Comparison Shopping

Well, there I was. Off from work for a week and with a few hours to kill on a Tuesday. So, I decided to go casket-shopping. It’s one of those activities that you cannot wait to do when the need arises.

You might be surprised at the range of features and prices of caskets nowadays. I remember back in the 80s, when you might have had 3 or 4 models from which to choose in the funeral home “showroom”. Not the case anymore. In fact, I found less options and packages while shopping recently for a Toyota minivan.

I also learned that caskets are more than just a vessel for your rotting flesh. They are supposed to reflect the lifestyle in which you lived, or more accurately, the lifestyle in which you wished you lived. That’s right, you may have led a simple, spartan life while you were alive, but there’s no reason you cannot emulate an Egyptian pharaoh after you kick the bucket.

To that end, I present my top 3 choices for caskets (along with the verbatim copy from the funeral home catalog):

1. The Eldorado - Leave this word in style and opulence! Make your friends and enemies jealous with this sumptuous body-box! Your pall-bearers will gasp in awe as they grab onto solid gold handles, double-reinforced to prevent accidental dissembly and the subsequent humiliation that comes with crashing to the floor and spilling out onto the feet of your mourners. Also fully lined with cushy bunting to make your ascension to the pearly gates as comfy as possible. Remember, it’s not just the destination, it’s also the ride! Only $30,000.

2. The Arcadia - So, you’re not the outdoorsy type. In fact, fresh air gives you the hives. But that’s no reason to forego this all-terrain casket that just screams, "I wrestle bears in my spare time!" Made from gnarled mahogany, this full-sized beast of a casket weighs in at a massive 300lbs. requiring only the burliest of pall-bearers to carry it past your loved ones and into that SUV hearse you had to rent. And don’t forget, each of our Arcadia caskets are manufactured in the good ol’ USA by registered Libertarians and gun-lovers. A steal at $27,000.

3. The Porsche - Were you safe, conservative and pokey in life? Well, be fast and furious in death!Aerodynamically designed and crafted, this casket is built to move! And its interior can be had in “speeding-ticket red” or “midnight-rendezvous black”, the latter being particularly slimming for you full-figured cadavers. Other details include polished chrome hinges and handles, and at an additional cost, a racing stripe down the top. Mmmmm, racy! These bad boys are literally flying out of the showroom at a very reasonable $42,000.

Black Friday For Grocery Shopping

That’s what I call my Costco visit the Saturday before Thanksgiving. But I’ve studied the martial arts and am well versed in self-defense. So I’m not afraid of a crowded shopping experience.

Or am I?

I knew I was in trouble when I first attempted to pull into the parking lot. Have you ever seen a demolition derby with cars wheeling around in random directions? What about shoppers diving for safety like Rodeo clowns? As for me, I actually was glad to have 2 tons of steel separating me from the rest of the crazed morons thinking we can actually get some shopping done today.

The experience inside the store was remarkably similar to the aforementioned experience in the parking lot. Except for the lack of motorized vehicles (unless you count people in motorized shopping carts…and you should). I don’t know what it is, but Costco shopping causes me to undergo some kind of reverse evolution where I revert to a more primitive form. I actually found myself intentionally crashing my cart into another that I felt was protruding into the aisle at more than an acceptable angle. I think this is how neanderthals shopped tens of thousands of years ago.

I tend to visit Costco at lunchtime, when it is less crowded (I know. I laughed when I typed that, too.). While this usually is a good strategy, the downside is that I start to get quite hungry at the 2/3 point. No matter; I’ll just visit one of those tasting stations, right? As I got closer to the Marinated Alaskan Wild Salmon kiosk (and man, did it smelled great), I was greeted by an exhausted “chef” who informed me it would be a full 15 minutes before another batch was made. Don’t worry, I don’t think they’ll find the body.

In the end, I managed to find approximately 98% of what was on my list (No shredded mozzarella or individual hummus packs?! Not cool, Costco). Perhaps it’s for the best. As it is, I now have to figure out how to tell my daughter that I just spent her next semester’s tuition at a pricey, private college. No matter; who needs higher education when you have 6 cases of baby wipes and no baby?

Scene From A Mall - reprise

  • Me: I am in the market for a new watch.
  • Salesman: (takes out several models) Well, how about one of these ...
  • Me: Ugh. The watch faces are entirely too big. They will overwhelm my rather skinny wrist.
  • Salesman: I'm sorry, sir. But that is the current style.
  • Me: Are there any watches with a smaller face there are more in proportion with a skinny wrist on an otherwise manly man?
  • Salesman: I'm sorry sir. There are none.
  • Me: Why...why that's WRISTIST!
  • Salesman: Yes, sir. Very clever, sir. Will there be anything else?
  • Me: Nope. 'Wristist' was all I got.

Ah, The Joys Of Wholesale Shopping

Another extended weekend, another foray into the consumer abyss I un-affectionately call ‘Costco’.

I’ve written about Costco before, and why not? There’s the absurdity of buying items so large and unwieldy that you must also buy a crane in order to move it into your cart. And don’t think you can’t buy a crane there, either. That’s the second surreal facet of the Costco experience—there are no limits to the type of items you can find there for purchase.

As an experiment, I once decided to create a Costco shopping list by first conducting a series of random image searches on Google. Here were the results:

1. A kayak
2. Uranium ore
3. E. Coli (magnified 300x)
4. The state of Wisconsin
5. A 19-year-old girl, likely drunk, sporting “duck lips” and flashing a sideways peace sign
6. Lady GaGa
7. The Space Shuttle

And with this list, I set off to shop. Just to make it more challenging, I gave myself a 90-minute time limit. Not because it made it more difficult to find the items but because it gave me a valid excuse to barrel over and through those aisle-hogs who seem to prefer the absolute center of narrow places.

In the end, I have to admit that the final results were mixed. Here’s an item-by-item report:

1. That was easy. There were 6 of them on sale as soon as I walked into the place. Gotta make room for the Xmas decorations coming in next week, you know.

2. A little difficult to find. But noticed some right next to the contact lens cleaning solution in Aisle 2 — Health and Beauty Aids and Radioactive Materials. Of course. Silly me.

3. Due to my time of arrival, I decided to eat at the food court. Now we wait and see…

4. A salesperson claimed they were out of stock and instead suggested I buy a 24lb. wheel of cheese. Seemed like good advice.

5. Oh man, what I would’ve given to find THAT thereER, WHEN I WAS 19 I MEAN

6. Didn’t find one on the shelves but saw one being returned on my way out. I guess I’ll have to wait for the reboxing.

7. Saw the bubble-packaging, but I guess to discourage shoplifting, you have to take it to a room in the back of the place where they present you with the actual item. A little inconvenient, I think, particularly if you are in a hurry.