Last week I experienced what can only be described as Costco Karma, which is weird because I’m not a big believer in Karma and you don’t normally consider a whole sale warehouse to be the dispenser of cosmic justice.
Until that fateful shopping trip, I was uncertain Karma even existed. Sure, when some wretched bastard finally comes upon their demise it is a delicious moment that makes you say Aha, Karma! There you are, you sweet son of a bitch. The truth is in your euphoria you are temporarily blind to all the other times the good guy finished last and the bad guy triumphed.
Costco has the same unreliable quality. You can get a bona fide deal on anything from hearing aids to fish sticks. The problem, of course, is that everything is sold in an SLU (shit load unit). Right now, in my medicine cabinet I have a drum of ibuprofen from 2003. I guess I’m hoping Karma and Advil will cure me of my headache. And to this day my children recoil in horror at the mere suggestion of eating cheddar bunnies after a 40 count box terrorized their lunchboxes for the length of a Biblical probation.
And to be honest, I’m not sure Costco believes in cosmic justice either because before you leave you have to present your receipt to a team member who mixes friendly chit chat with cynicism and suspicion while inspecting your cart and deciding whether or not to release you with an authoritative stroke of a hot pink highlighter.
Despite this high tech security measure, I have shoplifted, more than once from the store. Let’s be clear. Both times were by accident, both times lacked criminal intent, and both times involved an SLU of recyclable water bottles. The first time I stole a magazine. I didn’t realize what I had done until I got out to the car and hoisted the heavy slab of water bottles into my trunk. There at the bottom of the cart was a glossy cupcake magazine. Now here’s where it is my fault, and Karma can start assembling an arsenal. I didn’t go back in, show them my membership card, march over to customer service, and hand over the jack. In my defense it was a blustery winter day in North Eastern Wisconsin so I said, “Fuck it! It is just too damned cold out here. I am not walking another step.”
Today was a little trickier. You see, both Costco and I were in the wrong. Just as before, I hoisted the SLU of water bottles up and into my trunk, and lo and behold a set of children’s thermal underwear was unintentionally secreted beneath the heavy and unwieldy package. I took a moment to contemplate my expanding shoplifting portfolio that now included apparel. My child will be warm but also an accessory to petty theft.
This time, I cannot say the weather was a contributing factor in my moral failure. It was mild day and the cold air had yet to fully develop its sadistic personality traits that turns normal people into hibernating hermits. This was a conscious decision to steal children’s underwear. I drove away.
When I got home, and parked in the safety of my garage, I opened my trunk and the gallon of milk I had legitimately purchased had leaked all over. A slit in the top from a box cutter was the hidden culprit. Costco had sold me a defective milk. Everything was coated with a filmy white including the black spongy carpeting that is the staple fabric of my budget vehicle. Being the mother of two children I am acutely aware of the aftermath of spilled milk. And I can tell you now that spilled milk in your car is something to cry about. I was about to be trapped with a rotting stench not unlike my moral failure.
Karma claimed its victory, spiked the football with tiny pools of milk, and trapped me inside my only means of escape. I had plenty of time to think about my sins while I waited as my car was detailed.