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Kicked Out of Costco

Ignite Phoenix 17 Speaker's Bootcamp by  Brandon Larkin (Creative Commons License)

Ignite Phoenix 17 Speaker’s Bootcamp by Brandon Larkin (Creative Commons License)

My friend Alan made me a white board sign – it’s two small white boards screwed to a stick of wood. It’s basically a reusable protest-style sign. I love it. It’s a fun way to make a statement without saying a word.

(I’ve been saying for years that I need a shirt that creatively conveys the message “Stay away from me” for the days that I had hate everyone but have to leave the house but it’s so creative that people want to talk to me about my shirt. Now I have a customizable sign that I can use instead.)

Rosie needed a refill on her glaucoma eye drops and our doggie ophthalmologist said that Costco pharmacy had the cheapest price, so off I went with my sign to get her meds. I don’t need to buy anything by the vat or gross, so I’m not a member of Costco. It’s a warehouse of consumerism that I usually find overwhelming. (You can use their pharmacy even if you’re not a member.)

I walked in a 9:30am when they opened to drop off her prescription. The front of my sign said, “I bite. I really do.” My friends wrote that on my sign and I left it there – but it’s true. I do bite. The back said, “Be Awesome to Everyone.” It’s always fun to watch the reactions when you violate social norms. I walked in, dropped off Rosie’s prescription, and walked out without incident.

Fast-forward three hours when I returned to pick up Rosie’s meds. It was high noon at Costco – the peak of free sample time. By then I’d changed my sign to say, “Stupid should hurt” on one side (hat tip to Improv AZ’s Fake Protest Flash Mob) and “Stop doing things you hate” on the other (hat tip to Gary Vaynerchuk). Based on the parking lot, I should have written “Cool kids return their carts.”

As I walked through the door, I think someone said, “Do you have a membership card?” to me, but I was completely oblivious to the staff. I was on a mission to get Rosie’s meds. One of them caught up with me at the pharmacy where I’d lowed my sign and was politely waiting for the tech. I think she thought I was “special needs.” She was very deliberate with her words and explaining that the store was private property and when non-members use the pharmacy, they need to be escorted, but that I couldn’t bring my sign in the store again. (She had no clue that I’m the lawyer who literally wrote the book on flash mobs and pranks.)

I finished my transaction and she escorted me out of the store. She even carried my sign for me. She seemed to soften a bit when I said I was there to get my dog’s glaucoma medication.

So now we know – when your awesome friend makes you an awesome white board sign, stores may not appreciate it as much as you, even if you’re quiet, polite, and legitimately there to make a purchase. And they might suspect you have a mental disorder.

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