The other day I had a really good hot dog for lunch at a store called Costco, where my wife and I went to save money on groceries.
As nearly as I can estimate, the hot dog cost me $177.23.
But then, Costco is not exactly your neighborhood supermarket. It’s a cult with 64 million devout members in nine countries who faithfully shop at its 600 warehouses and testify that they save huge amounts of money.
So, because we both are fans of saving huge amounts of money, we drive to the Costco nearest to us, which is 38.7 miles away. Or $14 for gas, round trip. And before we can start saving huge amounts of money, we have to buy a Costco membership, which costs $55.
All that money-saving makes us hungry, so the first thing we do is stop at a Costco counter that sells hot dogs and pizzas. My hot dog costs $1.50. Her slice of pizza is $2.
By the time I’ve finished my hot dog I’m impatient to get to the grocery shopping part, even though I don’t know how much more money-saving we can afford.
To get to the grocery section we have to pass through a bunch of other sections, because Costco sells just about everything from cruises to caskets. “You can go stupid crazy buying crap you don’t need,” is how one member put it.
So our first stop is at the jewelry department, where my wife spots a diamond ring for $7,500. Fortunately she is not the kind of woman who would want a diamond from a grocery warehouse. Although, if the diamond were big enough, she’d probably accept one I’d bought at a gas station.
Eventually we make it to the grocery area, where I discover that Costco is not the kind of place you pop in for a loaf of bread and a quart of milk. You go there to buy a shipping pallet of bread and a cow. (You can’t actually buy a cow at Costco. But, if you could, she probably would come shrink-wrapped with five other cows).
As another member noted, it’s a place where you can save money but, “You just have to buy, you know, a lot of it.”
Two hours later we push our cart to the checkout line. It contains a jug of olive oil I can barely lift, a cheese Danish the size of Copenhagen and various paper products, including a supply of tissues that will allow us to blow our noses as often as we like for the rest of our lives.
The bill comes to $104.73.
But the hot dog was really good.