Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sample Saturday

Don't you just love Costco? Who doesn't, right? Especially on sample Saturday. So many wonderful and delicious samples to try. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Sample Saturday almost makes it worth the masses of people you have to fight through in order to get from one aisle to another.

What is it about the samples that cause people to swarm? We're like moths circling the blue glow of the electric lights and then...zap! You can always tell when someone got too close.

The problem that I see is that there are no rules when it comes to sampling. No formal etiquette. We all just kind of stand around waiting for the samples to finish cooking. Everyone just hangs around, all of us pretending to be shopping or looking at an item right next to the sample table, when in fact we have no real interest in anything but the sample. Nobody makes eye contact with one another because we don't want our cover blown. We're just trying to act as normal as a shopper can, occasionally even lifting an item from the shelf to examine it when...DING! The sample is done and everyone swarms. Children are pushed aside. Old people are trampled. It's every man for himself.

There are no rules like those on a sinking ship...women, children and the elderly first. No way. Absolutely not. I waited just like everyone else and want my sample and I'll be damned if I let someone else in before me. It's free and I'm hungry.

I also find it fascinating that we feel the need to create idle conversation with the employee behind the sample table.

"So how long should I cook this for?"

"It's on the box."

"Oh, you mean the box it comes in?"


"You don't say. Very interesting."

In our tiny little consumer minds we think our acting skills might actually convince the employee behind the table that we're actually interested and considering buying the sample. When in fact we have no intention of buying it at all. And even if we were, the employee could care less. It's not like they work on commission, so then why in the world would they care? Still, we all find ourselves in these awkward conversations and it never really occurs to us that the employee has probably heard the exact same conversation 500 times already that day.

Just once I wish someone would say what we are all really thinking.

"Look I really have no plans of buying this. I'm just hear for the free samples. So I won't bore you with any small chit chat pretending I'm interested in buying it. Really, it's better this way...for both of us. Please don't take it the wrong way because you really are doing an incredible job of handing out these samples. It's not you, it's me. It's just that I'm cheap and really only wanted to try it because it's free and I'm hungry since I didn't eat breakfast or lunch today."
I would say it myself if I wasn't afraid they might kick me out of the store.

Another thing about sample Saturday that bugs me is how uncomfortable I feel about taking a second sample from the same table. We have to act all sneaky about it by grabbing it quickly when the employee behind the table is distracted by someone else creating idle conversation. I have even come in from behind the table and grabbed the sample without even looking back so that the employee wouldn't be able to identify me. Sometimes we try to explain, thinking the person recognizes us and realizes we're taking a second sample.

"I'm just getting one for my wife. She didn't get one the first time. It looked so good she just had to try it. Really it's not for me. How long did you say to cook these for?"

I have yet to see someone reprimanded for taking more than one and yet we are afraid to do so thinking we might be the first.

"Sorry sir, only one sample per person. It's clearly written on the sign when you walk into the store. I'm going to have to ask you to hand that back please and leave the store immediately. You really should be ashamed of yourself. Taking seconds when there are starving people in China."

I have noticed a few crusty stares from other customers when doing so but I'm sure it's just because they're jealous because they wish they could have done the same but didn't have the courage to do so.

Yep, you gotta love Costco. It's really what the American dream is all about.


Allison said...

we happened to be lucky enough to hit Costco on the Thursday before the Superbowl and much to our surprise were rewarded with such a smorgasbord as I've NEVER seen at Costco on ANY Saturday! My kids call the sample people "Cooker Ladies" and we do engage in all the fake "shopping" and commenting.... I'm embarrassed to admit it. whatever it takes to get that fresh out of the oven chocolate chip cookie or piece of pizza...the chips and fruit drinks, yogurt and toast....mmmmm!

Melissa said...

Sucka! Our COSTCO does samples everyday except Monday after 11am. We are a really awesome COSTCO I guess. To answer your question, we are coming up in July- for three weeks! I know, your jumping up and down right now and can hardly contain yourself. But seriously, at least we'll have some time to hang out this time around.

Life is just too funny to be taken so seriously