Men in Dressing Rooms + Glazed Shoppers + Helicopter-Flying Salesmen = Strikes Against the Outlet Mall

2 05 2010

At the risk of sounding like a serial shopper (fine, label me), I feel compelled to share the feelings I experienced today while at an outlet mall here in St. Louis.

As I walked around this lavish shopping center—featuring such gems as Cinnabon and Designer Shoe Warehouse—I began noticing an ugly feeling creeping up in me.

Pushing it aside, I continued to dawdle around Bath & Body Works, dodging out of sight of the overly energetic saleswomen eager to explain their “Buy one candle, get the second half off!” deal to me for the fourth time.

Safely in the confines of my car that afternoon, leaving the mall, it dawned on me what that feeling was: pure, unadulterated annoyance.

I was annoyed by my fellow shoppers.

Although I don’t consider myself a particularly angry person (barring the rage that breaks over me just hearing the words, “Department of Motor Vehicles”), I do have a serious problem: a lot of people drive me nuts.

Don’t get me wrong—it’s not everyone, just a select few.

Firstly, I’m annoyed by the general principle that comes into effect when people congregate in large places: they turn their brains completely off.

I initially noticed this while strolling around Disneyland in college, hence the name we gave this strange effect: “Theme-Park Condition”. My friends and I would play a daring game in which we would pull out a map and see how far we could walk without looking up.

Often, we’d run smack into people, but they would just look at us confusedly with a glazed look on their faces—sort of that “I just ate an entire gallon of ice cream and now I’m not sure if I can feel my feet” sort of look.

We finally stopped playing the game long enough to start watching the patterns of people. Ninety-nine percent of all the tourists in the park just bumbled along—brains clearly disengaged. If they exited a ride, they would stop right at the gate and not even notice the hundreds of people they were single-handedly trapping inside the ride.

Even more disturbing was the fact that most people didn’t even notice they were trapped in the line queue. They just bobbed along, glazed look in place.

Theme-Park Condition was in full-force at the outlet mall today.

At one point, I found myself trapped in a swell of people putt-putting along at a snail’s pace. While in this crushing crowd, I couldn’t help but think, “If a fire breaks out, I’m dead—these people would take about three hours to evacuate.”

I finally squeezed around the crowd and discovered the reason that we were all moving so slowly: one very large woman insisted on wearing her four-inch red patent heels to shop in, and she was painfully limping along, dragging an entire armful of shopping bags with her. Strike one.

As I rounded the corner, inwardly celebrating my victory at outsmarting the crowd, I found another annoyance: the dudes in the kiosks who fly those little electronic helicopters just above eye-level.

I’m pretty sure the people who work at those stands are intent on bullying people into buying their products. I can’t think of any other reason why they would fly those helicopters so low and so daringly close to my face. I bet they think that sheer intimidation will force otherwise intelligent people into halting dead in their tracks, ready to shell out whatever cash they have in their wallet in order to be free from the horror of those deadly robots.

Strike two against the mall crowd.

Strike three involved a mother letting her children crawl in and out (and in and out) of strollers and thoroughly entangle themselves in an entire display of shorts. Mom looked up from her shopping daze and seemed totally shocked that her kids were now enmeshed in the denim display—as if she thought they had spent the last five minutes quietly in her stroller, and an evil stranger had stolen them behind her back and placed them in the tangled store display without her knowledge.

Another strike occurred when an overly caffeinated Starbucks employee thought it would be funny to tell me I couldn’t have a small glass of ice water—as if the four dollars I paid for a little bit of coffee and milk somehow didn’t cover the cost of six ounces of tap water. And then he seemed offended when I walked away.

It also drives me nuts when I’m looking at a rack of clothing, methodically sorting through, and someone crowds into the space next to me and starts rifling through the hangers. Some people just don’t understand the concept of personal space. Strikes five, six, seven, eight…

Men standing in the dressing rooms, actually pretending to be involved in their wives’ clothing try-ons? Yeah, right. Go sit outside the store on the bench with all the other men, sitting and checking the game stats on their phones. You’re doing nothing but taking up space and disrupting your wife’s all-time speed record for trying on pants.  Strike nine.

Strike ten belongs to the parking lot, in general. If you ever wonder about those odd news stories about people running over 90-year-old grandmothers and not even noticing, just spend a few minutes checking out the parking lot at an outlet mall. Cutthroat.

When it’s all said and done, I’m sure I do plenty of things that annoy other people, too.

For all I know, someone else out there is posting something about a blonde twenty-something darting in and out of the crowd, batting helicopters out of midair and hiding under lotion displays to get away from store clerks.

But hey—at least my brain was on all day.




7 responses

2 05 2010

Very recognizable, especially strike 3, 5 and 9 😉 Well done!


2 05 2010

How lucky were you to go to college in Disneyland!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1


3 05 2010

Absolutely delightful! I feel better knowing I’m not the only one annoyed by those brainless zombies at malls and theme parks too.


3 05 2010

Yup I get annoyed at the mall, too. Espicelly when people are walking in front of you and they all of sudden stop because they saw something in a store window. An you bump into them and they look at you very rudely. I always feel like telling them it my fault you stopped all of a sudden in a middle of crowded mall. Good Blog i enjoyed it.


10 05 2010

I work in retail, at a mall, and this is how I feel almost every single day. I don’t know you, but I love you for this blog post.


12 05 2010
Bitten by Reality

Not sure how, but I think “Theme Park Syndrome” is applicable to most Costco shoppers too. 🙂


17 06 2010
albert poulis

Nice Posting and great information thank you.


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