A Lutheran Says What?

Sermons and random thoughts on God, the world and the intersection of the two

My problem with Costco November 9, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — bweier001 @ 1:33 am
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Now before I start getting hate mail, let me clarify-I love Costco. I love that they have ethical employee policies, that their CEO is content with a “normal” wage (still more than most people will ever see but it’s not excessive), that now I can get gluten free items, and that their self-brand is named for the town I was born in (Kirkland, WA). But here is the problem that Costco triggers for me-a case of the “what ifs.” Let me explain.
The first time I went into any sort of warehouse store was in Portland, OR in 2000. We had just moved to Oregon and one of the “benefits” of my husband’s new IT job was a membership to Costco. Many people had told me how amazing and awesome Costco was so I thought I would give it a go. I loaded up my two babies (3 and 1) and off we went. The first thing I loved as a young mom was a cart with double child seats. Marvelous! So I started my trek. Carter’s brand clothing for the children at a discount price-yay! Diapers and wipes cheap-double yay! But then it happened…I went down the paper products aisle. I froze and simply stared at the shoulder high stacks of paper towels, napkins and-oh be still my beating heart-toilet paper. Yes, an odd reaction to toilet paper I am aware. But again, hang in and let me further explain.
I am an Air Force brat. My dad served 26 years as an officer and we moved frequently. One of those moves was to the island of Guam, where we lived for two years. Guam as a kid was awesome: out of school everyday by 1 p.m., hanging out on a beach about 4 days a week, roller skating in shorts on Christmas Day, trees to climb, bats to annoy, palm fronds to learn to weave, plumeria flowers to make into leis and a myriad of other activities unique to living on an island. But there were some quirks about being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Such as no department stores, not many restaurants and your grocery items arriving by boat or plane on a schedule. What that meant is that you were only allowed a certain amount of food and other products such as…yes, toilet paper. Basically, we were rationed. My mother figured out exactly how much we could eat each day (don’t get too concerned-we never starved and I was largely unaware of food rations, until we didn’t follow my mom’s plan and we ran out of something), how much soap, cleaning supplies to use and how many squares of toilet paper you could use at a time.
Now, often things were fine that this was not really a true hardship-just a reality. But my sister and I would get frequent reminders of when the next toilet paper shipment would come and so don’t use more than you need! Occasionally, a storm or some military issue would delay the arrival of grocery items and the rationing became “what if we don’t get supplies until next week.” When this happened sometimes the toilet paper issue would hit what my dad referred to as “critical mass.” Rations would get smaller and you hoped you didn’t get sick (that was a frequent problem for many on the island). Yikes!
Fast forward to my paralyzed amazement in the toilet paper aisle at Costco. Now I had seen large packages of toilet paper before and my husband is generally tolerant of my residual need to always have a stash of toilet paper, but this…this glorious place where toilet paper was plentiful and I could be nearly guaranteed of never needing to ration. I bought two cases.
Now, I am not a hoarder, so don’t think if you come to my house that my basement is a toilet paper warehouse (it is not) but there is this strong sense of security knowing that if something happened and I suddenly could not have access to a store, that I have a stockpile of toilet paper.
Today was my monthly trip to Costco-those two babies in the cart that first trip are now very hungry teenagers and so diapers and wipes have given way to pizzas, meat, bread, and other carbs of all kinds. Now I am sure you are curious-did I or didn’t I? You will be shocked to know that I am capable of growth and I convinced myself that I have plenty of toilet paper. For today. Costco opens at 10 a.m. tomorrow.