A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Costco

Well, it wasn’t really funny and it really wasn’t on the way to Costco. It was a rather disturbing thing and it was at Costco.

After listening to all the runs on toilet paper and alcohol wipes, plus thinking we may at some point be cocooned at home because of the Coronavirus, I thought it might be good to go to Costco today. I went after getting off of work Friday afternoon.

The drive there was nothing special, nor was pulling into the parking lot, although it did seem very crowded for the time of day. When I entered the store is when it got a little weird.

First, there were almost no carts left. Second, as I walked into the warehouse after flashing my card, I’m greeted with a woman with box of sanitizing wipes. The last time I was there a couple of weeks ago, a woman was wiping down carts as people entered.

This time a different woman was handing out a single wipe for each customer—a customer equals whomever comes in together as a unit, meaning could be one person or five people, still equals one customer. She instructed people to wipe hands first, then the cart. It was nice to have them, but I was thinking that must be where all the Clorox wipes have gone and why they don’t have any in stock.

As I walked around the store, it was abnormally quiet. People weren’t really talking to one another, and those who were, were talking in hushed tones. It felt too as if no one wanted to get too close to anyone they who hadn’t come with them.

Next was the low supplies of food items. I’ve been going to Costco for years and never seen them down to just a few jars or boxes of so many food items. Even the ready-made meals were in short supply.

As I walked toward where the paper products are kept, there was nothing in that aisle. No toilet paper, no paper towels, no napkins, no nothing. Nada. Zilch. The news stories hadn’t exaggerated. They were also clean out of anything resembling a Clorox wipe.

It was sad to hear older people asking about toilet paper, was there possibly a stack in the back, only to be told no by some young clerk. A clerk with a smile on his face that was a cross between being friendly and one of where have you people been, haven’t you heard no one has toilet paper anymore? I felt badly for the older folks, as a meme came to mind showing a much older woman at the store looking for toilet paper or sanitizer stating something to the effect of the younger set rushes to get and hoard things before those who are older and slower, and who may need an item more, can’t get any (I was also reminded of a tweet about an older couple who didn’t want to go into the store so they waited a long time until they felt they could trust someone to give their money to in order for that person to shop for them and keep from exposing themselves to the Coronavirus.

As I walked around, it didn’t really get any better. It was quite surreal. Costco even had signs up on certain items limiting the quantity one could buy. Other things were completely sold out, such as rice and bread.

When I was checking out, after waiting in line for quite a while due to the crowds, I did some small talk with the cashier. I asked if it had been like this all day, which she replied yes, it had been like this for several days. She also said people were being much more rude and impatient the past few days as well.

For safety, she and many others were wearing gloves as they worked. As another employee walked by and commented on the fact my cashier was wearing a sweat shirt, her reply caught me off guard for some reason. She told her coworker she was wearing it because it had long sleeves, she didn’t want anyone touching her arms. I thought about how it must be quite scary dealing with strangers all day, not knowing if they were sick or not, if you were going to get sick and not only not be able to work, but to then infect your family. At that moment, I realized how much stress she and other workers were under and yet she was still courteous and kept her calm with ill-mannered customers.

Because of my experience today, please, as you shop, remember to be courteous, don’t hoard, and help an older person (or really any person), if they need it. We all need to remember we are all human and worried about the future right now more so than usual.

What shopping story do you have amidst these Coronavirus unknowns?

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