipation of my trek, and she confirmed my worst fear by saying, “it’s barbaric in there.”

My sweating intensified. I postponed my mission so I could triple check my shopping list.

When I finally entered the parking lot a few hours later, I had a clear strategy – stay focused and only buy what I came for – paper towels, toilet paper, diapers. I need these items. I have heard that Costco paper products = savings. Anything else can be purchased another time. You can do this.

Five steps in the door I was bombarded with sight of huge TVs next to huge bottles of booze next to huge boxes of baby wipes.

Well, I can always use more wipes… No – stay focused.

Two minutes later I was picking out a package of socks for my daughter.

This is not what you’re here for. But she needs socks! Fine, just this once.

And this is how it went for the next 45 minutes. My cart constantly stopping as I’d pass something shiny and consider purchasing it, while the voice in my head reminded me to move along. All the internal chatter started to drive me nuts after a while.

When I finally got to the cash register it only took him a minute to ring me up. Great! My load isn’t that bad!

“That’ll be $165.”

Exsqueeze me? How the F did I just spend $165? Therein lies the rub with Costco – since you are buying huge bins and tins, it takes them a millisecond to scan your items. Unlike the grocery store, where you at least have the luxury of flipping through US Weekly, Costco takes your cash and kicks your overflowing cart to the curb.

I walked out feeling financially defeated, but grateful to be done.

Then I got back to my car and realized I had two strollers and a bike in the back, leaving no room for the enormity of my haul. Thank the stars I only had the baby, because I had to cram the paper towel and toilet paper in my other daughter’s car seat.

Sorry, honey – Mommy needs to leave you at layaway so I can take home these paper towels.

I finally started to unclench on the drive home, and realized I was ravenous. At a stoplight I tried to quickly open my 3 lb bin of peanut butter pretzels – what? shut up – but couldn’t pull off the paper cover.

Hurry hurry! The light’s going to change!

I grabbed a pen and stabbed it repeatedly into the top. STAB STAB STAB. I looked over and saw the driver of a bus in the lane next to me, watching.

Faster faster!

STAB STAB STAB.

The force of my battering hand dislodged the ink cartridge and left the pen stuck hanging there, useless. I made a fist and punched my way into that bin, squeezing my fingers in until I could grab a few pretzels and shove them into my salivating mouth.

The victim

Talk about barbaric. I think I need a few weeks before I try that again.

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