I sat in a mall food court yesterday afternoon.
It was the first time I’d darkened the door of the mall in a while. I’d planned to people watch, because it’s just about the only thing suitable to do in a mall while you patiently wait for a woman to finish shopping, but something was off.There weren’t many people to watch.
A man asked me if I was ready for tonight’s national championship game. I told him I was, and we talked football while he wiped down tables.
A few more people walked by after he left to work the rest of his shift, but things at the mall weren’t like they used to be.
When I was a kid, the mall bustled with activity.
The carousel in the middle of the food court spun, lit up and played a familiar carnival chorus.
There wasn’t a restaurant or retail space to be had, and a vast array of people populated its paths.
A kid could get a giant piece of pizza and a cookie the size of a toddler’s head. Then there was the obligatory trip to a favorite toy shop before a beeline to the bookstore completed a well-rounded trip.
Now, the toy shop is gone and the bookstore is no more.
I’m afraid other bookstores may end up the same way. The other day, a voice on my radio told me a big-name bookseller will soon cut the size of its stores and I was sad.
There’s something about the smell of new books. It makes me spend money.
Meanwhile, back at the mall.
I bet I could have counted the people in the food court at one time yesterday on my hands, but there’s no need to bring numbers into this.
My favorite Chinese restaurant appears closed forever. The red letters are gone from the wall.
Worse, the sweet-and-sour chicken is gone from the buffet line.
Maybe things looked better in the stores, but they looked pretty bleak in the food court.
Perhaps people decided to take a rest as God intended, but I believe I know what caused the mall’s misfortune.
These days, a lot of people shop at home in their pajamas.
I admit I have done my part to put the mall in its current predicament.
I got my Christmas shopping done in record time last year, and I barely left my recliner.
It was glorious.
Yesterday’s trip to the mall made me a little nostalgic, but one sign of the pace of progress simply made me sad.
I sat there for at least two hours, and I didn’t hear the carousel one time.