Sunday, January 09, 2011

Let the Mall Fall Down

I feel like an alien at the mall.  I have been to a mall only a few dozen times in my life.  Every time I am there I don't know what to do.   It is like the first day at a new school, or in a new country, when you are not exactly sure where to put your bag, where the restroom is, or what to say to seem like you are supposed to be there.

This is how I find myself at the mall.  Do I talk to the overly friendly ladies at the kiosks in the middle of each hall?  Are those kiosks like mall-telemarketers?  Do I look people passing in the eye?  Do I keep to the right of the isles?

I'm not good at buying things that are fashionable or being in public with strangers.  It really doesn't matter as I don't live near a mall but still  I am riddled with insecurities when I rarely find myself there.  It is these very things that drove me to the customer restroom at the back of the Gap, in the mall several towns away.  It wasn't even the real mall restroom, it was the one for ladies who have been trying on the Gap jeans, behind the changing rooms.  The restroom is my trick.  If you are at a party or crowd with me, I will dash for the restroom just to get a grip (the life of a true introvert).

I'll back up.  I wouldn't have been at the mall, except that some people i like asked me to come with them for a flash mob singing of the Hallelujah Chorus.  I had received a few emails, and figured that type of thing wasn't for me.  It turns out, that if your friends call you, it is your type of thing.  We even had sushi, which means I was, for the most part, totally in!  I guess everyone else in Norther California also got the invite to the mall to 'secretly' sing the Hallelujah Chorus.  I love music, I love my friends, I love sushi, but I hate the mall.

It came as no surprise to me that we were all evacuated from the mall that night, as several thousand folks intending to sing, compromised the structural integrity of the mega-building.

As a person who is unfamiliar with malls, nothing happening there is a novelty.  The whole place is a novelty.  While I was in the bathroom, hiding from the "mob" portion of the flash mob, there was a  loud speaker announcement that we needed to evacuate.

I'm not a fool.  If someone tells me to evacuate, I do.  I wanna be the first person to evacuate.  I even knew where the exits were, as the crowd grew, so did my anxiety.  The voice over the speakers didn't say why we were participating in a mass exodus, rather than singing a Christmas song, but I left.  I left out a different door than the other 6 thousand folks there.  I left before all the trendies could finish purchasing their fancy jeans.  I left before a fire could burn the whole joint down (which was a problem, as the mall nearly burned all down 6 weeks prior, still not strange to the alien-who-is-me).

I participated in pandemonium.  There were folks in their cars for hours waiting to leave the mall exits.  A mall should be able to hold a person (or two) for every parking space.  My dad, who was a county planner, explained the parking lot is extra-too-big, so that when you drive by, you think the mall is not crowed, and pull in.  It turns out if every space is full, all those people will break the mall.

The Hallelujah part of the evening was who I was with, my friends, which didn't change because things didn't go as planned, and I survived a flash mob.

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