Saturday, February 03, 2007

Supersize me

I am now the proud owner of an infrared trash can. It’s stainless steel and has a battery-operated sensor that opens the lid when you approach it and closes it when you’re done. It works like a charm, the only drawback being that I am unable to program it to make a burping noise when it closes.

Until last Tuesday, I didn’t know such a thing existed. Last Tuesday is when I joined Costco and my eyes opened to a lot of things.

Costco, for those of you who live in quaint places where shopping is still done at the corner store, is what is known as a warehouse store, or Big Box. There are some 375 Costcos (Costci?) in the US. The average Costco is about the size of a municipal sports arena and contains everything from plasma TVs to packages of croissants large enough to feed the Third Arrondissement.

Indeed, almost everything at Costco is supersized. Light bulbs cannot be purchased in packages of less than 16. Batteries come in lots of 12. Cheese wheels really could be used as wheels. Oversized boxes marked “Tropicana” contain enough orange juice to inundate the lowest-lying parts of Florida. Shoppers toting 30-unit packages of toilet paper resemble ants carrying crumbs twice their size. After a few minutes in a Costco, one is thrown back to early childhood, when adults and their furnishings all seemed so very, very big.

The attraction is, of course, low prices. For access to these you pay $50 a year to join and you get an ID card with your picture on it. Marilyn and I joined because the car needed a new set of tires and Costco was practically giving away Michelins, with a $60 off coupon to boot.

During the time it took to get the tires installed, we trolled the aisles of our new shopping sanctum, which is how I found the infrared trash can. At $36.89, it is cheaper than similarly sized non-automated cans at Bed, Bath and Beyond, and the same model is sold online at various places for twice the price. With two buttons on the front of the lid and the flashing infrared sensor between them, it has a pinched face-like look that resembles one of the hokey robots from Mystery Science Theater 3000. Sometimes, like the computer Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey, I can almost hear it talking to me: Hi, Dave. I’m hungry, Dave. You don’t need the rest of that sandwich, do you, Dave?

We also have our eyes on the new computers. (You can configure a new PC at and you can configure the same exact PC through’s HP portal and save $255.)

And I must admit that the plasma TVs looked rather tempting.

As did the asteroid-sized package of crab and gruyere cheese in puff pastry.

And the six-pack of wine.

Lots of money we’ll be saving.



Anonymous said...

Since moving to, sort of the hollar,
we have never run out of t.p..
Thanks to Sam's Club. Almost never out of paper towels!
I use to think those stores were so gross and cheap. I have changed my mind. Let me tell you about my new
49.00 rice cooker, works like a charm!

Phil said...

O brave new world.........
David, if you have to walk past it in the middle of the night on the way to the bathroom, I trust you have nerves that can match where your imagination might momentarily take you.

Anonymous said...

Ah, Costco! The place I go when my soul needs a ginormous bunch of roses for a sou.

Anonymous said...

But aren't you the liberal who eschews Wal-Mart and conspicuous consumption? Have you gone over to the dark side?

Justify your actions.

Or can you?

David Arenson said...

As to the last poster, good old anonymous, you'd better watch it or I'll sic my trash can on you. I imagine it can do some serious damage to the nether regions . . .