Leave it to capitalism to make shopping a holiday. I mean, really—we’re almost at that time of year where it’s common sense to just go out and buy all the things, whether you need, or even want, the things, because it’s the end of the year, and supposedly that’s just what we do. In my line of work we call that hegemony: rule with the consent of the ruled. I totally consent to being ruled by capitalism every time I go ahead and get the large popcorn for just 50 cents more or buy a coupon for 50 percent off at the batting cages even though I’ve never even swung a bat, but hey, SALE! Capitalism’s our shared religion in this country, and most of us are steady adherents, even if we know better.
Costco is known for their good employment policies, or at least that's what I've heard. But if I'm being real, I only thought to join when I saw a coupon that gave you, upon joining, 30 rolls of toilet paper, a free apple pie, and a rotisserie chicken—and no, I'm not making that up. I didn't pay for that coupon, going through one of my many I'm-not-falling-for-this-buying-stuff phases, but it was in my head, like a mantra: JOIN JOIN JOIN MEMBERSHIP CARD SALES DEALS JOIN. And since the ladyfriend and I were out in the suburbs anyway, for dance lessons also purchased by coupon, we figured what the heck, let's do this. That's right, we joined Costco on a Saturday afternoon in Columbia—if you've been there on a weekend, you know this is a serious feat.
Our voyage started in the parking lot. That place was packed. The line to get Costco gas—about 20 cents a gallon cheaper than the stuff in my area of Baltimore City—required several safety-vest-clad men to coordinate. We didn't find a spot for our car until the end of the last row, and the ladyfriend's insistence on backing in (don't get me started) led to a few extra turns to squeeze ourselves in among the crowd of minivans and SUVs. We took our long walk to the front, and I kept offering to turn around. We don't have to do this, I said to her, we can just go to Trader Joe's and get a bunch of snacks and call it a day. Nope, we were here, there was no turning back.
This turned out to be easy, because somebody (not me) insisted on going up and down each aisle one at a time. There was a long circle around some fine handmade Polish ceramics that were oddly plopped down between the space heaters and the Fine Cashmere Infinity Scarf section, because it turns out we need a butter dish. $60 was way over anything I intended to pay at Costco, though, so we turned it down and moved on, and I thought to myself, that's the thing, here I am and I still don't want to pay what you'd have to pay to get something that's crafted by a craftperson. Machine-made mass production or bust! Don't think too hard, just move on, just go to the next aisle, hey, we totally need a flashlight—grab that one.