Thursday, January 29, 2009


I pride myself on being prepared. Prepared for the weather, prepared for when the baby's diaper blows out the side. Prepared for any foreseeable event when I travel. I have lists on the computer that remind me what to bring to be prepared, and I have post-it notes on the nightstand to remind me of things that didn't make it to the computer. When I travel I have almost no need for a flashlight, but I'll be damned if I'm leaving it at home. But in the event that I do leave it at home, that will be the one time the rental car breaks down in the dark in some sketchy area.

And because I pride myself on being prepared, you can imagine my surprise when I reached into my bag after making it through airport security at LAX, and I didn't have my glasses. Not sunglasses, not something I could just pick up at the grocery store, but my eyeglasses. It's not like I'm Mr. Magoo or anything, but no eyeglasses equals headaches, so it's more than a minor annoyance. I briefly considered having them shipped up to me, but then I briefly considered how smashed they'd be when they arrived.

The conclusion was to call my eye doctor's office, have them fax the prescription to me, then go down to the nearest LensCrafters and get the cheapest pair of glasses I could find. I called LensCrafters to make sure they'd be open after work, and I hopped on the bus down to the mall. I looked on the little mall map for LensCrafters and it said it was on level "M". Mezzanine, right. I go up to the Mezzanine level and there's no LensCrafters. I not-so-quickly discover that it's not the Mezzanine level, but the "Metro" level, which they mean as the basement level. Right.

Upon entering LensCrafters, I immediately head for the cheapo glasses. And the cheapo eyeglasses consisted of mainly Bill Lumbergh style glasses. I tried them on and almost laughed myself out of the store, but I opted for some Sarah Palin type glasses. I handed the glasses and my prescription to the nearest LensCrafters employee and we started filling out paperwork and taking eye and face readings for these cheapo glasses.

The employee takes my paperwork and goes to the room where they hammer out the prescription lenses, and comes back 30 seconds later. "The machine is broken. Would you like to come back tomorrow?" I'm about ready to start a riot and start clearing the walls of all the pretty little designer frames, but I tell him "Nah, I'll just go without. Thanks." I figured by the time I came back after work, I'm already halfway through my travels, so why bother paying for some lame frames? And now I've convinced myself of the bright side: At least I wouldn't be losing my glasses on this little trip.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Mob Rules

Being the good consumers that we are, Lily and I finally made a date with destiny and purchased a Costco membership. Really the reason we were there to buy in bulk was the party we were hosting at our house for Judah's birthday. The big 0-3! And 62 people had RSVP'd yes to our Evite, so we knew it was gonna be a rager.

So off to Costo were we to buy party platters, pastries, and paper towels. Among other things. And if you've never walked into a Costco, add it to your list of things to witness in life. It's insane. Huge numbers of people ambling around a huge warehouse with huge shopping carts, big enough for two kids to sit side-by-side in the kid seating part. It was only Thursday and it was so packed that it was hard to imagine what it would be like to go on a weekend when the regular folks aren't working. The place was so buzzing that there was barely enough room to maneuver the cart around without getting into a 20-cart pileup.

The packed atmosphere began to drive us mad after about 10 minutes. It seemed that no matter which way you turned your monstrous cart, there'd be somebody either barreling down the lane, or a cart in the middle of the aisle to go look at 1000 count bottles of Advil. I just wanted to pull over to get out from behind the "wheel", so to speak, and there's someone either staring at the warehouse ceiling standing in the place I want to pull into, or pushing their cart at a snail's pace while gabbing on the cell phone.

And then there's the samples. Costco likes to set up stations throughout the warehouse to cook up some vittles for the hungry shoppers to try out. Experienced Costco shoppers seem to know the drill and about how long things take to cook there, because it seemed that as soon as a dish popped onto a plate, five ravenous shoppers descended on the spot to gobble it up. I tried multiple times to get to the tamales, but I wasn't fast enough. Gotta go back more I guess. Or climb over people's carts like everyone else does.

As we meandered through picking up items for the party, it began to dawn on me how Costco really gets you. It's that EVERYTHING is there. You may go there to buy bulk food, but along the way you see a TV you like and think "yeah, I need one of those too", and you walk by a cross-training/treadmill-type machine and think "I'll pick that one up next time I'm here". You're at Costco, where everything is a little bit cheaper, so how could you go wrong?

We finally managed to get everything we needed for the party, and headed to the checkouts. The good thing is that Costco checkers are way more helpful than the ones at Trader Joe's. Don't get me started again. Costco likes to put your stuff in boxes instead of bags. I guess that's somehow better, but now we've got this influx of cardboard to deal with. The bulk goodies would hardly fit in the back of the wagon. As we left the equally insane parking lot, I couldn't help but wonder "is this the beginning of the end?" It might be, but I'm looking forward to that next grocery run so I can get the treadmill.