Let’s go to Costco with an anxiety disorder!


When my husband asks me to go to Costco, I feel like I’m being punished for doing something terrible. Not terrible as in I shrunk his favorite shirt in the washer. Terrible as in, “Wench, you burnt my chest hair with a blowtorch! Now, get ye to Costco!”

I was hellbent against joining the place, despite several of our friends’ insistence that Costco is “The Happiest Place on Earth” (which is actually Disneyland, but I’ve never had the heart to tell them). Jake talked me into it, but even walking in to get our membership cards, I remember thinking, “Oh, so this is what evil looks like.”

See, there’s this famous story in my family about my mom at Christmas time at Meijer, a superstore in my hometown. She was overstimulated by the lights and the crowds and she couldn’t find my dad, so they had to call his name over the loudspeaker: “Dave Dobie, paging Dave Dobie; please come collect your crazy wife in produce.”

The lesson learned? Stay away from superstores, especially if, like me, you suffer from an anxiety disorder.

Costco wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for EVERYTHING ABOUT IT. I headed there today, post-workout, so I felt all limber and jovial until I reached obstacle one: The Parking Lot of Death. I don’t know if my fellow consumers are literally trying to kill me or if their cell phones are so far up their asses that they’re uncomfortable and can’t reach the brakes because they’re too busy screaming, “Please, get this cell phone out of my ass.”

Then, in order to enter the members-only champagne room (there isn’t really champagne; there should be champagne), you have to show your members-only card, which I’m sure makes other people feel really special but just makes me feel like I’m about to enter Auschwitz.

You have to get a cart, because everything at Costco is in bulk, because Jake and I obviously require 30 ROLLS OF TOILET PAPER AT ALL TIMES. The shoppers at Costco move like sea turtles following city lights. They’re slow, vacant, and probably, someday, a huge bird will swoop down and bite their heads off. (I bet Costco owns huge birds! They probably stock the huge palates of 30-roll TP!) It’s impossible to be efficient, because everyone moves around the floor-to-ceiling aisles, mystified by the free food samples that probably cause cancer.



Now, picture me: medium height, skinny, post-workout bandana, haunted look, and sallow cheeks. Picture me curling into a smaller and smaller ball on the top of my cart. I chew my lips. I stutter-step and try to breathe, but they apparently suck all the air out of Costco, and I CAN’T BREATHE! I have to hurry because if I don’t hurry I’ll die of asphyxiation, but I can’t hurry because the lady in size 20 jeans in front of me won’t decide if she wants fifty or one hundred pounds worth of hot dogs.

If you’re lucky enough to make it to the register, everything is almost all right. You pay, you smile, you run like hell for the door with all your toilet paper, but then, you have to pass the exit test where nice-looking ladies (who are probably vengeful dragons) check your tab and make sure you aren’t stealing anything. And then to The Parking Lot of Death!

By the time I’m back in my driver’s seat, my head is spinning and I’m thinking, “Why don’t I keep bourbon in my purse? I should totally keep bourbon in my purse.”

Costco is like hell with fluorescent lights and the smell of microwaveable food where the majority of its inhabitants are chubby and slow-moving. Maybe, just maybe, some of the customers never leave. They circle the aisles on auto-pilot. They forget their families, their names. They stay forever. They become Costco employees.

12 thoughts on “Let’s go to Costco with an anxiety disorder!

  1. I don’t really like Cosco. For all the reasons you stated in your blog. I can’t stand huge stores. I don’t get anxious but the place could most definitely cause one to get in that state. I really think it is a shoppers haven for hoarders. And I hate hoarding. My husband and I are members but I hardly ever go. I guess I’m not at a stage in my life anymore where I need all the bulk. It’s more for families and companies. I’ll pass.

  2. Three weeks ago I had foot surgery and while recuperating had to go to Costco. Since I couldn’t walk the necessary 5 miles around the story, I got to ride the little go-cart thingy. I’ve never had such fun in Costco. I embarrassed the fool our of my friend who walked behind me, pretending she didn’t know me as I exclaimed WEEE, WEEE,WEEE like the pink pig in those commercials. I also came inches from knocking people over but somehow they all managed to escape. Backing up was the most fun of all. I saved my special boot so I can go back sometime and do it again when I’m depressed. Making a fool of your self is a sure cure for depression:)) Maybe we could go together?

  3. If you can’t find any toilet paper, it’s because I got to Costco before you. I totally get your warehouse store angst, though. Costco is an anxiety inducing place. The good thing about it is that with the mass quantities of food you are forced to purchase, you will likely only have to go to Costco 2-3 times per year. Just sayin’.

  4. I especially like the Sea Turtle comparison, and the Parking Lot of Death. I think phone-up-the-ass is afflicting a lot of drivers, though, because it isn’t limited to the Costco parking lot. I only wish it was, then they could get cleaned out by police with those spike strips for their tires or something to that effect.

  5. This is hilarious! They did not have to page your father but I was hyperventilating and close to tears by the time I found him down one of the many very narrow aisles! Love you XXOXOX

  6. This made me laugh! I have never been able to explain why Costco makes me so anxious. I travel alone, work, but there is something about that place which bothers me like no other. My friends think it’s strange. I’m glad you injected some humor into the topic!

  7. Bravo! You’ve captured the essence of Costco for me. Thanks for sharing this funny and oh so true point of view.

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