Framing the Dialogue

Reflections Over a Quarter Pound Hot Dog

I enjoy shopping at Costco and often partake of their delicious and inexpensive fare after my shopping is done.  How can you beat a delicious quarter pound hot dog and a 20 ounce drink (with free refills) for under two dollars?  Even with the great food attraction I try to avoid Saturday shopping when possible because of the long lines and crowds, particularly around the free sample stations.  I find these aisle-clogging freee food stations maddening when I am in a hurry which is what I am when the store is crowded.  In a good day you can pretty much fill up with free food, but I don’t understand why folks think that they actually have to eat the sample right there in front of the server?  If it is something good (I had a lobster ravioli and IT WAS GOOD!) I want some and if it’s not I want around you.

The other sometimes negative aspect of Saturday shopping is how crowded the food court gets as everyone vies for a table with a “parking space” for their overloaded carts.  I share this desire as I want my cart near me.  I have already paid and don’t want my stuff wandering away.  These observations are not from any one meal, but a compilation of several visits:

  • The menu, though tasty, is limited and since there was a line you should have a good idea of what you want to order by the time it is your turn.  Those of us behind you appreciate your speed.
  • What do people do at the self-serve soft drink dispenser to make such a mess?  There’s ice and there are drinks…why the spills?
  • If the Costco staff collected all of the wasted relish of all of their stores they would probably have enough to fill Lake Erie annually.  What are you people doing to the relish?
  • Parents, when your young child says they’re done they’re done.
  • After the above scenario, your futile attempts for them not to be done are somewhat funny to your food court neighbors until…
  • Now quite passed the “done” stage the youngsters’ volume and pitch reach news levels
  • Your neighbors no longer smile
  • Your decision to let the critters roam while you and your friends ignore them is again somewhat funny until…
  • Cue the screaming
  • Threatening them doesn’t work.  I don’t know why do parents get uptight when I try it on their children.  (That was a joke as I have never threatened other people’s children – out loud)
  • Your threats are seen as futile by your children as you are in a public place and cannot enforce in front of 30 witnesses.  They know it instinctively.  There are times, however, when we wouldn’t care if you gave little Timmy and little whack.
  • Your children, still ignored by Mommy have become little Columbus’ and expand their range of exploration.
  • Perhaps the better show is watching the behaved kids watching the hooligans.  When a six year-old shakes his head at the behavior of your 9 year-old your kids are brats.
  • Oops there goes junior’s lemonade.  Mom, finally aware of her child, looks around as if she has never seen a spilled drink.  She casts around looking for a group of Costco employees to save her (actually they do).
  • Those Kirkland-brand paper towels really absorb.  Note to self to pick up a flat on next visit.
  • Mom kind of motions like she’ll help, but really doesn’t…she does however request a new cup.
  • I know that this is a food court, but when your kids literally splay the table and floor with food, you should have the courtesy to collect the gross stuff and leave the table somewhat serviceable.
  • As you finally head towards the door clutching your brood and your sales receipt the rest of us applaud, at least in our heads and hearts.

I often call this “dinner and a show.”  I don’t mean to stereotype Moms, but most frequently I see mothers and children at Costco without fathers.  When fathers are there, however, the kiddies are not much better.  The gold standard is when you have both parents. 

There is probably something to learn from that whole two parent model.

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