Why Sunday Mornings At Costco Belong In Dante’s Inferno

Hell, according to Dante Alighieri, is comprised of nine circles of suffering within the Earth. But Dante missed a circle. Somewhere between gluttony and greed, or between greed and anger, or maybe even encompassing the entire nine circles is the Costco-on-Sunday-morning circle.

Costco on Sundays is the poor man’s theme park, with tired employees handing out samples of everything from cheesecake and hummus to hot dogs and grape juice. Maybe the employees get a bonus for the number of their items sold in a given day.  And if these employees don’t hit their quotas, then it’s likely their next shift will take place in the freezer of perishables (limbo).

Save $3 on this eco-friendly detergent, one employee said to me, and I said that since I buy my detergent at Costco anyway, I’ve enough to last me until my daughter, who turns one in December, turns three.

Nothing wrong with stocking up, she said (heresy). And then she motioned for me to come closer, and I came closer, and she whispered: You never know when the zombies will attack.

OK, so she didn’t say anything about zombies, but she pled her case to my son, who looked at me and told me that he had to poop.

Children run through the aisles of Costco, let loose by parents looking for cartons of eggs and tree houses and bargain books. Fleece jackets and televisions near the front of the store next to aisles of candy and chips next to bars and pills that will keep you regular. If grocery stores are theme parks, then Costco is Disney World, and I’ve never much cared for Disney World.

Costco is smart. Appealing, the number of lanes available for those of us willing to check ourselves out (I suppose Costco’s supply of mirrors gives us another such opportunity), but how many times can you swipe your mesh bag of avocados across the scanner and not have the right price come up (fraud), meaning you need help anyway, before you risk standing in a line where a fast-fun-friendly cashier is ready to help you.

After she helps the 13 people in front of you (treachery).

Costco is seductive, with its low price points (greed) and its in-bulk offerings. The problem with in-bulk buying? You end up in-bulk eating. A tub (and no other word will do) of organic vanilla cookies shaped like characters from Winnie the Pooh should last for at least two weeks in a house where normal people eat. But in my house, with only two of us eating these cookies (and my son doesn’t eat that many of these organic vanilla cookies shaped like characters from Winnie the Pooh) a tub of these cookies lasts three, maybe four days (gluttony).

Go early when the regular crowd is in church, a woman on Twitter tells me when I suggest that Costco on Sunday is a missing level inside Dante’s version of Hell. And if I could go early to Costco on Sunday, I would go early to Costco on Sunday, but having two children means that there is no early during which to go to Costco.

Early is spent at swim lessons and play dates and, for my daughter, Aurora, who turns one in December, asleep, since she wakes up, eats, and goes back to sleep – which seems like a swell way to spend Sunday. My son, Avery, who is four, wakes up, asks for the iPad, and then tells me he is hungry, a pint-sized Alex Trebek giving me the answer and leaving me to riddle out the question: Do you want waffles? Or eggs? Or waffles with eggs? Or cereal, you know, the kind with the marshmallows, but only if you don’t tell your mother that I’m giving you cereal, the kind with the marshmallows? (anger.)

A plus to Costco are the carts with their child seats built for two, as if Costco expects its shoppers to not only shop in bulk but reproduce in bulk. Count the number of families with two or more children in tow and you might agree (lust).

And the line to get out of the store, where your items are checked against a receipt, when your children are tired and wanting to eat and go home and finish pooping, don’t even get me started (violence). TC mark

image – K. Kendall

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

    this used to be my usual sunday routine. thank god that’s over

  • http://twitter.com/sodelightful rachel

    this article might be a bit too suburbia for this space… however i totally relate. when i am feeling particularly masochistic (and family oriented, miss u moms) i drove out of the city and inflict this personal hell on myself. lucky for me my buddy @el_plato:twitter is a box hunter there and we get to hang out =)

    • Alcoholic Pocahontas

      LOL I’m rachel I’m so self-righteous and urban

  • http://twitter.com/meghan_ash Meghan Frick

    I enjoyed this article quite a bit, but I have to say that my biggest takeaway was how cute I think the names Avery and Aurora are, especially together. 

  • jam jam

    you are an awesome writer! i especially loved your previous pieces on the disparity of your love life and how it affected your life and the lives of those around you. forever a true fan of yours ~

  • http://twitter.com/Melissa_Messer Melissa Messer

    I love Costco, but what I really love is Costco on Sundays. Your Twitter informant was right. Going with the rest of the heathens before the churchgoers get there makes it waaay more fun.

  • RAH!

    Man I love Costco, but this is so funny and true. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/allyson.sagin Allyson Sagin

    OH GAWD I have the enormotub of organanillapooh cookies right now.  can’t stop won’t stop. they aren’t even that good!

  • the cheesemakers

    tillamook cheese factory!

  • Meera Shah

    LONG LIVE COSTCO! 

  • Waicool

    ha ha, enjoyed this

  • guest

    hahaha, I was just at Costco on a Sunday for the first time in a while. People are crazy, but the samples make it worth it.

  • g.

    I don’t know why, but the “reproduce in bulk” line made me crack up for longer than I should have…

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