Costco Can't Save you from the Coronavirus

Costco is the store that I hate to love, and love to hate. Just pulling into the oversized, overcrowded parking lot makes my blood pressure rise. I’ve stopped going on the weekends altogether because my ability to suffer through the crowds of people who park their carts in the middle of an aisle and walk away, leaving lines of carts behind them vying for space to pass, has significantly dissipated in recent years. Typically, Costco on a Tuesday, mid-morning, doesn’t send my anxiety levels into an out of control tailspin, so that is when I try to do my bulk-item shopping. Fortunately, because I am self-employed part-time, I can usually get to Costco on a Tuesday in the middle of the morning.

In recent days, the news outlets have all done stories ad nauseam covering the rush on products like hand sanitizer, soap, and toilet paper due to the outbreak of coronavirus, but somehow, in my mind, that didn’t translate into, “Costco is going to be a disaster on Tuesday, mid-morning.” So, Baby ASM and I hopped in the car yesterday morning at 9:45 and made our way on over.

Like most Costco stores I’ve ever been to, our local store opens at 10:00 AM during the week. When I pulled into the parking lot at 10:05, there were still open parking spaces, but the parking lot was definitely more crowded than it typically would be on a Tuesday at 10:05 in the morning. This was my first warning sign.

Baby ASM and I grabbed a cart, flashed our membership card, and headed into the store. I always cut up the back aisle, past the televisions, vision counter, and all the aisles with a random mix of office products, kitchen gadgets, and furniture. This back aisle tends to be quieter than the main one and drops me right into the bakery on the other end of the store. As I made my way up my secret back aisle, and past a dining table with seating for 6 (for under $600!), I was blocked by not one, but two abandoned carts. This was my second warning sign.

I finally made it to the back of the store where I would be able to grab most of the items on my list. I turned the corner from the back aisle into the bakery, and warning sign number three started to open my eyes to just how bad this trip was about to become; there were only six, yes six, containers of those delicious Costco chocolate chip cookies. Apparently, if you are going to have to live under quarantine for an extended time, chocolate chip cookies are a must-have item.

I grabbed a package of cookies leaving just 5 packages behind and made my way toward the essentials aisle. The essentials aisle, for those of you who don’t know, is what I call the aisle that houses the paper towels, toilet paper, water, and diapers. Normally I love that four of my most purchased items are grouped in one convenient place, but on this day, it was more of a nightmare than a love affair. The chaos that I stumbled upon as I neared this essentials aisle was terrifying. People were acting as if the world were actually coming to an end, and in their last days, they were going to need 12 rolls of make-your-own size paper towels.

There were employees, customers, carts, and products everywhere. All in complete disarray. Pallets of toilet paper had been brought most of the way to the display area, leaving a pathway large enough to fit just one cart at a time through. This space was, of course, next to the water bottles, so as everyone stopped to grab their cases of water, they had to leave their carts in the narrow space, causing a massive backup of carts and disgruntled customers.

Plastered all over the display cases in the essentials aisle were signs limiting the number of each product you could purchase to just two per membership per day. Meaning you can only buy two cases of water, two cases of toilet paper, and so on. Limiting a household to 60 jumbo rolls of Charmin Ultra Soft per day seems pretty reasonable to me. The swearing I heard coming from other customers directed toward this limitation, however, told me that other people feel differently.

So here I am in this overcrowded, narrowed aisle of anger when a man passes by and I hear a child’s cough. This was not just a little cough like I have something caught in my throat. This was an, I’m definitely on the verge of death, and probably have coronavirus cough. This child was so sick he could not even sit up in the child holder. In fact, he could not sit up at all. I’m not even kidding you; this child was laying in the cart portion of the cart. Now, I’m not claiming to be mom of the year, but I’d like to think that if Baby ASM was that sick, I would not drag her to Costco for some oversized cases of water. Especially when the world is terrified of catching coronavirus which is spread through the air when people cough.

I grabbed one box of diapers, one package of toilet paper, one package of paper towels, and two cases of water, and beelined for the coffee section. I scooped up my coffee, some frozen pizza, a pack of toothpaste and checked out. Normally the checkout process at Costco causes me the most anxiety of my whole trip. The lines are usually unbearably long, the staff is usually unbearably unfriendly, and the people in front of me are usually unbearably annoying. Surprisingly, this went smoothly.

On my way to the car, I noticed that there was not a single parking spot left in the area I parked in. After loading the car, strapping in the baby, and buckling in, I threw the car in reverse and as I was pulling out, I had three cars all waiting for my spot.

If you need essentials like water, diapers, paper towels, and toilet paper, but don’t want to suffer through a trip to Costco. Below are some options where you can get these products shipped right to your door, without the stress, anxiety, or germs.

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