The parking lot should have been the omen to avoid entering Costco today. There were vehicles blocking every “corridor” of the parking lot. Some were stacked up like planes over LaGuardia on a stormy day. There was one incident of parking space rage that I witnessed. Two drivers that hadn’t seen each other waiting were vying for the same spot. I went to the far reaches of the lot and was fortunate to notice a car leaving. I hiked the distance to the front door and passed row upon row of what looked like prairie schooners in a wagon train, but were actually carts stuffed way past capacity with crap. One woman was struggling with two carts brimming over. She was pulling one and pushing the other. It was drizzling. No one was smiling.

I had decided to go “off hours” to avoid this very scenario. I have to make a very large spinach salad for a big family party tomorrow, so I figured Costco might have spinach in a hefty package to suit my needs. I had a list of things in my head that I was asked to pick up. Toilet paper, chocolate chips for baking, small individual packs of dark Swiss chocolate (sold by the thousand) and some smoked cheddar cheese which I like. I also scored a huge box of a cereal I recently discovered called Bran Buds.

Navigating inside the store was like traversing a mine field (without the fatal explosions) or a four lane highway where at any given moment a semi-trailer might stop in the middle. Sometimes at a 45 degree angle blocking several lanes. The abrupt u-turners and impatient passers and the waddling oglers and the deserted full carts in mid-aisle made this quest for spinach irritating, butmore interesting.

When I got to the north pole (huge refrigerated room filled with perishables) there were dozens of pallets of all sorts of produce. One empty pallet where the spinach should have been. Wtf? Is Friday the day they have a run on spinach? Popeye’s birthday? What?!?!

My mood darkened.

I slalomed my way back to the front of the store which I swear is in a different postal code than the rear and parked in a promising looking line. By promising, I mean 8 single carts and no prairie schooners. In the next line over was a woman whose cart had so much crap on it that it defied the laws of physics and gravity. On the top of this mobile dung heap was a box containing a “guitar”. Need I say that Costco is not a place where you should buy a guitar. It is not a “deal”. It depressed me. Some kid who perhaps has an interest in music will have it killed by a shitty instrument that won’t tune and sounds like rubber bands stretched over a Corn Flakes box. It will sit under a bed until some future garage sale where it will be sold to some other loser.

The same woman was actually bragging to the woman behind her that “This is nothing! I will have to come back twice this afternoon”. I needed a barf bag quick, but the trek to aisle X128 would have taken hours, and I only needed one. I looked at my meagre cart with 7 items and still cost $91.00 and looked back at hers and figured it was four times as much. From what I could make out it looked like crap dressed up in flashy boxes and overpriced.

The rampant consumerism and excess and waste at this time of the year depresses me and flies in the face of love and charity and peace on earth.

Maybe I was more irritated because of a “garment malfunction” in the middle of this “splurge fest”. I come from a long line of people who don’t throw out their underwear. Some of us Hanchets are really cheap in this regard. The last pair of underwear I inherited from my dad 16 years ago (yes, I wore a dead guy’s underwear) is now disposed of. It was way past “threadbare”. It was way past opaque. It was way past functional. That pair could not even hold a fart. There was practically no material left. Took 16 years to throw them out, and I am one of the best in this department. My older brother actually has a pair of the world’s ugliest briefs in a picture frame. His wife found them at the back of his drawer (pun intended) and laughed so hard when he said he still wore them when all the rest were in the laundry. She framed them to shame him. There was talk about what if you had to go to the hospital wearing those,etc.

I still keep two pair of underwear that have weakened elastics. I keep meaning to throw them out, but “you never know when they might be needed”. They look ok, they feel ok, but half-way through the day the start to slip. Every time I put them on, I fool myself into thinking that “these aren’t the ones” and that somehow “today will be different.”

As I was standing there in line I felt them slipping down almost like a screen in the movie theatre descending. There is no discreet way to hoist them back up again in a huge store brimming with consumers. I longed to reach in and pull them up. I felt like a hot-crossed bun with that elastic forming a perfect cross across my butt. Very uncomfortable. As I trekked back to the car, they slipped even farther until they settled at the top of the inside of my pants legs. At the car, with my hands finally free and no-one looking, I managed to retrieve them and get on with things. I vowed to not put them in the laundry, but to chuck them and buy several packs this week-end. Maybe when I go out to buy spinach.

2 thoughts on “The Box Store

  1. OMG Ian this is hilarious. I was laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes.
    You have incredible literary talent dear friend. Like I said before….another Stuart McLean!!!! Or stand up comedian or author to be included with all your musical talent.

    May I please share?


    1. Share away. Thank you. I like Stuart McLean. I like to write, but I might not if it was a job….I was asked to do stand-up once by someone who thought I was funny. Never again. For that 5. Minutes or five hours depending on who you ask, I was the least funny person in the known universe.


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