Big Box Store Blues


Last weekend I attempted to shop at a local Costco store.  I’m not sure what comes over customers at these “big box” membership stores but at times I’m reminded of the story of “Lord of the Flies” as otherwise normal individuals are transformed into characters from “Mad Max.”  I noticed not one, but two incidents of drivers exhibiting unacceptable hostility levels of impatience over parking places.  It was such a negative vibe; I decided to forego the lunch incentive of a dollar-fifty ($1.50) polish sausage and soda.

This was not the first time I’ve noticed the “Jeckle and Hyde” transformation of what appear normal human beings at a Costco.  I’ve wondered if to entice customers to buy they transmit some type of aerosol spray through the ventilation system (like casinos in Vegas) that for some produces the unfortunate side-effect of combative behavior.  Haven’t you ever noticed how grown-ups seem to swarm over sampler’s tables, as if they were lining up for a monetary distribution, rather than a bite-size slice of a frozen burrito? I swear I once took out a piece of gum out of my pocket and noticed a line forming behind me.  It reminds me of watching seagulls attacking a scrap of food at a shoreline concession.  I’m under the impression customers must consider their paid membership as entitlements to receive a sample of whatever is being offered.

55 Gallon Barrels of Mayonnaise

I can’t help but be amused when I notice anyone, especially an elderly couple pushing a flat cart with “super size” portions of food.  Once, as I waited in line behind one of these types of customers purchasing Paul Bunyan size products at the cashier, during casual conversation a lady stated these were great buys especially for someone on a “fixed income.” I envisioned their garage being transformed into a small warehouse, with 100 lbs bags of dry dog food for their two pet Chihuahuas.  I wonder if for entertainment, this woman dawns an apron and gave out “free” samples to visiting guests.

Fixed Incomes

People seem to use this as a designated symbol of having financial related limitations.  Unless you’re a gambler or income is dependent on speculative businesses, aren’t most of us all on fixed incomes? What “fixed income” doesn’t mean are restrictive finances.  I know many retirees with “fixed incomes” exceeding my highest earnings.  Yet, especially since this a campaign season that term is mentioned as potential magnet for votes.  The terms fixed income and low income are not synonyms.  There exist so many individuals on fixed incomes that cannot afford the annual membership dues at Costco, or if they could, not afford to buy the 55 gallon barrel of mayonnaise.

Big Box Check-out Personnel and Airport Screeners

I’ve often wondered if Big Box check-out employees and airport screeners share some tribal roots.  With the exception of the “pat down” privileges at the airport, some exit store checkers seem to take their job way too seriously.  I get a kick in watching customers approach the receipt checkers, and you can see how some people really get intimidated through the process, I once noticed a customer take out their ID – seriously.  Speaking in checking IDs, I have no problem when making a debit or credit card purchase for a cashier to request to see my identification.  A classic example that fiction has no comparison to reality, not once but three times I have been asked to show my ID when making cash purchases of non-alcoholic products.  The reason I’ve emphasized alcoholic purchases, it’s understood that airports bars seem to mandate all customers provide age validation.  Yet it does get ridiculous!  Last year at an airport lounge in Oakland, I noticed a woman who appeared to be the age of my grandma (and I’m almost 3 times the legal drinking age) be asked to show ID for her glass of wine order.  Unless this person had been made up by a master team of Academy Award winning make-up artists, come on now, just serve this lady a drink – but don’t expect a tip, she’s likely on a fixed income!  It’s a mad, mad world.


Al "Skip" Solorzano
SKIP is a recognized expert in the field of diversity with keen ability to build strategic alliances, and successfully expand supplier diversity initiatives. He has consulted with multiple client sectors including pharmaceutical, insurance, manufacturing, health care, telecommunications, utilities nonprofit organizations, business entities and employee groups. As a facilitator and learning consultant presents unique perspectives to develop solutions; and promote qualities to successfully work with others through diversity, team-building and leadership development. Solorzano has been featured as a presenter at conferences sponsored by such entities as: AT&T, The United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Social Security Administration. A former Governor appointee and member of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials; Solorzano has been recognized by United Way as Most Influential Hispanics of the Bay Area; and a recipient of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Corporate Advocate of the Year award. Skip’s career endeavors as a corporate liaison, community leader and entrepreneur, provides the unique insight to write on an array of subject matter from learning processes; diversity; with a shared humorous perspective of life.

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  1. “Last year at an airport lounge in Oakland, I noticed a woman who appeared to be the age of my grandma (and I’m almost 3 times the legal drinking age) be asked to show ID for her glass of wine order. ”

    … that happens in ‘Sammy’s’ in Maui airport aswell – it ensures that there is NO question from anybody as to why they are being asked to provide id – and also stops the server ‘assuming’.

    • Common sense seems like such, a thing of the past. When someone appears over 80, I think you’d be safe.