Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Zen of Costco

I walked into Costco and bought a piano.

Okay, I didn't buy the piano but I thought about it. You know you would have too. It's Costco people.

I've been in this country for 3 months now and my pants were on fire to check out the big box store, so on a whim I printed off directions, strapped Kawaii Girl #2 into the backseat and chose the hardest possible route to get there. For reasons that defy common sense, I opted to suffer my way through the narrow and trafficy streets of Yokohama, on a 45 minute drive vs. a 20 minute, quick and straight shot on the toll roads.

I did it for the adventure. An adventure is what I got.

This is the farthest I have driven from the base and before I even started the car, I read and memorized how to get there, complete with drawings of landmarks. I knew to be on the lookout for a Colonel Sanders, of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame, tucked on the side of a building where I was to make my first turn. Kawaii Girl #2 started in on me and after a brief discussion of her losing her after-nap graham crackers dipped in Nutella, I never heard a peep from her again. With that squared away, I started to panic a little...crap, the directions said to turn in 9 kilometers, what was that conversion again?? My palms started to sweat and my eyes started to go cross as I kept glancing from the road to the directions to the rearview mirrors and back to the directions. Ahh, is that chicken I smell? I made my first turn.

The rest of the drive was more relaxed until the directions didn't quite mesh with the actual street I was on. I kept driving deeper and deeper into an industrial area and my language reflected that of a stereotypical American truck driver. Why didn't I take that toll road? After a quick sumimasen (excuse me) I somehow figured out how to ask where Costco was and when the truck driver pointed across the street to the large and familiar looking warehouse, I laughed out loud, a mixture of relief and glee. I bowed and made my way up to the rooftop parking. I may be in Japan, but for this moment, I was home.

Some things that made this Costco unique:

On the way from the parking lot to the store, the downward sloped people mover that magnetically locked the cart in place so it wouldn't roll away. Kawaii Girl #2 began to hold on for dear life when she saw me take my hands off the cart to take the picture. Really, the cart didn't budge a bit. Very cool!

Local fare

Butter in a tube and grated cool! Forget Buddha, Gouda is my inner peace.

And the reason you go to Costco:

The gadgets...and the muffins...heaven!

I went for chicken breasts and left with enough bread and croissants to overflow my freezer but just enough to satisfy me until my next trip out here. So I didn't walk away with the piano, it was tempting, but equally challenging, I am now faced with where to put the 10-pack of paper towels.


Katie said...

Costco is my mecca!