Maneuvering carts at Costco is like driving

September 15, 2017 — by Katherine Zhou

Katherine Zhou drives nervous mom around Costco parking lot.

It was a typical Saturday, and I decided to take a break from the stress of senior year and college applications by going to my favorite place, Costco. With my mom in tow, I cautiously drove to the Sunnyvale Costco, cruising along Lawrence Expressway.

When we pulled into the Costco parking lot, my mom panicked when she saw almost every spot filled. We had to drive around for 20 minutes to finally find a spot. With one car waiting in the long line for Costco gas, another backing out, and yet another waiting behind me ready to take my spot, the pressure was on. My mom held her breath as I perfectly avoided the other cars, signaled and turned into the spot. I parked in the center of the spot — better than many adults around me I might add —and I was relieved that nothing had happened.

As we walked into the busy Costco, my real challenge arrived: maneuvering the cart around the crowded store. I went to an aisle to go look for a label maker my mom needed, but was stopped in “cart traffic.” Shockingly, the traffic lasted longer than any I had experienced on the road. People were also a lot more aggressive, casually bumping others to get ahead, and they seemed a lot more hurried and stressed out than I’ve seen on the highway.

I also noticed that people followed certain “rules of the road.” All of the carts going into the store went on the right side of the aisle, and all of the carts leaving went on the left. When I went around a cart to get to the cheese aisle, I was side-eyed heavily by the lady who was maneuvering it.

The worst part was going around to the busiest areas near the dairy and vegetable sections. So many carts were “parked” on the sides of the aisle, and I had to turn my increasingly heavy cart in small spaces, tight turns and in dense “traffic.”

Although I had to slide through a bunch of carts to quickly grab my black bean burgers from the frozen aisle, I was proud of how smoothly I maneuvered my cart. After we checked out and got to our car, I told my mom to drive — I had enough “driving” for the day.

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