If it ain’t broke

I zoomed around the corner, footloose, and fancy free (meaning I only had one of my three kids hanging on me) at Costco. I even started humming a little happy tune when I ran smack into the gridlock of carts. The lines sprawled out like jagged tentacles of a six-headed beast. It was 11am on a Wednesday, how on earth could it be this busy?  A brave man sporting his red uniform shirt emerged through the madness and announced that the credit card machines weren’t working, so it would be cash and check only for the next 30 minutes or so until they could get them back up and running. Cue the eye rolls, grunts, scoffs, and pandemonium. Mounded carts began to clunk and scurry as people made their way to the one and only cash machine. One guy straight up left his cart where it was and just walked right out of the store. I couldn’t blame him. It was like a terrible game of bumper cars. I reached for my wallet to see if I had my checkbook and assess whether my loading and pushing this 700 pound cart with a fussy baby on my hip was in vain, but of course my bag was buried under the rubble of giant cereal boxes and jars of olives that were almost as big as my nine month old. I finally unearthed my bag and felt a wave of relief to see that I had one check left. People make fun of me for still using checks, but I felt a slight vindication as I pushed my way through the clearing and smirked at the mile-long ATM line.

“Costco card, please” a voice cut through my smugness. I reached into my back pocket, but it was empty. I frantically checked my other pocket, empty. I swapped my baby onto the other hip and dug through my front pockets, but still nothing. The clerk tried to smile patiently, but I knew what he really wanted to say, “You had over 20 minutes to get your card ready, and yet here we are…still waiting.” I tossed everything out of the bag. Diapers, wipes, bibs, but no card. I remembered pulling my phone out of my pocket to read a text and now guessed that my card probably fell out at the same time. I stared back at him, defeated and flustered with my boob still partially hanging out of my shirt from when I nursed my son minutes prior while simultaneously balancing 20 rolls of paper towels on my overstuffed cart.

Maybe he was just happy he wasn’t me in that moment, but he seemed to perk up a bit and nonchalantly said, “Don’t worry about it, we will ring you through and then you can get a new card next time you come in.”  I should have felt relieved, but I still felt panicked. I paid and wheeled my cart towards the exit but just couldn’t shake the feeling of my perfectly good  membership card laying on the cold cement floor along with the hour of my life that I will lose waiting in line to get its replacement. I couldn’t bear it, so I asked the attendant who checks the receipts if I could leave my cart there and run back in to look for my card. She raised her eyebrows looking at my baby trying to wriggle his way out of my arms. “Are you sure?” she said, eyebrows still raised. “You know, when my kids were small, I went through, like, twenty Costco cards, they are easy to lose in this chaos,” she said, motioning to my writhing child. While I appreciated the solidarity, I couldn’t accept it, and back into the mouth of dragon I went, eyes fixed on the ground.  After ten minutes of fruitless searching, my baby ran out of patience, and I had to give up. “Any luck?” she asked when I came to retrieve my groceries. “Nope.”  “Well, don’t beat yourself up. If you get here right at 8:30 on Tuesdays, the customer service lines are the shortest.” I thanked her and quickly loaded my car so I could pick up my daughter at school.

It’s amazing the spiral effect that can happen from something as simple as a lost membership card, but since that day, I have started to realize that I have an aversion to ‘new.’  As a self-proclaimed nostalgic, I must have known it all along, but for some reason this discovery has taken me by surprise. I mean, I married by college sweetheart (best decision of my life by the way), only applied to one university, accepted my second job out of college and have been there for 14 years. We bought our home just before our first son was born, and although our growing family threatens to burst through its walls, I can’t even entertain the idea of moving. Our chimney is wrapped in plastic to prevent a pesky leak, our dishwasher latch is broken making it so you have to close it JUST RIGHT in order for it to turn on, and when my aunt generously offered to buy us a new coffee maker because the one we got as a wedding gift over a decade ago has a loose part that needs to be jury rigged in order to brew, I barked at her that there was no need because it works just fine.

I now find myself contemplating the fine line between comfort and complacency. Sure, some of my hesitancy to fix or refresh things comes from a financial limitation, some of it stems from a concern for the environment and a desire not to waste, and the remainder is somewhere between stubbornness and lack of time. I know the saying is, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,”  but what if it’s just slightly broken? Isn’t there also the phrase to live by, “nothing is perfect”?  I swear, sometimes it feels like my whole life is held together with Scotch tape, and apparently that is just how I like it.

Marissa B. Niranjan may not be ready to turn over a new leaf, but she is excited to peek under it.

P.S. If anyone finds her card at the Shoreline Costco, please send it back to her. Just kidding, she’s totally cool with getting a new one.

(But no, seriously, please send it back).  🙂M and R


  1. Last paragraph…Socrates philosophy worthy musings and questions tucked into a funny, engaging contemporary story. It just doesn’t get any better than that!
    By the way…your arguments against a new coffee maker were totally persuasive and this aunt now believes it was a very bad idea for many reasons!

    Liked by 1 person

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