Relax! It’s Costco

an antique cash registerWhen it comes to Costco, I feel a huge sense of gratitude for the wide range of products they offer, and often, at staggeringly good prices.

But to be able to take full advantage of my visits, I did not realize the number of rules I had set for myself whenever a trip to Costco was on the agenda.

Who knew that my algorithm for going to Costco could be so lengthy?
– Did I get a solid 8 hours of sleep?
– Did I have my 2 morning coffees?
– Have I recently completed a meal to avoid being “hangry”?
– Are there enough items on the list to truly warrant a trip to Costco?
– Which Costco location should have all the products on the list?
– Can I avoid shopping on a weekend?
– Can I avoid shopping in the afternoon?
– Can I avoid shopping on the Friday of a long weekend?
– Can I avoid shopping on a government pay week?

It’s not Costco’s fault. It’s the energy that I pick up from some of the other shoppers that keeps me off balance.

For example, there are shoppers who have an astounding sense of creativity when it comes to rules of the road in the aisles. I marvel at their mastery of driving their carts in diagonal lines, performing 180 degree turns with no advance notice and who seem to embody pure randomness, keeping their fellow shoppers constantly guessing.

Also, there are the angry looking shoppers who drive their shopping carts with laser-sharp determination, speed and force like they are very late for something and not going to slow down for anything or anyone.

Plus, despite being what I consider to be a patient person, navigating crowds of shoppers who carry the baggage of their workday and radiate intense stress was never my strong suit. For that reason, I will only shop in late afternoon as an absolute last resort.

In the mix, of course, you will find more grounded, normal shoppers too, but it seems that it’s the folks in the extremes who raise the level of drama in a shopping expedition that keep me in fight-or-flight, shallow breathing mode. No wonder I’m flushed and gasping for air by the time I’m checking out.

To me, the challenging part of navigating Costco is that shoppers’ eyes are directed at the big displays and the wide aisles, searching for products, but not necessarily looking where they are going. That being the case, people aren’t offering visual cues with their eyes of their upcoming turns and lane changes.

Either way, in Costco crowds, my brain often feels like a GPS stating “recalculating” repeatedly as I try to get through my list and through the crowds.

When we were recovering from the pandemic, I made a point of getting up early to be there as soon as the doors opened, just to be in as little foot traffic as possible. What a revelation!

What I discovered was a much more enjoyable, relaxed pace that actually helped me to slow down and to enjoy browsing, discovering products I might have missed previously. Not only was the pace more manageable and my mental GPS able to guide me without constantly “recalculating”, but I was able to complete the shopping faster and with little recovery time afterward.

In a recent early morning experiment, in a moment of curiosity, I surveyed shoppers’ faces to see who looked relaxed and who looked stressed. It was a most interesting survey in human nature.

Fortunately, at that time of day, most people are pretty relaxed. One woman even brought a smile to my face when I could hear her humming along to some song in her head while driving her cart at a very pleasant pace. This was not something I ever witnessed in an afternoon expedition.

I couldn’t figure out the reason for a small number of stressed and angry looking shoppers at that time of day. I chalked it up to the possibility that they weren’t morning people.

Fortunately, they were so few in number that I didn’t feel a need to be quite so focused on my spatial awareness, making for a more relaxing, enjoyable experience overall.

Either way, for me, mornings at Costco have become my new habit and are definitely worth getting up early!

Thanks Costco!

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