Friday, May 29, 2009

Buying Bulk

One thing you do not do when you live in New York City is buy bulk; well, some people might, but generally not those of us who are renting cramped apartments. I have lived in big cities almost all my life, and mostly in small spaces. This suits me fine. Yes, occasionally I would really like to have more room to eat, sleep, breathe in. There are problems with clothes not fitting in the closets and where to store things like in-line skates. Only recently have my husband and I managed to upgrade to a place that has, while not really a dining room, at least something resembling an alcove that's reserved for meals; it's more than just a table in the corner of the living room. Living and eating are, in terms of spatial relation, finally separate in our home (psychically they still often seem the same, though). This is luxury. Anyway, the point is that there's just no room to store extras, and even the one box of . . . let's say cereal . . . had better be the small and not the "economy" size, because otherwise it doesn't fit in the cupboard, and there's not enough counter space to leave it sitting out. You get the picture. While I was growing up, it was often the same situation, and even when it wasn't—that is, when we had enough space to store extras, backups, spares—still my parents never bought bulk. I guess it's also typical of families with only one child. So I was clueless about such places as Costco or Sam's Club, until I moved to St. Louis. I remember that a friend—male; someone who should have stayed just a friend, but who ended up a botched boyfriend for a while (one of those mistakes you know you're making but that you are powerless to stop)—this friend found out that there was a Sam's Club not far away, and he convinced me to become a member with him. There were rules about who could join. I don't know if it was that we were supposed to be a household, or we were allowed to join because of his student status (I had left law school by then, but he was still enrolled), or what the deal was. We had to be judicious in how we filled out the forms, though, that I recall. However we joined, we joined. I remember signing at the membership or customer service desk, remember getting our Sam's Club cards. We were proud of ourselves. We thought we'd scored big, because we could save a lot of money when we shopped, which is of course a prime concern for anyone on a grad-school or a paid-in-experience intern's budget. But there was one problem: there were a lot of items we couldn't buy. Nothing perishable, that was for sure, though I marveled at the huge containers and packages of everything from chicken to Cool Whip. We simply couldn't go through any of this fast enough, not even when we split the take (don't remember why freezing wouldn't work, but it wouldn't). So we stuck to things like paper towels, toilet paper, and the other item I remember: giant boxes of Corn Flakes. Never before, never since have I eaten so many Corn Flakes, bowl after bowl after bowl. The box contents never seemed to be depleted, and I think that was the last straw for me. I saw myself projected into the future, living with the same person (we may as well have been living together, we were always at his place or mine), having the same conversations and the same arguments, eating from the same box of cereal and eventually—because at some point the box was going to be empty, right?—heading back to Sam's Club to shop for more. I saw a nice, Midwestern, domestic routine of bulk groceries, space to store them, plus the children most likely necessary to make the jumbo packaging worth it, and I just knew . . . I'd never be happy like that. No, guess I'm just a small-batch kind of gal.

1 comment:

  1. i must include this link in an upcoming post about storage space