This past weekend while visiting my aunt, I braved the industrially-lit aisles of Costco for the first time in my life. To be fair these aisles are more like caverns, long and ominous; boxes upon boxes of 12-pack variety packs of cereal are stacked three stories high on either side of you while you push a cart the size of a small car. The sheer enormity of everything in the store is absolutely mind boggling – including the patrons. Something I have personally been struggling with lately is my own responsibility to help those who are in need. Sure, I’ll throw a few bucks at Kiva every now and again, but the last time I legitimately volunteered somewhere was over 6 months ago. Being in a gigantic warehouse the size of a city block, surrounded by 20-count cases of chapstick and 5 pound boxes of candy bars only heightened my awareness of how much more financially stable some people are than others. Who in the world could possibly need 125 Granola Bars? Maybe a small grade school, but not a family of 5. My head was spinning thinking of what a great episode of Hoarders could be made on your average Costco shopper when I saw a simple container of cinnamon.
The cinnamon container was large, but not intimidatingly so – maybe 16 ounces? For your reference, a typical quantity you would find at a grocery store is anywhere from 2-4 ounces. Between seasoning my oatmeal, protein shakes, the occasional pie, and dusting the top of my coffee grinds, I go back to the store and buy new cinnamon every three to four weeks, and for roughly the same price as this 16oz container. So, for me this was the ideal quantity at a cheap price/ounce. The cinnamon was my gateway buy. Curious as to what else I might find in the baking aisle, I started to wander, picking up what my scrappy little arms could carry. By the time my aunt called me from the check-out, I had found a 5lb bag of quinoa, two jumbo sea salt and pepper grinders, 20 ounces of paprika, and had just stopped in front of the most awe-inspiring 25lb bag of flour. I ultimately decided the flour would be a mistake, as it would force me to abandon my other finds and likely result in a ten pound weight gain over the next month from all the cookies it would produce. On my way towards the front of the store, I passed a display for Calvin Klein underwear and got more excited than I probably should have. Eager to buy a few packs of my favorite brand at a bargain price, I quickly became disappointed when I saw that not only did they only carry sizes medium through double XL, but there was only one pack of medium per display case. There was no way my dainty hips could even pretend to hold those underwear up. Pausing, I looked down at the bulk culinary supplies in my arms, then around at the mob of people pushing carts laden with gallon jugs of syrup and 10lb bags of hashbrowns and realized I had almost succumbed to the self-fulfilling cycle Costco had so gluttonously created.