I should really consider myself lucky. I mean, I was driving around in a car that had a tire with a fairly big puncture hole. For a while instead of just replacing it, I just kept the air compressor in my back seat and filled the thing up every couple of weeks. It worked out fairly well, but I knew that I would need to get the tire replaced before winter rolled around. So this last weekend I went to the Sears Autocare Center (Hey, if I want to to pretend to be a man I have to do manly shit like go to Sears). They told me it would be a little over an hour to complete the work on my car, and that they would give me a call when the work was completed. So, instead of sitting around in the waiting room of the service shop, I decided to walk across the parking lot and go to the mall that was right there.
Walking into the mall was, for lack of a better phrase, a fucking trip. I haven’t really been in a mall for anything other than new glasses or over-priced Apple shit in probably close to five years. I have forgotten how strange these places can be. And strange is really the only thing you can call a mall, because the mall is the only place in the world that people will set aside a couple of hours for, and then within twenty minutes of starting the day the only thing they want to do is just get the fuck out of there.
The first thing that I wanted to do was to find a restroom. Like any mall, I figured that they would be in the food court (they were). But the restrooms are the least of the interesting aspects of this endeavor. The food court was a pathetic excuse for a source of nourishment. I mean, there wasn’t a single dollar menu in the entire place. Not that I’m a big fan of the kind of food that comes from the kind of place that has a dollar menu, but it seems to me that dollar menus are perfectly suited for malls. The food is usually something that you can usually eat on the go, small enough for you to finish by the time you get into the next store, and makes you shit about 45 minutes later, bringing you back to the food court where it all began. But as if that’s not enough for me to hate the food courts at the mall, I looked around at the other options for food. It’s astonishing how every mall has literally the same exact shitty food that the next one does. Of course everyone knows about Auntie Anne’s Pretzels and CinnaBonn. But when you dig deeper, you will find the Rocky Rococo, the Arby’s, the place that serves steak (who the fuck says, “You know, I could really go for a steak. Let’s go to the mall. No, it’s cool, it’s 6:00 PM, they usually clean up the food court around 5:30ish. So basically, as long as you don’t eat near the Sbarro the floors won’t be sticky and it doesn’t stink as much because there aren’t any babies because the mom’s all had to drop them off the babysitter because Valium usually can’t last all day normally, let alone a full day at the mall.”), and of course that less-than-trustworthy stir-fry place (You want me to eat Chinese food? Fine, as long as it isn’t prepared by 17-year-old girls from the suburbs who can’t even pronounce General Tso’s Chicken correctly). Literally every mall has those same exact places. And literally the same exact people go to those same places in every mall: 5% mall employees who are on their break in the middle of a double shift, 20% kids on dates who don’t know what a real date is, 20% single mothers, and 55% disgusting slobs.
Food court aside, there is another very disturbing aspect of malls in general. This particular phenomenon is visible everywhere, but at the mall, it shines. I’m talking, of course, about weird people. Not the some-guy-writing-a-blog-pretending-to-be-a-panda-so-he-can-feel-like-he’s-being-a-productive-member-of-society-but-knows-he-isn’t weird, but the start-a-conversation-with-a-complete-stranger-but-not-actually-be-looking-them-in-the-eye weird. I mean, you’ve got the people who go to the mall to do nothing but walk in fucking circles, you’ve got the people who act like they know you and try to start a conversation with you when you’re standing in line (please, people who do this, stop frontin’), you’ve got the people who walk around and try to stop you when you’re going about your day and minding your own business to get you to take a survey, and then you got the people who sit. They don’t really do anything. They just sit. I’m pretty sure they’re there 24/7, because I’ve never seen any of them get up or actually partake in the process of sitting down. Maybe it’s just a ruse by the people who own the mall to say, “We have seating in case you need to sit down for a moment, rest, wait to meet up with your family, or to wait and figure out if the food court meal you ate a half-hour ago is coming out early or if it’s just a fart,” and then they just have some old folks come in and sit. They probably don’t even pay them (well, maybe they give them the leftover food from the food court, which would explain why the bathrooms at the mall always smell like shit, even in the morning before anyone even uses them). And of course you can’t ask them to move, they’re old. They’ve got the walkers and those fucking big-ass-cover-half-your-face sunglasses to prove it.
But all of that pales in comparison to my biggest issue with the mall and human society: how and why the hell do humans find the mall to be fun? I mean, everyone from teenagers to old folks go to the mall to waste their Saturdays and their “sick” days, and spend hours and hours there. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I used to think the mall was awesome. I would try to transform almost any social outing with friends into a day at the mall. But that wasn’t because I thought it was fun, it’s because, as a panda, I had never seen anything like this place in my life. I mean, you humans just have a giant building with all these different stores that have absolutely nothing in common with each other and a bunch of kiosks that are filled with second-rate, made-in-China shit, and in the winter, every fucking year, you people pay some fatass to sit in a red suit in the middle of the mall and have your children sit in his lap as he whispers sweet nothings into their ears (“Oh, I bet you’ve been a bad girl”). I mean, just look at what a trip to the mall looks like normally. For the most part, you park your car a quarter-mile away from the closest set of doors, walk into the mall, try to not make eye contact with the poor people at the shoe shine booth, walk half the length of the mall to find an up escalator, walk to where the store is supposed to be, remember it’s on the first floor, go to the first floor, get stuck behind a group of slow walking dumbass teenage boys who think that they’re hot shit as they walk out of Spencer’s Gifts in their TapOut shirts and exposed plaid boxers (even though everyone in the mall knows their not because no matter how many times they say, “she looks like this one chick I nailed,” you know they’ve probably never even touched a breast and the most sexually advanced situation they’ve ever been in was just last week when they first tried masturbating in the shower), then you get to the store you wanted to go to, but it’s crowded, so you grab the one thing you need and sit in line for 20 minutes and then book it to your car. And you humans find this shit fun.
Fun? Screw that. If we could live in a place without a single Hot Topic, I feel the world might be a better place. And to be honest, how has Yankee Candle not been busted yet? A chain store that stays afloat selling nothing but candles? Please, that shit has to be a front for some kind of shenanigans. “LOOK AT THIS KIOSK. A GREEN BAY PACKERS CELL PHONE CASE FOR $20? FUCK YEAH!” Fuck no. I’m not saying you all shouldn’t go to the mall, but I’m just saying you should all stop pretending that you want to, because we all know it sucks.
Take it easy,