21 (Tue) February 2012
-Yangjae, Seocho, Seoul, Republic of Korea-
Upon moving to Korea in 2003, I would visit Costco at least once a month, not only to shop for groceries and other miscellaneous products that were unavailable in mainstream markets but sometimes just to drop by for a slice of authentic American-style pizza. Back then, the empty warehouse seemed limited mostly to expats and people who’d lived overseas. On occasion, a newbie customer would ask me, pointing at a bottle of, say, capers, and ask “What are those for?” In the past year or so, ever since the locals figured out what to do with things like capers and realized that they could be cheaply purchased in bulk at Costco, the swarming masses have made the place intolerable. From 10 AM to 9 PM, an hour after opening to an hour before closing, at any of the locations throughout the city, the line of cars waiting to get into the parking lot stretches into adjacent neighborhoods, prompting the city to install additional traffic signals and erect barriers to maintain order. The Yangjae location even has a shuttle bus to a remote parking lot to accommodate overflow. Once inside, the lines at the registers are interminable, as if customers were shopping in preparation of the impending apocalypse. Forget it.
For the first time in over 5 months, I risked a trip. I timed the visit to 9:30 PM, thereby avoiding the crowds but leaving me with a scant 30 minutes to get what I needed. W e were out of liquid laundry detergent and paper towels. Also, along with 2 other families from DJ’s daycare, we’re scheduled for a 3-day ski trip later in the week, the plan being to prepare most of our meals in the kitchen of our residential-style hotel suite, a plan that falls entirely on me to design the menus and buy the food, and then transport and cook it — dinner, breakfast, lunch, breakfast, lunch, as well as beverages and snacks in between and booze and anju late at night, for 6 adults and 5 kids – so Costco seemed like a good start. At 10:05 PM, I swiped my credit card in the amount of 699,040 won, an all-time single-stop grocery-shopping record for me. At 10:06 PM, I received a call from W, who had seen the charge via linked text message on her phone and wanted to announce that she would be killing me when I got home.
(See also FOODS)
(See also PLACES)