Since moving out of the big city, I’ve found very few occasions to visit a mall. This is good in that I’m slowly divesting myself of shit I don’t need. However in those instances where I do legitimately need something, I am finding the mall a daunting, foreign place full of fanatical bargain hunters and teens dressed clothing made for dolls.
In a world where I am able to get pretty much everything I need (and don’t need) online, I very rarely find it necessary to go to a shopping centre. When it becomes unavoidable, I’m usually with two small children who like shopping even less than I do, and who make a point of letting me know that as loudly and as frequently as possible.
Just recently I was liberated from the screaming necktie I call my toddler and his diva sister counterpart who wants EVERYTHING she sees, and was offered the opportunity to have a day of shopping alone. I love my kids. I don’t love shopping with my kids.
Prior to embarking on this adventure I was excited. It had been a long time since I’d had a day to myself to get things done without the whining that usually accompanies my 5 yr old on errands. I spent the weeks leading up to it planning my shopping list so as not to forget anything, and I was ready. I was so ready.
Until I got to the mall.
Now I haven’t lived outside of the big city for that long, but getting hit in the face with the shameless commercialism of a giant mall is overwhelming if you haven’t dealt with it in months. If I hadn’t had a list, I would have walked around in a daze of neon pants and ugly hats for an eternity. It’s like some kind of fairy kingdom where you lose time and come out years later.
Before I found my way out again, I made a number of observations that I presume I had ignored or repressed during my days of having a mall only a stone’s throw away from where I lived.
Firstly, teenagers (and I’m sure there are exceptions) are blind. I have to assume that they get up in the morning, stumble unwittingly into their younger sibling’s closet, and accidentally put on their clothing, as everything is size tiny and hideously patterned.
One girl came out of the dressing room in what was possibly the shortest dress I’ve ever seen. It might have been a top. It should have been a top. I desperately wanted to go up to her and say “Excuse me, but your vagina is showing”.
Now I like short skirts. I’m not 109 years old and getting my sensibilities offended, and I’m not saying that we need to get out the ruler and measure fabric distance from the ankle before leaving the house. That said I think most of us would agree that if your clitoris is visible, your dress might be too short.
The next thing that really jumped out at me was how terrible the clothing actually was. The fabric was some combination of cheap, scratchy, and stiff, the neon patterns induced seizures, and there were way too many appalling floral prints. Now I know that 1990’s fashion (and I use the term fashion ironically) has been creeping back for a while now, but seriously? As a teenager I used to get near identical clothing in Mariposa.
This takes me back to my first point about teenagers being blind. I look back at photos of myself in the actual 90’s and am horrified by what I considered wearable. Apparently the fashion sense of this age group hasn’t improved much since then.
Finally, I think customer service has really started to phone it in. I realize that disenchanted students staff most of the stores, and they are pretty much just following the script given to them, but can we all at least agree to aim for a bar that’s a little bit higher?
I walked into a store that sold nothing but flip flops. Not shoes, not a variety of sandals, JUST flip flops. The girl looked up at me and said hello, how am I, etc (This is good, greet customers, high five). I get 10 steps in and she looks at me and asks if there was something specific I was looking for?
I could only buy flip flops in this store. What kind of specificity was she looking for exactly? While this was probably just what she was supposed to say, I found it hysterically funny. I was tempted to ask if she carried flip flops just to see what her reaction was.
Suffice to say I left the mall losing 3 hours of my life I couldn’t get back. I can’t believe that there was a time in my life that “going to the mall” was an actual activity. At some point in my life, this even constituted a dating situation. So sad.
On the up side, I did manage to achieve some level of shopping success, and while it was trying, at least it was free of wailing toddlers and 5 year olds asking me why that person over there has such ugly hair. Loudly.
Next shopping trip: online.