This Is What It’s Like To Work At Costco

I work at Costco as an “AM Stocker.” I wake up at 3 a.m. and work until 10 a.m. You may think this is boring, physically demanding labor — it is. We move pallets, restock product, unload trucks, remove waste, clean the aisles, all in a frenzy to prepare the warehouse for opening.

I bend up and down to fill towering metal shelves with deep rows of product. One uncoordinated move and the sharp metal beam of a shelf might take a clean slice against the flesh surrounding my skull. If I lower my head and look at my feet, the prongs of a forklift racing across the aisles might impale me.

My coworker shows off a scar. It’s a semicircle in the middle of his palm: faulty boxcutter. He giggles and tells me, “that’s what happens when you work as an industrial athlete.”

As I registered his words, my vision began to blur. I felt a rush, starting in my gut and snaking its way up to my head. My ears and fingertips were buzzing. I slipped to the ground and passed out for a few moments.

When I woke up, the warehouse had become a stadium. I was suddenly aware that in just a few hours, hundreds of fans — customers — would visit the stadium, expecting to see the results of my performance as an industrial athlete.

Filled with excitement, I got to work. I stocked product with the efficiency of a swimmer. I swept aisles with the grace of a dancer. I narrowly avoided speeding forklifts with the agility of a boxer.

In an instant, my tears of boredom became the sweat of an industrial athlete.

For my generation (Z), to develop a unique “identity” has become a burden. Choice suffocates our ability to live. To find our “authentic self” is an impossible rite of passage, and we are left stranded. We can be anything. It’s all up to us — to create our own personality and career, faith and purpose, friends and community. The best of us will swallow up the whole world, make a problem of it, and then spit out a solution unique only to them.

But a desperate desire to be different is even more oppressive than forced sameness.

So what to do? Sprinkle the most mundane parts of your identity with the dust of your soul. You can do the same thing as everyone else, but change the direction of your consciousness and the world will transform before your eyes.

When I began to see myself as an industrial athlete, instead of an AM stocker working for a petty wage, reality started to vibrate.

Your identity is not a function of what you’ve done or where you’ve been — it’s something more subtle, something that shimmers within you. You don’t need to prove it, the receipts are in the air.

As a fortune cookie once reminded me — make your life an exclamation, not an explanation. Instead of scavenging around for the meaning of life, make it.

Rock bottom is the bounciest surface on earth. Keep jumping until your imagination crystallizes something for you to grasp.