Nov 24, 2012

K-Fail: Costco

This is the latest installment in a series called "K-Fails", in which Meg does something dumb because she can't speak Korean.

So... I went to Costco. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Walking into Costco was total sensory overload. My brain started overheating as I looked around. I CAN READ EVERYTHING WHAT IS HAPPENING?!?!

We were like... actually, we looked exactly like this.

Costco was overwhelming for two reasons. The obvious one was spotting deals on things we'd forgotten even existed. Like bagels. and cheese. and OH MY GOD THAT'S PUMPKIN PIE.

I went with a few other girls, which turned out to be a very wise move. The first one was that one of those girls has a Costco card, so that explains that.

As it turns out, Costco members (in Korea?) can only bring two guests in with them, but the lady apparently saw how excited we were and let all 4 of us in. This turned out to be oddly foreshadowing of our experience.

The other reason was more practical. For those of you who have never been to Costco, it's where one would shop if one had to feed an army American family. You can't just get single-person-sized versions of anything.  So we decided to divide and conquer. One person bought a bag of bagels, another bought a 3-pack of cream cheese. See what we did there? We all walked away with a reasonable number of bagels and a tub of good ol' Philadelphia.

The plan was to shop, check out, and then hit the food court for some real Costco cuisine (hot dogs).

Everything was going smoothly until we got to the front of the checkout counter. My total was about $73. I handed over my card.... and the cashier froze.

Yep. In my excitement over being at Costco, I forgot that I was... at... Costco.

For those of you who have never experienced this most American of institutions, Costco is a bit finicky about the payment types it accepts.  In America, it'll take debit cards,  but not most credit cards. However, apparently in Korea, it only accepts cash or Samsung cards.

My stomach clenched. All my cash was upstairs in the storage locker where I was forced to put all my stuff. To get back up there, I had to go through the checkout area, get on a packed escalator, push my way through the crowd to my locker, retrieve my wallet, circle around through the whole store to get to the 'down' escalator, circle around through the store to get back to the checkout area, duck under the rope, and sneak past the 50 people in line.

All of that happened while my stuff was piled up at the end of the register. 5 minutes later, I made it back, only to realize that I didn't have enough cash. At this point, the cashier just piled my stuff along the side and kept ringing people up. I shoved my way through the crowd to the ATM, got my cash, and paid.

Phew. Crisis averted... or so we thought.

We were all famished from our experiences, and were looking forward to parking the cart and sitting down for a true American dinner (again: hot dogs).

So you can imagine our surprise when we realized that there was no way to get to the food court from the checkout! We found ourselves being pushed along with the crowd back UP the escalator, and before we knew it, we were unceremoniously dumped outside the front door, into the 40-degree chill of the evening.

We looked at each other, aghast. All we wanted were some hot dogs.

We decided that two of us would stay with the cart, and the other two would venture back into the fray for snacks. My friend, R, and I fought our way through the crowd and eventually made it to the food court. That's when we realized that we had to somehow get 4 hot dogs, 4 drinks, and a chicken pot pie back up the escalator... with only 2 sets of hands. Not to mention the fact that everyone wanted different things on their hot dogs. We were going to try to bring cups of ketchup, etc. back up with us, but quickly realized that idea wasn't feasible. We ended up texting our friends to get their condiment requests, and I ducked and weaved my way BACK to the checkout line to find the same cashier who rang us up. I begged her for one of the old orange boxes they were using to put peoples' groceries in. She smiled and gave it to me.

Hoisting it over my head in triumph, I went back to R and our pile of food. We loaded up, delved into the sea of humanity heading up the escalator, and finally delivered the food to our eagerly waiting friends.

I'm sure, had we been able to read Korean better, we would have realized that we couldn't use our cards, and couldn't reach the food court after we'd checked out. I've never worked so hard for a hot dog.


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