THE BLOG
09/28/2015 10:57 am ET Updated Sep 28, 2016

I'm With Stupid: The Tragic Costco of the Free-Nutella War

It was my 10th wedding anniversary last week, so I would like to start by thanking my beautiful wife for this column idea and her love and reminding her that she is simultaneously the hardest-working person I know, the best mom I know and tied at No. 1 for the most important person in my life, even if I need to be reminded of it every now and then. Happy anniversary, P.J. I love you.

But anyway, the story that my wife pointed out to me was too awesome not to be a column right away, so I set aside what I was working on -- no doubt some sober, Pulitzer-worthy treatise on one of the pressing issues of the day -- and immediately changed tack.

Before we get to the story, however, a little background: I fell in love with Costco back in Connecticut at a store near where my parents live. And it wasn't all the stuff you could buy that I fell in love with. My house isn't big enough to store anything you can get at Costco, anyway.

No, what got me hooked -- long before I discovered the chicken bake at the snack bar -- were all the free samples the place was giving out. You could barely make it around the store once trying everything they had. It was a smorgasbord. It was practically the Sunday brunch at the Broadmoor, which is tied with the King Neptune Buffet for the greatest thing ever.

So, naturally, when Costco opened a location an hour from me, I became a member -- and I've been one ever since -- for two reasons: to go and browse while I pretend to be shopping for stuff and, as it turns out, to buy the two-pack of the big Nutella jars, which seem to be the only thing I'm guaranteed to get each time I go.

I have to say, on the first point -- the free samples -- I'm a little disappointed in the Gypsum Costco. It really needs to up its game. I have to make about five or six laps of the place just to fill up. It's almost like exercise, which is definitely not why I'm at Costco.

As to the second point -- the Nutella -- that's where our story begins.

Apparently, a 78-year-old man was assaulted the other day at a Costco in California when he got into an argument with a 24-year-old man who he thought was taking too many samples of Nutella waffles. The old man claimed he was reaching for a sample when the young guy swooped in and grabbed all the remaining ones, and when the old man griped about it, the younger guy punched him in the face.

Wow. I think that if you're only 24 and your life has come down to stealing free samples from old men and then punching them in the face over it, you need to re-examine your priorities. So I'd like to help by speaking to the young man directly:

Look, 24-year-old guy, we all know where you're coming from. We all want to stand there and just eat all the samples on every tray like some billionaire. Who doesn't want that? But you have to make your laps because that's the way things are done. Proper Costco etiquette demands it.

And I don't know the circumstances of the argument that ensued after you tried to bogart all the waffles -- whether the old guy called your mother a donkey rapist or whatever -- but there's really never a good excuse to punch a 78-year-old in the face. There's a crime called elder abuse for that very reason, and that's the crime you're going to be charged with. Good luck in the court system.

As far as stealing free samples, I don't imagine you'll be charged with that, as it's probably not a crime, although maybe it should be. But you still can't do it anyway because then you force the lady giving out the samples to look mean by telling you they're supposed to be one per customer.

Although, actually, to be honest, you probably could win that argument. If it were me and the lady told me to knock it off, I'd be like, "Look, lady. I paid my $50. I'm a member, damn it. The least you can do is let me stand here and stuff my face with Nutella."

Of course, if she continued to chastise me for taking too many, you know what I wouldn't do? Punch her in the face.

Todd Hartley thinks Nutella might be the greatest thing Italy has ever produced. To read more or leave a comment, please visit zerobudget.net.