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July 16, 2015


A few days ago, I went to Costco at 9:50 a.m. arriving ten minutes before it opened. Listening to a podcast as I waited in the car, I looked up to see the doors being slowly raised. I got out of the car and approached the store realizing that there must have been 50 people in a line that stretched to the right reaching almost to the gas station. Some folks were milling around in front of the doors, but not very many. Most of the customers and their carts were patiently waiting in this very long, quiet, and orderly queue. I thought, "Why do people wait in long lines to get into Costco before it opens?" It is not the first time I've experienced this phenomena, and I still fail to understand it.

Nothing is on sale. I see no reason to line up in your order of arrival although it may be a polite thing to do. Since more than one person can enter the store at the same time, why weren't they forming two lines? Or they could all be mingling around the entrance. They could have sat in their car until the doors opened. But, hordes of people arrive early and get into a long line before the store opens its doors. I was there because I couldn't remember if it opened at 9:30 or 10:00. Was that the case with the others?

Every time I've arrived early at Costco, I've seen the same large number of people standing in the same orderly single file lineup. Earlier, I thought it was a Canadian thing, but with the difference in the exchange these days, I doubt I could blame this behavior on the politeness or mores of our northern neighbors.

On a lark, I decided to ask some of the people why they were standing in line. The first time I said, "Why are so many people standing in line to get into Costco?" A woman looked at me as if I was crazy. Then, I asked another. "Why are we standing in line?" Maybe the "we" pronoun would not be so threatening. Again I got a weird stare. What seemed obvious to them escaped me. Or, maybe they just were following the crowd and thought I shouldn't question the majority decision. In any case, I felt like a crazy outsider who just didn't understand.

The doors were finally raised all the way. At this point, I had been waiting by the carts for the people in line to finish entering the store in their orderly fashion. God forbid that I should break in when it wasn't my turn. But, a lovely young woman stopped and invited me to go in front of her. I declined, but she insisted. So, much to the chagrin of the elderly man behind her, I stepped into that line at the midway point and entered Costco. I grabbed the few things I wanted and found the checkout quite reasonable at that time of day. Do you suppose that the people who stand in line expect to avoid the long checkout lines at the other end of their shopping experience?

I continue to search for understanding!

Posted by Marilyn at July 16, 2015 12:45 PM


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