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Life in the Big City: ‘Bye, Costco?

Okay…that was interesting… Just got back from the planned Costco run we contemplated a couple of hours ago. And yea verily, I picked up a $25 cash card and tooled over to the gas pumps, there (I thought) to fill up the Dog Chariot.

Well. Not so much.

Miraculously, a line is empty so I drive right in and jump out of the car. Before I can stick the new cash card into the pump, I hear someone screaming.

Some guy is making a ruckus on the street that runs south of the Costco gas pumps, and he is completely, BATSH!T rabid. He’s yelling and screaming at the top of his lungs, in a total rage, flailing his fists in the air and jumping up and down. The guy defines Batsh!t. He’s either having a psychotic break or enjoying a bad trip on meth. Or maybe a little of both.

This Costco stands on the north side of Montebello Road, which borders, just to the south, a pretty bad neighborhood. Despite the deceptively inviting park, the neighborhood is a dangerous slum. A friend of SDXB’s and mine lived in one of the apartment buildings there. He was a retired reporter, an old man with a gimpy leg who needed a cane to walk. He was murdered in the apartment parking lot by a couple of sh!theads who beat him unconscious (we hope) and then drove their stolen car back and forth over him twice.

That’s the kind of place it is.

The crazed guy was on the other side of the street, but I tend to lean toward the better part of valor, especially when I’m not armed. I don’t carry a pistol in the car, because I think there’s too much risk of having it stolen. Maybe I should, though…

So I put the gas cap back on, jumped into the car, locked the door, and drove off.

And was glad I did: by the time I pulled away from the gas pump, he had crossed the street and was jumping the wall into the Costco parking lot.

Now he climbs a paloverde tree next to the wall and tries to wrench one of its limbs off. He’s wrestling and thrashing and yanking at it. What happened after that, I do not know, because I got away from him. Presumably he wanted a tree branch to use as a weapon. Lucky for all of us he didn’t have a gun or a knife.

The car didn’t have enough gas to make it to tomorrow’s art lesson, which is on the near side of Scottsdale. So I drove up to the QT in our area — also not at all in what you’d call a “good neighborhood” — where I bought six gallons at $1.88. Didn’t notice how much Costco was charging, but I’ll betcha it wasn’t any less than that.

One reason I prefer Costco’s gas pumps to QT’s is that there’s always an attendant outside — a big, husky male attendant. At QT, the employees huddle inside an air-conditioned building with bullet-proof plastic between them and the hoi polloi. I didn’t see a Costco guy today, but didn’t look — he may have been inside his kiosk calling the cops. Who knows?

Today’s junket may turn out to be my last Costco trip. Trying to buy there without a credit card is just too, too damn much hassle.

I’d written out a check before I entered the store, so as to speed checkout. But just as I wrote in the amount, I realized damn! I forgot to buy the cash card. So I tell the cashier I’ll need to buy a cash card.

He now insists on adding the cash card into the amount already entered in his register, meaning I have to void the check I’ve already written and write a whole new check. This entails a lot of figuring out about how much $25 + the purchase + the cash back I’ve asked for will come to. I’m now getting flustered, because I don’t understand why he can’t just enter a second transaction and because the bitch standing in line behind me is clucking her tongue and tsking and groaning out loud, so this slows me down even more.

Can’t blame the bitch: Costco only has three lines open, so even though there aren’t many people in the store, the lines still go halfway back to the meat counter. This is a particularly infuriating trick that Costco likes to pull on Monday mornings. So I don’t fault her for being pissed. But she could, at least, keep her yap shut.

So that was my Costco adventure. It was discouraging enough that I believe I don’t want to shop there any more. I’m sure my son will pick up the packages of meat I need for the dogs. Otherwise…really, everything else I buy there can be had, in far less cost-inducing volume, somewhere else.

Costco dudes and dudettes: listen up! If you make it aversive to shop in your stores, it won’t be long before your stores go the way of Macy’s.

8 thoughts on “Life in the Big City: ‘Bye, Costco?”

  1. You are wise Funny to take your leave….Let the police fight with these crazies! I gotta agree with you on Costco…I just don’t get it…especially now that we are “empty nesters”. But I know folks that go there or to Sam’s Club weekly. My frustrating moment is somewhat like yours BUT different. I needed to pick one $9 item at Walmart…We don’t just have a Walmart we have a SUPER Walmart. It’s huge and I find it a bit bewildering why you would have just 3 lanes open. So I get in the shortest line and get behind a gal that is undoubtedly feeding an army. When I see someone behind ME in line with one item I always wave them ahead….This gal….NO DICE….Sooo I stand in line as she drags this crap out of her cart …. is asking how much the things rang up….had coupons….the wrong ones…wanted to pay with numerous previously used gift cards, wanted to challenge the amounts stated left on the cards….THEN wished to pay the balance with a credit card….that wasn’t signed….and therefore needed to show ID….Which took anther good bit of time while she located her ID….AND as she turned to leave…she looked back and said…”is that all you had?”….”you could have went ahead”….My reply….”Not a problem…” I’m going right to heaven!

    • Gaaahhhh! Isn’t that annoying?!

      I had three things and the woman behind me who was bellyaching had a basketful. But it probably wasn’t her fault: some people are raised in a barn. 😉

  2. Oh, I know how you feel about Walmart Supercenters, JestJack. I go to them only when absolutely necessary, 5 or 6 times a year.
    We don’t have Costco stores in Arkansas, but the few times I’ve been to Sam’s Club, I haven’t been impressed. If we ever do get a Costco close to where I live, I’ll check it out.
    As for your latest Costco visit involving the crazy man… yikes! Maybe you SHOULD start carrying a gun when you leave the house. I imagine Arizona is a lot like here, the authorities don’t have much objection to people using guns for self-defense. So far, I don’t feel the need for one, hope I never do.

    • We have a Walmart in the same shopping center. I don’t care for it — dark, dingy, and dirty-looking. And most of the employees act like they hate their jobs. Costco’s are always clean, and they treat their employees decently. By and large they’ll tell you like their jobs, and they behave as though they do.

      The city of Phoenix has always been a patchwork, with the exception of Scottsdale, which is mostly upscale (except for a relatively small area) and south Phoenix, which looks a lot like Haiti. The poverty in that era beggars description — it’s hard to believe you’re in a so-called First-World country when you’re in that area: a direct result of right-to-work-for-nothing laws, a feeble social support system, and exploitation of immigrants, legal or not. In the central part of the city, though, you find patches of drug-ridden slums side-by-side with upscale neighborhoods, some of them with million-dollar homes. It’s as though there was no real, homogeneous middle class here — you’re either rich or you’re poor.

      As a practical matter, that’s only the impression you get when you’re in the central part of the city. The middle class has moved to the endless blanket of sameness that is the city’s suburbs. If you can’t afford to live within reasonable driving distance of the office and you can’t afford to put your kids in private schools, you move to Gilbert, Mesa, Goodyear, Litchfield Park, Cave Creek, and waypoints.

      At any rate, the shopping center in question draws people from a mixed demographic, some pretty poor and some upper middle class, though it’s situated on the border of a blighted area. Methamphetamine use in this city is epidemic, and that’s probably what ailed the rabid guy. Combine a really malevolent drug with weak social services and almost nonexistent mental health care, and you’ve got a problem.

  3. Crystal meth used to be a problem in this neck of the woods…..But now believe it or not heroin is the drug of choice. Where I live has basically become “Richestan” it seems and the kids of privilege seem to have this desire to stick a needle in their arm. There is a “unassuming” individual home that is a “methadone clinic” on the main drag. The parking lot is packed in the morning….before work…and has steady traffic during the day. IMHO the drug problem seems to be getting worse…not better….

    • That is so sad. You have to wonder what’s wrong with our culture that so many people feel a need to be wacked out of their heads all the time.

      We also were gifted with a methadone clinic. This one is on the run-down side of Conduit of Blight Boulevard, but it’s within walking distance of our ‘hood. The young up-and-coming new homeowners here were up in arms about it. And it is true, a problem with facilities like it seems to be that they draw drug users into an area, as facilities for the homeless seem to draw the homeless into an area. But having NO facilities is not the answer. At least people who are using methadone are, by and large, making an effort to get off heroin.

      Interestingly, in some countries the medical establishment questions the value of methadone as a treatment for opioid addiction. The stuff has some pretty dreadful side effects…right up to and including death. Not just for the user: it apparently impairs driving ability and has led to some catastrophic crashes.

      As for methamphetamine: last I heard, use was pretty prevalent in these parts. It’s easy to make, I guess. One of its many baleful side effects is psychosis. So I suppose the wretched man who had himself worked up to such a rage could have been suffering from a meth overdose.

      Whatever his problem, he was unmistakably dangerous — no question it was unsafe to remain anywhere near him.

  4. I’m with ya on the kids that have a need to be “bombed” out of their minds. Just makes you want to shake them…What happens quite often here… the addicts will go get the methadone and then do the “recreational drugs” as well…and overdose…sometimes they die…Because of this need for cash “B and E’s” are the “low hanging fruit” as everyone has to work to pay the payments on the McMansions. With no one home it’s easy pickens… We just had a couple of “heros” who were out on “work release” during the day attack and kill a lady because she wouldn’t transport them somewhere to get drugs. As I understand it they killed her….disposed of the body and then went back to the lock-up that night. I guess jail was gonna be their alibi…TRUE STORY!

    • Hah! You want a true story? Lemme tell you about this one: it happened about six blocks from the Funny Farm, in one of the tenements right across Conduit of Blight Blvd.

      A woman who is getting methadone leaves it out where her kid can get into it. The kid swallows a hefty dose of it. So…presumably not wanting to get into trouble for putting her child at risk, she figures she can counteract it by dosing the kid with crystal meth!!!

      Yo! One side makes you bigger, the other makes you smaller, eh?

      Needless to say, it didn’t work. The kid croaked over, and now she’s in REAL trouble.

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