Saturday, March 10, 2012

MOVE!! A Saturday Squandered At Sam's Club

Have I ever mentioned how I feel about Sam's Club? Technically, I like the store itself. For people who consume a limited variety of foods in massive quantities, you can't beat Sam's Club's bulk pricing strategy.  But walking amongst (and trying to maneuver around) the clientele, on the other hand, is nothing more than a bottomless pit of frustration.

Today, it hit me before I'd even stepped foot in the store.  Today was sunny and unseasonably warm, which is normally a fantastic piece of news.  But something happened that made me consider--albeit briefly--the merits of cold weather and multiple layers of winter clothing:

As I approached the Sam's Club entrance, out walked a random, elderly shirtless man with a bike.  What happened to "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service"?  When I say it was warm today, I should clarify that it reached ~60°--hardly a life-threatening heat wave that would warrant emergency shirt evacuation protocol.  Welcome to Sam's Club.

Disappointment struck when I reached the frozen foods section, only to discover that my prized Asian stir fry, far and away my vegetable blend of choice, was out of stock.  Now, without my Asian stir fry, I'm staring down the barrel of a depressing week with ten pounds of boring, flavorless, American green beans.

As I tried to exit the freezer section, flabby customer sample traffic congested every possible escape route. "A free bite of tilapia!  Quick!! Abandon the cart!" 

This guy decided to drop everything and spend ten minutes in front of the sample station, leaving his overstuffed shopping cart directly, squarely, smack-dab in the middle of the aisle.  And apparently everyone who saw this decided it was a brilliant strategy, worthy of emulating.  Shame on you, Sam's Club, for making the horrendous decision to put two sample stations in a single aisle, as if one sample station doesn't blog things up enough.  If the image is a little blurry, it's because my hand was shaking with anger...

I turned the other way in despair and saw what looked like an L.A. freeway at rush hour:

Why?!  Why must everyone park their idle carts directly in the middle of the aisle?  In some aisles, the problem has become so extreme that Sam's Club staffers have waved the white flag and given up entirely, throwing in the towel and breaking out the yellow "AISLE CLOSED" tape:


Hours later, exhausted, I arrived at the checkout lane and had the pleasure of watching the elderly, indecisive, non-English speaking guy in front of me slowly and very painfully learn about the magic and wizardry of the modern credit card reader.

Upon finally reaching the exit, I spotted some Girl Scouts hawking their seasonal treats in the entryway.  If there's anything worse than children, it's children trying to sell stuff I don't want.  Luckily they were quiet salesgirls, waving posters but generally keeping their mouths shut. Good news, otherwise a Girl Scout might have caught a five pound bag of green beans upside the head.  (Does that warrant some kind of merit badge?)

One final stop stood between me and freedom, and the peace of mind that comes from driving away from Sam's Club: filling the Malibu with gas.  But what did I find at the Sam's Club gas station?  More traffic and congestion!

The cars were piled three-deep in all the lines.  Apparently rising gas prices are encouraging cash-strapped customers to take full advantage of Sam's Club's favorite loss-leader.  As Tom Petty said, "the waiting is the hardest part..."

Despite a frustrating afternoon, I close this blog post on an upbeat note.  As I already mentioned, it was a sunny and warm day, and I was able to bust out the jump rope and enjoy the weather a little in the afternoon, the first time I've been able to actually enjoy being outside in a very long time. I could have spent even more time outside enjoying the weather, if only I hadn't made that stop at Sam's Club...

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