Dear Costco shopper: It occurred to me last Saturday, as 200,000 of us simultaneously ran out of toilet paper and converged upon our Wholesale Mecca, that we need to get a few things straight:
You are not the only person on this planet.
Please take the first empty parking space you see. Blocking the driving lane with blinker on watching Grandpa load his '81 Pinto hatchback takes more time than if you'd left your car at home and walked.
At the entrance, have your membership card out. Waiting until the greeter asks to see it as 345 anxious people watch you dig lint and moldy tissues from the bottom of your purse is mildly inconsiderate.
Once inside, DMV rules of the road apply. Would you stop your car in the middle of a busy street, get out and walk to the sidewalk for a cup of lemonade? Then please don't do that with your cart in the middle of the main aisle for one free tortilla chip. Pull over.
This is not England. Please drive on the right side of the aisle. Keep up with the flow of traffic. No faster, no slower. Blindly cutting across four lanes because you spotted a good price on Jordache jeans is likewise ill-advised. If driving an oversized flatbed cart laden with a barbecue, sauna or Hummer, you have a greater responsibility to be careful. Our shins and ankles thank you.
When entering the main aisles, please stop and look both ways before proceeding into traffic. If your 7-year-old can do it, so can you. If you feel dizzy, contemplative or sneezy, please do us the courtesy of getting out of our way. There's a cozy day bed under that decorative gazebo in the middle of the store. Relax there.
The food wranglers hand out bite-sized processed-food snacks. Not marital advice, diamond bracelets or Lakers tickets. A microwaved beanie-weenie is not worth a 30-minute wait. Along with that $6 T-shirt, get some self-respect.
There is no difference between that 68-pack of genetically engineered chicken breasts and the other 4,000. Grab one and move on. If the 8-pound jar of almonds is not being tended to by an employee in one of the designated most inconvenient areas, it is not to be sampled.
Twelve pounds of pre-cooked bacon? Really, ma'am? Put it back.
Yes, it probably is more than you need. It doesn't matter what you're considering buying, it's more than you need. And yes, it is a better deal than Pavilions, Einstein. It's Costco.
Acceptable places to throw the chili sample cup you just sucked clean: the trash can next to the food stand, your purse or pocket. Unacceptable: on the floor in front of me.
"Excuse me," spoken politely and clearly to the back of your head means I would like to move past you. If I ram my cart repeatedly into yours, it means you are not the only person who would like to travel this aisle. Yes, speedy, the searing heat you feel on the back of your skull is my hate-filled eye laser. Make way.
Despite his seeming wisdom, the smooth-talking gent selling "nutritional" supplements is not a doctor. Tomorrow he will be hawking ShamWows at JC Penney. The only harmful "toxins" to eliminate are the ones coming out of his mouth.
The lines in the middle of the checkout area are longer. The lines to either side are shorter. If you have not figured this out yet, please go back to Smart & Final.
The register is no place to ask for a price check. There are 18 very pissed-off people behind you with crying children and weakening bladders. It's a 3-square-mile warehouse, not the corner market. In 1994, an employee went to price check a 20-pound bag of diced Guatemalan pineapple and was never heard from again.
I can see that you have only one item, sir-with-woeful-gaze. But, no. You may not cut ahead of me in line. Shopping at Costco for one item proves your self-centeredness. Suffer like the rest of us.
Before stuffing your receipt under the detritus in your handbag, please keep it out so the attendant can pretend he thoroughly examined your cart and slash a yellow line across it.
For those of you in line at the food counter outside, please be honest with yourselves. It's cheap pizza. Not good pizza. Don't confuse the two.
The giant red border painted on the ground surrounding the store is a "No Parking" zone, not a "Just Waiting for My Wife" zone. No one "is coming right out" of Costco. I saw a baby conceived and delivered during a single trip to Costco. Please find a parking place.
But don't follow me in your car as I walk to mine. This is not your college parking lot. Stalking laws apply here too. If you do, I will unwrap the 98-pack of toilet paper and load the rolls one at a time.
And lastly, dear columnist: Please don't block the entrance to the vegetable cooler typing snarky observances on your iPhone while others are trying to shop.
PATRICK CANEDAY can be reached on Facebook, at patrickcaneday.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.