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).

You should follow Thought Catalog on Twitter here.

image – K. Kendall