Costco on a Saturday=Suburban Zombie Apocalypse Training

Living in suburbia, as I now do, is generally fairly peaceful. Yes, we have a full menagerie of unwanted animals making their home in our gigantic yard, which leaves me feeling like Snow White from time to time (although instead of singing at the animals, I’m screaming at them like an angry old man to get off my lawn). But overall, suburbia is peaceful.

Which is why we have Costco.

Because going to Costco on a weekend is the single worst thing you can do in suburbia.  

But it’s necessary. Not just because once you have a house, you need to buy all of the toilet paper in the world to fill it, but also because it’s the only training ground that we suburbanites have for the zombie apocalypse.

Your training begins in the parking lot, which closely resembles what the world will look like after most of humanity falls prey to the deadly disease that will cause zombie-ism, but before the zombies rise back from the dead. It’s a sea of abandoned cars, where it’s necessary to practice dodging around the remaining people, children running amok, wayward shopping carts, and cars filled with the elderly. Danger is everywhere.
If you have survived parking (and the torment of watching people spend nine years trying to back an SUV into a parking space…which I will NEVER understand. The whole purpose of Costco is to buy items in such quantities as to necessitate the use of your trunk. WHY WOULD YOU BACK YOUR CAR IN AND MAKE IT IMPOSSIBLE TO REACH YOUR TRUNK???), you have to show your membership card at the door. This is NOT actually to keep non-members out. The real reason they have this protective barrier at the gate is to make you think about whether you actually want to descend into the hell that is Costco on a weekend. It’s not too late to turn back yet!
Except it is, because you already parked. And it’s not worth fighting that parking lot again to come back on another day because even though Costco itself may be less crowded on a weekday, the zombified parking lot won’t be.
So in you go. Your first thought may be that you’ve entered a foreign country, which is understandable because it resembles the airport scene in Romancing the Stone.  Rest assured, you’re still in the United States, but zombie apocalypse training has begun in earnest.
 
In the early stages of the store, it’s not so bad. The zombies are just starting to turn, and unlike the crazed rage-virus/World War Z (the movie, not the book) zombies, they’re still fairly docile at this stage. And it’s time to stock up with the supplies you’ll need to survive the rest of the store/apocalypse. You can grab inordinate amounts of Ziploc bags, sponges, Kirkland-brand clothes, batteries, etc. 
But make sure you visit the sporting equipment area because you’ll need something to fight off the hordes when you get to food. I recommend a samurai sword. It’s Costco. They have them. They have everything.
The problems start as you near the baked goods. Now if you’re smart and/or paleo, you don’t eat baked goods and therefore don’t NEED to visit this section. But you have to cross it to get to the rest of the food, so you’re screwed either way. This will be your first encounter with the zombie masses
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The next stage of your training will really depend on how hungry you are when you arrive at Costco, how much willpower you have, and whether you possess any athletic ability. 
 

If you’re not hungry or have the willpower to avoid whatever delicious treat the sample lady is providing to the zombies, then this is a great opportunity for you to practice sneaking past hungry zombie herds. You have to be careful so that they don’t turn on you, but this is an important skill to possess in the zombie apocalypse. There will be times when you have to sneak past the zombies in order to survive. And you want to be able to do that without hiding in a bathtub like that Will Smith coward!

The trick is vigilance. Wait until the sample lady is JUST ABOUT to start serving something. Because if you’re standing there when she runs out of food, you’re going to become the food. And if you’re walking by when she’s serving, it’s going to feel like the running of the bulls. The zombies won’t care, they’re just going to trample you to get to the delicious serving of brains/sponge cake that’s being given out. So when the zombies begin massing toward the sample, you RUN past them. Don’t hesitate. Don’t look back. Just run. And if anyone gets in your way, that’s why you have a cart! Plow them down! It’s kill or be killed!

You’re now in the most dangerous part of the survival maze because there are sample stations everywhere. The middle of the aisles are generally safe, but you’re in serious peril at ever crossroad. And the zombies have gotten their blood sugar up from the baked goods they sampled first and are now starving and descending en masse on any sample station they can find. 
 

You’re outnumbered here. If you use the trick from baked goods of waiting until they begin serving, you’ll die. Believe me. Once the zombies know the samples are coming, they’ll rip you limb from limb to get a good spot to wait for them. I still have the scars from the time I happened to reach for a case of Greek yogurt just as the sample lady was pulling pizza bagel bites out of the toaster oven. It wasn’t pretty, and some wounds never heal.

Instead, you have to sneak past the outer perimeter of the herd while the food is being prepared. They’re in rest state at that time, as long as you don’t disturb them. If, however, you try to blend in for a sample and don’t stay on the outer perimeter, you won’t live through the day.

But, Sara, pizza bagel bites are delicious! I have to try one!

You poor, poor fool!

Okay, here goes. Remember that samurai sword or other weapon you grabbed in the sporting goods section? Strap it to your back so that you can access it, but don’t go in wielding it. If we’ve learned anything from South Park, it’s that you can’t go around decapitating zombies left and right! 

 
If you want to make it to the food, you have to blend in with the zombie throng. If you have any cold cuts in your cart, putting them on your face Silence of the Lambs style to make it look like you’re already half eaten will help. If not, any random blood will do. Rend your clothes, slow your walk to an undead amble, and mumble gibberish. If you speak another language, that’s fine to use, if not, make a lot of guttural sounds—zombies speak a language very similar to Yiddish. 
Above all, do NOT make eye contact!

Slowly follow the zombies to the food source, grab yours quickly and then run as fast and as far as you can. If you get stuck, use the sword! That’s why you have it! GO! 

Assuming you have made it this far, you’re home free! Until, that is, you get to the unending series of lines, at which point you wait. And wait. The process of which coagulates your blood until you begin to feel like one of the zombies yourself. Try not to gnaw anyone’s limbs off as they stack your things in your cart without bags. It’s the ability to keep from eating the other people that makes the distinction between us and them at this stage.
Then you’re just a sharpie mark on a receipt away from freedom! Or at least the parking lot.

And just think, you get to do it all over again next weekend.

Ah, suburbia.

The NSA wants my cell phone data? Meh. Most of it is on Facebook anyway!

So this whole “the government is going all Big Brother on us” thing is everywhere right now, and I’ve come to an important conclusion about it all.

I don’t really care.

Like I know that, as an American, I should care that my Fourth Amendment rights are potentially being violated. But honestly, I had to Google what the Fourth Amendment even was. And considering that we’re talking about an amendment written so far before the existence of cell phones that it was fifteen whole amendments before women were allowed to vote, I’m not sure that it’s actually being violated here.

In talking to a lot of my friends, I found many of them (except for the extreme righties, who are still protesting the amendment that gave my kind and people of other races the right to vote and who claim creationism is the only thing that should be taught in schools) don’t care either.


But Sara, you freaked out over all of Bush’s Homeland Security stuff! You’re such a hypocrite! You’re only saying this stuff is okay because you support Obama.

Well, you’re right and you’re wrong.

I DO support Obama. I’m the freaking poster child for supporting Obama. I own a sparkly Obama tank top.

And wore said tank top on stage with Bruce Springsteen. Because that’s how I roll.

But there are several key factors that I feel aren’t being addressed here.

For starters, I’ll admit, when the idea of Homeland Security stuff was first introduced, it sounded scary. It felt like the Harold and Kumar 2 version, where the dumbest possible people were going to look for the worst in everyone and we’d all end up with Big Bob in Guantanamo if we even said the word “bomb” within thirty miles of an airport.

Want to know how much my daily life has changed since then?

Not a whole lot. Is it annoying that I have to check my luggage to go anywhere because I’m incapable of packing my toiletries in small enough containers to carry on? Yes. But I don’t travel that often. And if we’re being entirely honest, that is the full extent to which the NSA has overall interfered with the quality of my life.

So with that said, if the government has already been monitoring my phone records without my knowledge and it hasn’t been a problem, I’m fine with them continuing to do so. If they start sending the SWAT team in every time I text my best friend that I’m going to kill my mother (which I would NEVER say, mom, honest! Please don’t hurt me!) then okay, I feel my Fourth Amendment rights are being violated.

But, at least as far as we’re being told, they’re only monitoring who people are contacting, not the content of phone calls or text messages. So the government now knows that my dad calls me every three minutes for approximately nine seconds, that my best friends and I text a lot, and that my mother calls me every single afternoon at the very second that she leaves work/as soon as I start working out. Oooooooh. Seriously important stuff here people!

The truth is though that for law-abiding citizens, cell phone records aren’t exactly super incriminating. Sure, you don’t want your significant other getting ahold of them if you’re cheating. But the government doesn’t care if you cheat. The media does, if you’re famous, but the government practically condones cheating.Hell, so many people in the government itself cheat that they’d probably cover for you, if that’s what you’re worried about!

It’s also worth noting that anyone who thinks they have any privacy, yet uses a smart phone/has a Facebook or other social media account/uses a cell phone at all for that matter, is an idiot. Even if you DON’T walk around in public having excessively loud cell phone conversations about extremely personal matters (which most of us do), it’s super easy for people to hack cell phones. Not me, because A) I don’t have those skills and B) I don’t care, but people who DO care can hear your conversations if they want to regardless of who they are/if they work for the government. And if you’re updating your Facebook with what you ate for dinner every night, you’re broadcasting your every move to the world anyway. Why do you really care if the government knows WHO you’re talking to when you’re putting all that info out there on your own?

And to be totally honest again, even if the government actually WANTS to listen to my conversations and read my text messages, it would be a HUGE waste of their time, but I don’t care that much.

Want to know what they would learn?

Here’s the conversation that my mother and I have every day.

(Phone rings) Me (without even looking at the caller ID): Hi mom.

My mom: (Depressed Eyore voice) Hi Sara.

Me: What’s up?

My mom: Ugh, I’m just leaving work. (Pause) Are you at the gym?

Me: Yup.

My mom: I should go to the gym. But I had such a long day. Blah blah work blah blah feel fat blah blah work blah blah your father blah blah work blah blah blah you’re a horrible person and fail at life blah blah.

Me: I actually had something interesting happen today. I—

My mom: I’m pulling into the garage, gotta go, bye!

Me: Sigh.

EVERY SINGLE DAY. I pity the government agent whose job it is to listen to that EVERY DAY. Really. I do. But if they want to, cool. Good for them.

And if they want to read my text messages, they’ll see a lot of conversations with Ary about the zombie apocalypse (don’t ask), a lot of emoji combinations that are code for “I’m going to jump off a building” and “I super lesbian love you” between me and Darya, messages telling the boyfriend that I’m heading to the gym and asking what he wants for dinner, and ten billion pictures of Rosie. And a bunch of pictures of Rosie pooping, which I send to the boyfriend. Yes, I’m a weirdo. But he laughs every time I send those, so it’s really okay. And he even makes up little songs about her pooping. We really are the perfect couple.

But I’m getting off track. If the government wants to see all that, then yes, they too can see pictures of my dog defecating. In fact, I’m happy to send those pictures to them if they want (I even have a few politicians topping my list of people whom I’d like to send pictures of Rosie pooping to! John Boehner, be ready!) Now if they start coming after me to see if I scoop the poop based on those pictures, I’ll start yelling about my Fourth Amendment rights, but until then, I’m cool.

Yes, I would be much more freaked if we were still in the Bush years. NOT because I’m a diehard Democrat (see pictures above) and being a hypocrite, but because I trust the Obama administration to not misinterpret what they see in my messages. I’m half convinced that the Bush administration went into Iraq over a text acronym that someone intended to mean, “Where’s My Dinner?” or something along those lines. With Obama, at least I’m not worried that an army of NSA SWAT guerrillas will come swinging in through my windows screaming about “Weapons of Terrorist Functions” if I text my best friend and ask her WTF she’s talking about when she starts saying where we should hide when the zombies come for us.

Although, maybe the government SHOULD be reading our conversations. I’d rather be safe than sorry when the zombies DO rise up. Which, according to Ary, is happening any day now.

Which actually concerns me more than Verizon’s cooperation with the government.