I suppose membership with Costco is an inevitable step in my ongoing Transition to Suburbia, and despite having lived in the USA for almost a decade now, trips to big box warehouse-type stores still hold an almost anthropological fascination for me, a cultural exploration of the types of consumables — and crafts-turned-consumables — that retailers sell in bulk.
On our last pre-Christmas trip, we saw such things as animal plush throws, complete Nancy Drew box sets, car battery jump kits, art print boots, 1.5 to 2 liter bottles of Infinium and Shiraz and egg nog, “Incredibites,” huge bags of frozen raw and cooked shrimp, pork jerky, and “sugar free” smoked salmon with green tea extract as an additive.
Some of this might seem normal to you; to me they are utterly fascinating and exotic artifacts of a culture’s desire for affordable luxury and indulgent convenience in wholesale quantities. Totally worth $50/year.
Even more sadly fascinating was this bike-rail-turned-bench sitting on an island in the middle of the parking lot, facing towards the garage openings of the Costco Tire Center.
The story I see here is that at some point in the past, someone had the crazy idea of making a Costco in a mostly-inaccesible Virginia suburb more convenient for bicyclists. When the bike crowd failed to materialize (because who can carry $200 of warehouse shopping on a two-wheeler?), they instead strapped a bench seat onto the bike rail so people having their tires replaced could sit and wait in the middle of a parking lot.
There may have been some incredibly profound symbolic message in all this, but I couldn’t crystallize it in my head because I had three gallons of milk and multiple 12-can packs of soup and cat food to put away. (Also, the smoked salmon is delicious.)