Mercury in retrograde plus Costco equals misery

If you have been feeling like things are a drag, if you’ve been feeling tired or if it seems like your plans have been constantly foiled by external factors, I have some great news for you: Mercury is in retrograde! And it ends tomorrow! All will be well soon, my friends, or as well as it can be, I suppose.

To tell the truth, I haven’t really noticed; all has been fine around here. The only thing is that last night I slept really well – I fell asleep just after nine and slept solidly until 4:10. Normally I wake up a few times in the night; often I wake up at 3 and then just doze off and on after that until I get up for the day at 4:30. I never think this affects me, other than I seem to be in a semi-coma by evening. But waking up today I felt so incredibly refreshed, so able to take on anything, that I am a little alarmed by my regular, everyday feeling.

I decided to read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, being that I am 42 and all, and I will tell you right now that I loathed it. I didn’t even finish it, and I normally soldier my way through most things. Last night, I read another ridiculous chapter and then decided that life is too short and time is too precious, and quit. Maybe that’s why I slept so well; who knows?

I am no busier than anyone else, but this week my schedule is a bit strange; filled up with a lot of one-offs. However, I really needed to go to Costco for some specific, much-consumed items that I can only get there. Side note: all my free time these days seems to be consumed by grocery shopping and laundry, the two Sisyphean tasks in my life. Anyway, this afternoon I had a small window, and though I try to avoid Costco in the afternoon, I ventured forth. Winding through the parking lot, gazing at all the carts strewn everywhere but the cart corrals, I started to regret my choices. I did manage to park, grab an orphaned cart, and shop.

People. I forgot that one of the reasons I don’t shop in the afternoon is because Costco has the sample tables out by then. I tried to deep breathe and think of it as a lesson in patience, but it is very irritating to not be able to maneuver through the aisles because of all the lineups at the sample tables. I mean, by all means, line up for ten minutes to get your free cracker, but we are not all so eager to try the new sweet potato flavour, so please let me pass. I promise I am not going to cut in line.

Not everyone dawdled however; one woman zoomed by a sample table, grabbing a tiny paper cup and sauntering off. The sample lady must have been having a DAY – and who can blame her? – because she started speaking in a very loud, passive-aggressive voice, about what exactly was in the cup. IT IS BLACK BEAN SAUCE SERVED ON BASMATI RICE AND THE SAUCE IS $3.97 A BOTTLE AND YOU CAN PICK ONE UP AT MY TABLE OR IN AISLE 103. AISLE 103!

She said this in the direction of the woman who was seemingly obliviously munching on her black bean sauce and basmati rice, and me, because I was right behind her. I smiled at the lady, nodding; although I did not have a sample it was good information to have. The black bean sauce did look good and maybe the sample people are required to give their pitch, regardless of whether the samplers stay to listen. She stared at me with daggers in her eyes. Perhaps I should have taken a sample, but at that point it seemed weird.

I do get it. The worst job I ever held was that of Beer Sample Girl, which, as you can well imagine, has its own trials. One of them was not the sales pitch because giving out beer samples means that you will have many, many people conversing with you about many things, including the beer sample itself. But I do get it.

Also: Mercury is in retrograde! Shopping at Costco is a bit seventh-circle-of-hell-like at the best of times, especially for those of us who don’t love crowds or the possibility of being crushed to death by towering items. This is not overly an exaggeration; longtime readers will remember the time I narrowly missed being crushed to death by tampon boxes at Costco. 

Okay, that was also an exaggeration. But! Moving on! Mercury in retrograde and harried Costco shoppers can take their toll on the most pleasant of souls. The cashier who checked my items through had a look on her face that exactly matched what most people probably felt like, a “Lord, deliver me from this hellhole and all the idiots inside it” kind of look.

The one exception was the girl who packed my cart. She said in a very, very enthusiastic and excited way, “Thank you SO MUCH for bringing your own bins today!” I was a bit startled by this outpouring of enthusiasm but was incredibly appreciative of her positive attitude and, frankly, amazing cart-packing skills. I mean, this was a thing of beauty. I commented on her mad skills and she shrugged cheerfully. “It’s just my job!”

Well done, Costco girl. And hold on for one more day, because things are going to change, they’re going to go your way. If you just hold on for one more day.


  1. I wonder if 42 is the wrong age to read that book for the first time. I re-read the series with Noah two or three years ago and we both enjoyed it but for me a lot of it was nostalgia.

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