Started out needing a couple gallons of pool acid, a tank of gasoline, and a few minor things at Costco.
Normally I would buy gas at the midtown Costco, which is cheaper than just about anyplace else in town. It’s not a very pleasant place to shop, though, because the store is located in an area infested with drug-addicted transients. Though security patrols the shopping lot and a hulking attendant lurks by the gas pumps, it’s still depressing to have to drive past a park that hosts a campground full of homeless folks, most of them spaced-out druggies or untreated mentally ill. Plus the Costco in Richistan, because it caters to a more affluent buyer, offers a broader and better range of products.
To get the acid at a reasonable price would require a trip to Home Depot on Cave Creek, which is halfway to the Richistan Costco in Paradise Valley, and directly on the way. The HD, however, is way out of the way of the midtown Costco; to avoid having to drive way north and then turn around and drive back south, I’d have to buy the acid at Leslie’s, where it’s massively overpriced. Soooo…. I decided to make the trek north to the Depot, then head directly east to Costco Richistan. This makes for a longish drive but presents a better likelihood of getting the goods I needed at the cheapest price. Except for the gas.
First stop: Home Depot.
Trot into the garden department, where they normally house the pool supplies.
Nope. No acid. No chlorine. No pool stuff. They’ve moved this junk from its usual niche and replaced it with Christmas junk.
I can’t find it in its old place in the garden department. Can’t find it anyplace outside. They’re supposed to store this stuff outside because the combination of acid and chlorine is explosive, and they keep it outside to minimize the potential for catastrophe, should a leak or a moment of stupidity occur.
After much traipsing around, I finally find an employee. “Where’s the pool stuff?”
“It’s up aisle 16. Go all the way to the end and turn right.”
Trudge up aisle 16 to the far north end of the store. Search, search, search, and search some more. No pool supplies.
Fuck it, I think. Costco has a pool section. They may have the stuff.
So I climb back in my car, annoyed, and proceed to the western border of Richistan, whereon lies the upscale Costco.
A few things are needed, notably another bathmat, this one to serve as a nest for the ailing corgi, who had taken to laying on the icy tiles next to the bed. And a package of meat.
While I’m there, I realize that eating steak is now a thing of the past. At $12 a pound for ribeye (not even the prime version! just choice!), a package of beefsteak goes for $50 to $80 and up. Sooo…forget that.
A package of scallops — wild, not farmed — which used to be an extravagance, is “only” $20, but because I only eat four or at the outside five per serving, it will last for weeks. Pick that up.
One of the snack ladies is peddling some smoked salmon treats. These are very tasty, and with the $2 off come-on a package is only $6. Impulse buy: grab.
A rack of lamb is also a decent buy for me, because I cut it into enough pieces to feed me for four meals. $25.
The bath mat is reasonably priced, comparatively speaking: $13.
I spot a red casual sweater, exactly the thing I’ve been looking for the past several weeks. $18.99. Impulse buy: grab.
The checkout lines are endless. The Richerati…I swear, those people are such sh!theads. I guess the way you get to be rich is to cultivate an attitude that lends to, among many charming habits, cutting people off in line. Every jerk in the store has to slam in ahead of me, so I stand there and stand there and stand there and stand there and finally get to the cash register.
The checkout lady racks up all these purchases. I hand over my cash card. She informs me I owe more.
Huh? There’s $180 left on that card. This stuff cannot possibly add up to that much.
“Okay,” say I. “Take off that and that and that,” pointing to the bath mat and the impulse buys.
She doesn’t know how to deduct a purchase. She has to call a manager. He refunds the amounts she’s charged up, about $35 or $40. They inform me that my purchases still exceed the card’s balance.
People are lined up behind me, tapping their toes impatiently, all the way back to the meat department. By now I am SO exasperated, I say, “Fine. Just keep it. Delete the entire purchase and leave the money on my cash card.”
This is still beyond the cashier’s skill level, but the manager has no problem figuring it out.
Furious, I stalk out of the store and drive across the street to the Target. There I buy a bath rug for the dog to nest on but cannot find a pool department. Nor can I find an employee to ask. When I ask the cashier, she doesn’t know what a pool department is, so I figure it’s safe to assume Target doesn’t sell pool acid. 😀
I trudge back into the central city, where I pay way too much for two gallons of pool acid at Leslie’s.
Continue down to the Pore Folks’ Costco, where I get gasoline for 40 cents a gallon (!!!) less than I paid at the QT for enough to get down to the church and back.
Into said down-at-the-heels Costco, whereinat to purchase the things I needed. By now I am truly furious.
On the way down there, it occurs to me that if the two clerks at the Richistan Costco couldn’t figure out how to refund two items, they might not have succeeded in deleting the entire order.
So as soon as I get inside the store, — which fortunately, because no one else enjoys having to brave a parade of drug-addicted bums, either, is almost empty — I line up at the customer service stand. There I’m told no problem! Yes, there’s $181 remaining on the card.
Now I run around the store and buy the main things I need, less the sweater and the meat and the bath mat and plus a now much-needed $8 bottle of wine. These items came to a grand total of $71. And that left $111 on the cash card, for future purchases.
Say what? Seventy-one bucks? Really? The Costco up in Richistan just told me that those items plus two packages of meat plus a bath mat and a sweater, hold the wine thank you, came to a total in excess of $181.
Well, I pay the bill and run.
On the way home, I think…that can’t be right!
Either the guy in the slums keyboarded the purchases in wrong, or the lady at the Richistan store did.
When I got home, I entered that $71 in an Excel file and added the things that I did NOT buy at the mid-town Costco but had tried to buy during the aborted trip to the Richistani Costco…and got this:
I don’t think I’m forgetting anything. In other words, the Costco in a fancier part of town tried to charge me something in excess of $181 for $155 worth of goods. Less than that, actually: I didn’t try to buy a bottle of wine at the first Costco. That’s 8 bucks plus tax. Eight dollars from $155 is only $147.
The prices are the same, by and large, from store to store. So the only explanation is that one of the cashiers — probably the one in Richistan — made a mistake.
It was 3:00 by the time I got home. I’d been on the road since before noon, with no lunch and precious little breakfast. And rather little, we might add, to show for all that frustrating, maddening batting around in the nasty traffic.
So. Even though shopping in a more upscale part of town is a slightly less unpleasant experience, I guess I’ll stick to my kind after this…