Miracle on 34th Street, the Costco Version

“Why? Why would you do that?” my husband asked me, looking at me like I had just escaped the asylum and was planning to sell all our possessions, move into a circus tent, and eat my own shoe. The shocking thing I was planning to do, in fact, was to go to Costco on December 19, the Tuesday before Christmas.

Truthfully, I wondered a bit at myself, but there were a few things I wanted to get and I was in that awkward spot of either a) going now, b) waiting until after Boxing Day and before New Year’s, or c) waiting until January. I couldn’t see how any of the above would be different from one another so I blocked off the whole afternoon and steeled myself for the job. I taught my usual morning class and then headed over there right away, thinking in my mind if I get there at 11:30, I’ll probably be done by 1:00, and then home by 1:30…it’s going to be okay, Nicole, it’s going to be okay. I thought if the lineups were crazy then I could practice my mindfulness, wherever I go, here I am, I repeated to myself as I drove into the parking lot.

I parked far from the doors and noticed that there were several spots to choose from. I chose the one near an abandoned cart, the sight of which usually fills me with impotent rage but I kept breathing and thinking zen thoughts. I took the abandoned cart myself, hauling it over the median and thinking of the cart like I would an abandoned dog, who needs love and attention. The parking lot was a little Frogger-like but I made it into the store without being flattened like Grandma Who Got Run Over By A Reindeer – albeit barely.

Inside the store was a pleasant surprise; I don’t know where all the people in the parking lot were, but they were not in the produce section or the shampoo aisle, nor choosing olives or almond butter. Sure, there were the requisite crowds around the sample tables, but all in all, the store seemed quiet. I walked around smiling at everyone like a friendly lunatic, hoping to shine a light that my resting bitch face does not emit, and, delightfully, people smiled back at me.

Finally, it was the moment of truth. I took a deep breath and headed for the checkouts…and there was no lineup whatsoever. People, six days before Christmas and I was in and out of Costco with a full cart in less than thirty minutes. It is a Christmas miracle! I thought happily. My entire afternoon was empty and available for chocolate bark-making.

My friend Alice (HI ALICE) swears by shopping cart karma, and I am a believer. If you rescue an abandoned cart, or you tidy up the cart corral, good things will happen to you while shopping. IT’S TRUE, PEOPLE, JUST TRY IT.

I did witness something distressing, something I hadn’t seen before so close up. I walked past a car that was backing out of its spot, very near the door. There was another car waiting with its signal light on, and behind it several cars stopped for this. As the car backed up, another car came from a different direction and very quickly – and not exactly safely, since it was icy and slippery – zoomed into the spot. It was, I will tell you, shocking. More than that, the woman in the passenger seat was looking at the patiently-waiting-signal-light-on car who was angrily honking the horn, and she was LAUGHING. Laughing, people. I shared a raised-eyebrow moment with a fellow pushing his cart and I wondered what would happen next. I didn’t wait to see the carnage though, but you can bet that Good Shopping Karma was not awaiting that woman.


  1. We went on Monday and it was busy as all get out… a little patience goes a long way 🙂

  2. Whenever I see someone poaching a parking spot my mind goes instantly to the Tawanda scene in Fried Green Tomatoes.

  3. The shopping gods are smiling on you, Nicole.

  4. bibliomama2 says:

    I basically think of you as walking Good Karma, so the fact that this happened to you seems pretty much right. But that woman? What a bitch. She probably abandoned her shopping cart in a parking spot too. She’s a walking bad-karma target.

  5. NICOLE. I have Cart Karma to report. Today I was walking along one row of cars on my way into the store, and across the car-aisle I saw a cart that was blocking a close-to-the-store spot, so I crossed the aisle to get it. IMMEDIATELY AS I DIVERTED MY PATH, a car backed out abruptly into the air that would otherwise have held a corporeal representation of Swistle but now held only the breeze of my previous forward motion.

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