I hate going to Costco. I hate it with a passion. I hate it with the kind of hate usually reserved for jihads, Westboro Baptist funeral protestors, and toddlers under siege from platefuls of overcooked broccoli. I hate it like Kanye West hates everything except Kim Kardashian and the sound of his own voice.
I recognize that I'm in the minority here. My brother-in-law, for example, reveres Costco so much he calls it the Happiest Place On Earth, apparently oblivious to the very real threat of Disney's lawyers drilling a hole in his heart and stuffing it full of lawsuits. He loves Costco so much, he and his family will seek it out whenever they go on vacation. Hawaii, Florida, California, Mogadishu (okay, I may have got that last one wrong) - every destination on the map. I've never really sat down with him and asked WHY he loves it so much - I've always just assumed it had something to do with the fact he's just slightly smaller than Shaquille O'Neal and Costco sells foot-long hotdogs for less than the cost of a pack of gum.
It might also have something to do with the fact he's tall enough to see over the teeming throng of sweaty humanity that I, in all my Tom Cruise-sized glory, get to trudge alongside cheek-by-jowl while I'm there. I've never been to India, but I imagine it's a lot like Costco: a billion people packed into an area the size of your high school gym. Except I'm pretty sure the people in India are actually GOING somewhere, as opposed to wandering around aimlessly, picking over books and golf shirts and hundred-packs of lentil soup, all the while wondering if they shouldn't maybe buy that ridiculously huge garden shed they saw, because it's SUCH a good deal, and you know, it might not be here next week.
I'd also be willing to bet that the people of India don't just park their their cars (or their scooters, or whatever it is they drive over there) at random angles in the street while they go off to see if someone over there has some mangoes on sale. And even if they do, one thing is for certain: they're not wearing sweatpants while they do it.
Before you even get in the store, the place has you in its clutches. There's no parking spaces within a hectare of the door (I have no idea how big a hectare is, but I'm guessing it's a lot) so, unless you camped out the night before, you get to start your wandering before you even get inside. Once you get to the door, they direct you into a pair of chutes, not unlike a feedlot or a slaughterhouse. But look, there's a middle-aged woman in a hair-net offering me a piece of sausage-like substance on a tooth pick (something I'm almost positive doesn't happen in India)! That more than makes up for the fact that I PAID GOOD MONEY JUST FOR THE PRIVILEGE OF WALKING THROUGH THE DAMN DOOR. And apparently, Costco cards are now the equivalent of government ID, since I had to show proof of residence to get one. Are there really a lot of people sneaking in from nations outside the Costco commonwealth, trying to put one over on the company by paying to shop at their stores? Those crafty devils! THIS is how ISIS is going to destroy us, sheeple!
I digress. Eventually, your cart will be filled with pillow-sized bags of kale and thirteen hardcover books you hadn't heard of before you got to Costco, and dozens of other things except the items you originally came for, and FINALLY you can leave. Except you can't, because, no matter what time of day it is, or what day of the week it is, or how many customers there are in the store, the tills will be lined up so deep that the image of the person currently at the cash register will actually exist slightly in the future, because it takes several seconds for the light reflected from the clasp of her wallet to reach your eyes. You'll wait in lines that twist and curve and turn back on themselves like switchbacks, all the while trying to shuffle your cart out of the way of that poor young mom who just needs to get a box of 240 Quaker granola bars to feed the hungry, wailing children hanging off her appendages like remora fish.
Sometime later - I don't know exactly how long, I usually measure it by how many shades darker my beard scruff is than when I came in - you find yourself on the other side of the till. You can actually see the door! Except between you and it is the concession. Sure, the pizza tastes like cardboard covered in tomatoes and lint balls, and the hot dogs are so full of saturated fat that you start breaking out in pimples just from the smell, and besides, you ate a full lunch before you left home - but God, it's just SO CHEAP.
You manage to shake it off and begin your final leg of wandering towards the exit. But wait! The person with the bingo dobber has to inspect your purchases before you can leave. Can someone please explain this to me? How did I manage to shoplift a gallon-jar of cashews? In my pants? And how did I get it out of a store that actively blocks you from leaving unless you're going through a till? But let's say I DID pull it off - would I be stupid enough to put something I stole INTO MY CART for Dobber Dan to see? And all the while, flashing in my head like a neon sign that I can't unplug, are the words: I PAID TO SHOP HERE.
Have I mentioned I hate going to Costco?