Has anyone been to Costco on a Saturday the end of the month when all the local weathermen are predicting at least ten inches of snow over the next 24 hours? No?
My husband and I are usually diligent in planning ahead so we can get to the store immediately upon opening or on a Monday towards closing. We sort of suspected it would be crowded this trip, so we cautioned each other to stay calm and breathe deeply.
As I enter the store, I am on my third aoummmmmm, releasing the air with a soft, low hum. After flashing our card to the cart monitor on duty, I almost run over two middle aged women who stop mid aisle appreciating the cute little pajama sets that would make a perfect birthday gift for little Elizabeth. Ohhhnnnooo, I whisper as I screech my cart to a halt, deftly avoiding taking one of them out.
Why are we surprised? It was after all lunchtime and everyone knows that Costco serves food samples at multiple stations, strategically placed throughout the store.
No matter, I think. We have a relatively short list and can be in and out of here in ten minutes. “You run and get the chicken and the salmon,” I say, “and I’ll take care of the produce. Ooops, so sorry,” to a Costco-size lady wheeling a cart full of paper products and children who almost runs me down in order to get to the “delicately fried cheese ravioli with just a touch of corn relish” that is being devoured by lumber jacks, Summo wrestlers, Bronco tight ends, cheer leaders with orange pom poms as well as small children darting between the legs of larger adults, running interference for their parents, standing guilty across the aisle, hoping their brave little progeny will not be pinned, tackled, trampled, or pummeled by the hungry hoards waiting in line.
As I finish my list, I am somehow trapped with my back facing one of the food troughs and look into the face of a severely determined woman eyeing ham and biscuit delectables on the stand behind me. I try to catch her eye, but she is looking over my shoulder with her cart three inches from my middle. “Please,” I beg. “Please let me by.” She glares at me, her beady eyes watching the plate behind me slowly being emptied by everyone who is fortunate enough not to have me between them and their food, and slides on past mumbling something that I’m glad I don’t hear.
We breeze through checkout, expertly stacking our goods on the belt, flipping out the Costco card once more and pay our bill. In the parking lot, a car waits for our spot as we stuff the trunk, return the cart to the caddy, click our seatbelts. When we pull out, there are at least seven cars piled up behind him. Honking.
My husband pats my knee as we head for the highway. “You okay?”
"Never again,” I say. He smiles, knowing that once I’ve removed my knee pads and body armor, things will return to normal.
Until next month.