The Most Terrifying Place on Earth / by Deborah Clague

Every few weeks or so, I find myself in a disturbing place. A place where all seven sins, in particular gluttony and sloth, are on full display reminding, né threatening, observers, that armageddon will arrive shortly and we should all just fasten our seatbelts and brace for the uncomfortable impact. Everytime I leave this house of hell, I seriously contemplate leaving everything behind for Siberia where I could have a cave dwelling, surviving amongst the cockroaches with Keith Richards. What place hath bespoke my heart's wrath? Costco, of course. 

As a single person living alone with nothing but a 10lb puppy to feed, it makes no sense to shop at Costco. Not only could I never eat such vast quantities of food, but I can't even store all of it. My membership was free though, a result of cashing in Aeroplan points that were too few in number to get anything good, but too high to waste on something like music downloads in an era of torrents. The fact that people kept raving about their pizza just solidified my decision. I would do anything for good pizza. It is my religion. 

The first time I entered the mega-store, it was like being initiated into the Illuminati. Pictures were taken. ID scanned. I was worried that my brief stint as a communist would be unearthed and I would be denied the opportunity to purchase 50lbs of Raisin Bran. With all of the security in terms of keeping the fortress safe from outsiders, I expected there to be some really great deals...but everything was pretty consistent with Wal-Mart and/or Superstore pricing. The only difference being the comically gargantuan shopping carts and the rudeness of fellow customers. Shoppers at Costco will park their carts wherever they please, even if it violates firecodes in several counties. They will launch a death stare should you try to feebly coerce your own cart around them or, heaven forbid, move theirs out of the way. They will shove small children and the elderly out of the way in order to be first in line for free samples of bite-sized quiche. It is truly a glimpse of humans at their most primal. I'm surprised the Discovery Channel hasn't devoted programming to "Costco Week". 

It's strange to feel claustrophobia in a building the size of an airplane hanger, but I often feel this way as I approach check-out. A soundtrack of Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain reaching its crescendo in my head. The end of the journey being so close...yet so far. Surely I don't really have anywhere else to be, but I'd rather be anywhere else but in line behind a guy buying 600 tablets of Immodium. And then the crux of the entire experience: I am asked to show my membership card AGAIN upon leaving. Getting into North Korea is probably easier and more pleasurable than shopping at Costco. 

But enough ranting...back to eating my giant bag of garlic pita bites. No wonder I'm single.