Costco After Arlie

My local Costco is always packed. People are competitive in my town, so look out if you think you’re going to park there on the day before Christmas, or New Year’s, or the day the new monthly ad comes out. The parking lot is tense with drivers competing for spots.
Arlie, the Costco guy, died before Christmas. He was the smiling face you could count on when you shopped there. Arlie had cancer and was determined to make the most of his days. He never knew my name, and I didn’t know his until he died, but he always had a friendly hello for me. He was the greeter, right up to the end, at the entrance where you have to show your membership card.
Arlie used to be a checker before he got too sick. Before that, he was probably a bagger. Arlie never would’ve bounced my 12-pack of fresh apples into the cart, as a young Costco woman did one day.
“Hey!” I said. “Careful there. You’re going to bruise them.”
“I can get you new ones,” the young woman said.
I didn’t want to wait for her to go get them. I didn’t want to be that person who insisted on new apples.
“Just don’t do it the next time,” I said.
“I’ll get you different apples,” she said again.
“No,” I said.
I left the store feeling like a grumpy old woman.
Arlie never would’ve put my 24-pack of Snapple on the bottom rack of the cart after I purposefully placed it up top where I could move it with ease into my car.
“Hey!” I said to the bagger dude. “Put those back where they were. I can’t lift them from the bottom rack.”
“We can help you with carry-out,” the bagger said, “and load your car for you, too.”
I didn’t want them to help me.
Just leave my Snapples where I put them!
Once again I left the store feeling like an old woman. Arlie never would’ve made me feel that way.
Last night I went to Costco at 5:45 to get two runner rugs on sale. As I was leaving the store, I noticed the car next to my car had its brake lights on. I waited for the driver to back up in case she didn’t see me. She didn’t back up. I decided she must be on a phone call and walked behind her SUV. Sure enough, she was talking into her cell phone.
I threw the rug runners into the front seat, put my Prius into gear, and backed up, checking the rear view camera. When I was halfway out of the spot I heard a honk. I checked my mirrors and saw a guy with his shopping cart, but he couldn’t have honked. I finished backing out, put the car into drive and saw a woman in her car about five cars down waving at me. I pulled up next to her and rolled down my window.
What did she want? If I am an AARP senior, then she was a Medicare senior, and then some.
“I wish you hadn’t backed up just now,” she said. “I wanted to park, and now I have to go around you. I can’t do it all!”
I didn’t speak; she didn’t wait for me to speak. She honked her horn again and drove past me.
That lady was stressed. She needed to vent. I’d messed her up, just like the apple girl and the Snapple guy messed me up. She was coping the best she could: with people pushing shopping carts, pedestrians, SUV’s with their brake lights on, and random Prius owners having the nerve to back up five cars down from her!
That’ll be me someday, overwhelmed with going to Costco, I thought as I maneuvered out of the parking lot.
I don’t know how I could’ve handled it any differently. Stopping, rolling down my window and listening to the older woman seemed to be what she needed. What else could I have done?
Arlie, the Costco guy, would’ve known what to do.

Couldda Wouldda Shouldda
I should’ve looked all around for older ladies before I backed up.
Wait! I did — I looked in the rear view mirror.

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