The nice lady offering free samples at Costco asked if I wanted to actually buy a box of the quiche I was nibbling on (after I had eaten six pieces). I’m kind of a health nut, so I didn’t purchase any; they just had way too much sodium and saturated fat.

An hour later, my Costco cart was laden with soft drinks, garbage bags, a snow tire and a year’s supply of salsa. I was in a good mood because I had managed to circle around several of the other demo tables and inhale a dozen different offerings without being fingered as a “repeat sampler.”

I went through the check-out but when I got to the exit, the employee at the door looked me over from head to toe. He was holding something behind his back.  Could it have been some kind of breath-analyzer to detect whether I had eaten too much free food? I was a little embarrassed about possibly being caught with egg on my face. I should have finished with the chicken wings instead of the quiche.

He asked me for my receipt. He never actually looked in my cart. He just peered at my list of purchases and then at me—which I think is considered facial profiling. My stress was mounting. Suddenly, he whipped out a yellow highlighter and deftly flicked off the top with one hand. Would I soon receive that sought-after stripe that squiggles down the list and shows that you have truly arrived? Actually, it shows that you have truly left.

Okay, so what’s that stripe really for? No one really checks your purchases. You could have murdered the lady behind the lunch counter for taking too long to serve your pizza, stuffed her on the bottom rack of the cart next to a 12-pack of Coors Light, and you’d still proudly make your way to the parking lot with a yellow stripe on that receipt.

Most everyone earns their stripes: shoplifters, kleptomaniacs, pilferers, little kids with DVDs in their cargo pants. But still, I think the precautionary measures at Costco are far better than at our nation’s airports. I was in Washington, DC recently and had to deal with security at Dulles. I handed the agent my ticket, showed her two pieces of identification, took off my Rockports and spread my legs. I was patted down by another agent, then herded through a metal detection device.

“You call that security?” I said to the agent. “Why don’t you guys put a yellow stripe down my ticket with a highlighter like they do at Costco?” I asked.

“Why do they do that, Sir?”

“Look, I don’t know why they do it, but they are very meticulous about it and they told me that job requires several weeks of training. Not only that,  the quiche and the egg rolls are out of this world.”

I’m going to write a letter to the TSA recommending they adopt the Costco approach to security. They may think this is a stupid idea, but here’s the truth:  At the Costco on 86th in Castleton, there has never been a hijacking.



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