Colliding Strollers, Albino Families, and Dressing Room Thieves–In Other Words, the Strange Experiences I’ve Had At Malls

30 04 2010

I was out shopping yesterday, when I saw the oddest thing: a young mother, carrying a baby in one arm and a dog in the other arm. While attempting to shop. And talk on a cell phone.  

The kicker to this all? We were at TJ Maxx.  

Ok--Mischa Barton can actually pay for the things her dogs may piddle on while at the mall...

It might be one thing if I saw this in an upscale department store in Orange County. Or Vegas.  

But seriously–a TJ Maxx in St. Louis? Who are we trying to kid here?  

I tend to think that you should only bring your dog shopping with you for one of the following reasons:  

 A) You actually need a service dog  

B) You have enough money to pay for whatever your dog urinates on with cash  

C) You’re shopping for your dog (which puts you in a class of your own–a special one, where they have cute little white jackets just for you)  

This serious breach of petiquette only served to remind me of the other very odd things I’ve seen while at shopping malls…  

While shopping at a Nordstrom Rack in Costa Mesa, California, I saw two mothers literally run across the store towards the designer jeans display and smash their strollers (babies inside!) headlong into each other. The babies screamed while the women swore at each other. I stood and watched from a few feet away, horrified and slightly amused that neither one of the women even bothered to check and see if her crying baby had been harmed in the head-on collision.  

While shopping at the Galleria in St. Louis a few months ago, I spotted a family of albino African-American women. They had pink eyes and everything. I felt a little like I was trapped in a strange M. Night Shyamalan movie, and that any minute a fantastical creature would come soaring out of the rafters and disappear into thin air (which would probably make a more cohesive story line than The Happening, really).  

As a high schooler shopping at a mall in Minnesota, I had a very creepy sensation that someone was watching me as I piled up my arms with sale clothing from the teen department. I furtively glanced around, and noticed a middle-aged blonde woman watching me like a hawk. Disregarding my personal safety for the sake of fashion, I ducked into a dressing room to try on the clothing I had acquired. I tried everything on, and had carefully organized the clothes I was planning to buy onto one hook. Leaving my shoes and clothes, I walked out of the dressing room stall and grabbed another size of the shirt I was wearing. When I returned–less than a minute later–I found all of the clothes I had just tried on gone.  

Of course, not being the type of person that gives up easily, I staked out the dressing room in a fury and waited until the blonde woman stepped out herself to grab another size. Then I stole all my clothes back and ran across the store to another dressing room.  

A few years ago, I saw Dennis Rodman walking through the Spectrum in Irvine, California. He was dressed in bright purple with a gigantic fur-rimmed hat, and had about a dozen screaming children running around him–each bouncing  a basketball and weaving around other people in the outdoor shopping center. The outfit itself would’ve been weird on its own–but the screaming basketball-playing munchkins were the icing on the cake.  

I was shopping with my friend Kelsey once in Minnesota, when we heard the store alarm go off and saw a man sprinting out the door. The saleswoman helping us–a young blonde girl–almost started crying as she realized it was an attempted burglary. Store security guards immediately ran over, and found a black garbage bag packed to the brim with expensive designer purses totaling several thousands worth of dollars–which prompted me to wonder exactly how a twenty-year-old guy spent enough time in the purse department to gather up all these purses without attracting attention, and how not a soul noticed him dragging a gigantic trash bag all the way from one side of the store to another.   

After watching the frustrated security guards attempting to pump the useless store clerk for descriptions of the would-be thief, I finally gave them a complete head-to-toe description of the man, including the color of his shoes, clothes, and the design on his hat. I guess that’s one time when my overactive, hyper-aware  people-watching radar actually paid off.   

Sometimes I wonder how writers and directors get ideas for their zany characters. Apparently, one needs to go no further than the local mall in order to get a veritable cornucopia of different case studies.  

Oh, the stories I can tell my grandkids someday…

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51 responses

30 04 2010
ramonakent

I have seen it all too! Just the other day I witnessed two women fist fighting over a parking space at Wal-mart!!

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30 04 2010
Breland Kent

I take issue with the dreaded “Mall Walkers,” they will run you down!!

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30 04 2010
Robin

Hahahaha! Too funny! Found your blog through Freshly Pressed. Nice.

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30 04 2010
j3ntan

I’ve seen a dog-owner walk her dog into a Nordstrom Rack, where it proceeded to shit on the carpeted floor in the purse dept. She pretended to ignore the poop on the ground and another lady and I had to flag her down and make her go to customer service to get something to clean up that poop!

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30 04 2010
bittenbyreality

I can totally relate to your experiences here (CA)! It seems that just when you thought you’ve seen it all, here comes something totally crazy… (Thankfully, Rodman has been fairly quiet lately!)

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1 05 2010
bmj2k

I once saw a crowd swarm a man who resembled, but was not, then-NYC Mayor David Dinkins. The man loudly shouted “I’m not the mayor!” but people would not leave him alone. The resemblance wasn’t that strong, but once the rumor got started the buzz ran through the mall and people were running out of every shop.

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1 05 2010
impassionedplatypi

There is nothing I’ve seen at a mall that has been so exciting that I’ve remembered it more than a few hours. I’m not sure whether that means your life is more exciting or just weird.

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1 05 2010
Remain.Simple

Dogs are human’s best friends. Why not bring them along with you where ever you go?

Hehe, they piss everywhere. Especially my lawn, my beautiful lawn!
Remain.Simple

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1 05 2010
Songbird

ahh shopping malls, they almost are micro-cosmic universes aren’t they? You get everything and everyone under one roof! lol@petiquette!! :O)

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1 05 2010
Karen lee Thompson

The headline got me in. Good one. And an entertaining read. But I also wanted to say that I love the design of your site.

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1 05 2010
courtneykane

Did that myseterious blond woman REALLY steal your clothing from the dressing room?! That is so awesome!

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1 05 2010
KendalPeirce

The best time to mall watch it during Christmas shopping though just being in such a crowded mall makes me want to scream or at least tazer everyone. Picture it, a swath of twitching bodies left in my wake. Oddly satisfying image.

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1 05 2010
dressingmyself

In the Marble Arch branch of Marks & Spencer in London I have seen a clutch of women dressed in the total-shroud style of burkah descend on the underwear department. With no effort to try anything one, they selected armfuls of colourful undies (each) and paid cash.

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1 05 2010
goatgirlbookworm

LOVE this!!!!!!!

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1 05 2010
techentre

That is disturbing, you should purposefully walk into these people to shock them out of their media daze.

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1 05 2010
Marie Therese

lolol, I loved your last sentences. I always find myself walking somewhere, lets say the mall, and I see a person and thinks “I could easily write up a book about that kind of character”

Shopping can be dangerous – be prepered.

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1 05 2010
deliriousfoodie

Don’t fight in line, shop online!

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1 05 2010
throughnarrowdoorways

You know, I find it somewhat unfair that I’ve never had anything like this happen to me at a mall. I would normally say, “Well, nothing happens in Minnesota,” but apparently you have experienced otherwise. Maybe I should shop more often?

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1 05 2010
Estrella Olmos

I definately agree with you

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1 05 2010
Jabba

Wow, that was really funny. Your descriptions of these weird events came through as authentic. I own a retail business and have had occasion to spend the day in a mall or two. Let me tell you, if you want to see some weirdness, the mall has it all!

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1 05 2010
Cate

Malls, I could spent all day there just watching the people. The normal ones vs teh idiots vs the glamour queens.Somehow malls attract a lot of weirdness.

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1 05 2010
ladykemmu

Who needs TV when you can just go to the mall and get all the entertainment you could want?

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1 05 2010
amy5584

that was pretty great

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2 05 2010
Krystiana Stacy Kelly

This post was hilarious. Great stories. I’ll have to pay more attention at the mall next time…
Krystiana
krystianastacykelly.wordpress.com

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2 05 2010
AquaB

Found your blog through Freshly Pressed, and although I’ve never experienced that, I have had people in elevators being freaks.
…..And one of them was me XD But the security guard came, but we were 13 so he let us off the hook ^^ Did I mention this was at an indoor water-park? Even better ^^

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2 05 2010
Daniel See

Hey Cassie! (Look how creative I got with my name :P) Great blog..saw it on facebook and decided to check it out. I think you’ve got a real gift in writing. First the Esource now “freshly pressed”! Great Job!

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2 05 2010
fatuma yussuf

follow me fatu7’s blog…cheers…i like what you’v done with your blog. cheers

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2 05 2010
simsim

Wonderful blog

thank you

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2 05 2010
Jonathan

I had to commute several hours each day for a couple of years on trains, and never grew tired of people watching. Of coursei it’s easy to forget how angry I used to get with “people” too 🙂

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2 05 2010
Sarah Bonar

I would have to wonder what the perception of me and my little ones would be in the places I go. Simple outings turn into adventures, that I desparately try to document, finding the humor, so that I don’t cry. Excellent observations!

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2 05 2010
The Blogger Dude

Wow Ive seen lots too!
Great blog! I found it on Freshly Pressed.
Keep doing your blogs! 😉

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2 05 2010
Anomar's Journey

Never know what you are going to see in the Mall!!

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2 05 2010
OneSaucyDish

Found you on Freshly Pressed! 🙂

I work in retail (bridal retail, to be precise), and believe me, I have seen some crazies in my time!! Recently, a high-school aged couple came in to try on prom dresses, and while the girl was in the fitting room, the boyfriend STOLE a huge, yellow tulle prom dress! We saw him make it all the way to his car and everything! He came back in for his girlfriend afterwards, but by that time, the police were on their way… Seriously, people do the craziest things in public.

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2 05 2010
Nora Salem

Hilarious. It’s crazy the stuff you’ll see in public places. You will see anything from tranvestites to horders to wrestlers! Try walking into a Starbucks or Borders on any given day and you may find yourself writing a new blog post!

Keep blogging and feel free to check out my blog as well at http://www.norasalemwrites. wordpress.com.

~~NS
http://www.norasalemwrites.wordpress.com

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3 05 2010
Nathan Eckman

Let’s thank Freshly Pressed for my stop on this blog… I held a mall hostage once. O.K No I didn’t – But if I did you would have written about it in this blog.

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3 05 2010
21dayconversation

Hahahaha! I am cracking up! I have had some strange experiences too… One time I went to the post office and everyone in there seemed to have a problem.. one lady had a major hunch-back.. one guy was scary looking and kept staring at whoever walked in the door… but my favorite person who walked in the post office was a lady… who had a limp and mis-matched shoes!

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3 05 2010
Rohit

Nice reading.

You have structured your experiences very well. Thanks for sharing.

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3 05 2010
slamdunk

I don’t think anything could ruin my wife’s TJ Maxx experience, but that must have been some sight with the baby and dog juggling cell phone yapper.

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3 05 2010
A Mall Cop

While we are on the subject of strange mall experiences…

I would like to tell some stories from the mall cop perspective. Of course, if you go shopping at any public place, and if you are observant, you tend to spot some pretty weird things going on.

Having lived on both side of the fence, as a civilian (shopper) and a mall cop, I find that weird things tend to happen more often whenever I put on my spiffy uniform with the neon pink tie. Shoppers are passive but mall cops have to be interactive. We are there just so complete strangers can come to us if their kid goes missing or if they need to find a toilet in a hurry.

I always thought it was a pity my colleagues don’t blog because their combined experience would certainly make the blogosphere a more interesting place.

Anyway, I digress. Back to my own weird mall experience.

You talked about a shoplifter who made off with a huge bag of stolen purses, so I will share some of my shoplifting stories here.

Between my colleagues and I, we felt that we have seen it all. VIPs who actually thought they had the right to take our merchandise without paying, teenagers who believed adult mall cops were too stupid to figure out that they had snipped off the electronic tags and misc. adults who were in it ‘just for the thrill’.

But I personally feel that The Best Thieves In The World are the cherubic-faced little kids. And why, you ask? Because speaking as an experienced mall cop myself, I will tell you that very few people will actually suspect a crying kid walking out of the toy store with the most expensive collector item teddy bear clutched in its tiny widdle hands.

And one time the sales assistant at the shoe store told me how they lost a shoe horn to ‘theft’ because nobody wanted to attempt to disarm a 3-year-old boy wielding an approximately 15 inch long plastic shoe horn like a sword. Talk about daylight robbery…

Then there’s ‘Olivia Twist and Fagin’, a girl shoplifter with her adult minder, who successfully got away from right under my nose with a thermometer. (Story on my blog)

And there’s this one time I ‘helped’ a kid get away with a little pink backpack. As she got away with the backpack and her mum, I even waved goodbye at them. That was seriously embarrassing but once I explain the ‘whys’ and the ‘hows’, all shall become perfectly clear and everyone can have a good laugh about this.

~ A Mall Cop

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3 05 2010
planetnomad

I once saw a women tell her daughter not to drink the “dirty” water at a water fountain in a Macy’s. And I saw two women come practically to blows at a Hallmark right before Christmas. “Where’s your Christmas spirit?” one yelled. “Well, where’s yours?” the other shot back. All very educational.
Not as good as your stories, but enough to make me avoid malls.

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3 05 2010
blackwatertown

Good anecdotes. I particularly like the one about you grabbing back the clothes the woman had stolen from your changing room.

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3 05 2010
jhsketch

All happening at the local mall!
Thanks for this post.

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3 05 2010
thoughtsappear

Malls are great places to people watch. Your experiences top any I’ve seen!

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3 05 2010
becky

Wow, this is a seriously impressive list. Nothing like has ever happened to me in malls. Although I did grow up in Vancouver Washington, where nothing exciting ever happens, and now live in New York city where malls don’t really exist.

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3 05 2010
fondutv

It’s funny how true life can be more entertaining than what we see on television. Thanks for sharing your stories.

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3 05 2010
citysoliloquy

The mall is a dangerous place, but especially brilliant for people watching!

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3 05 2010
notesfromrumbleycottage

Loved this piece! I do not spend a lot of time in malls but I know what you are writing is true. There are strange people out there. Screenwriters do not have to make anything up!

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3 05 2010
Laura

Well, after this, I’m not sure I want to go back to a mall ever again. The one with the blonde lady that stole all your clothing from the dressing room was specially disturbing. One reads articles of buyers stealing clothing right from each other hand’s when there is a designer sale or something really huge, but that just seems sneaky.

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4 05 2010
dengitsusan

I know exactly how you feel! LIKE LIKE LIKE your blog :)!

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16 05 2010
ondiluss

Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

Thumbs up, and keep it going!

Cheers
.

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15 07 2010
Courtney

Excellent blog with lots of useful information on strollers. I just favorited it in my browser, so I can always check out your blog! Are there any products you would recommend? Thanks 🙂

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