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People at the Mall Are Kind of Mean To Children

Yesterday, I went to the mall to buy a Christmas present. They say Christmas is for children, but the mall and mall people at Christmastime are not for children. People at the mall are kind of mean to children. Actually, people at the mall are highly annoyed with women who bring their children to the mall. The same can be said for the post office.

My post office is in Oklahoma City’s Asian District, the progress of which I have thoroughly enjoyed. But, my neighbors were darting their eyes at me. Their Vietnamese sounded more brusque than usual as my kids twirled in and out of the line and played hide-n-seek with a cardboard cutout of a mailman. The entire time I was waiting for my turn at the counter, a very tiny woman was practically standing on my heels. Another woman just ahead of me whispered to me that she had five.

FIVE, I said, and she said yes, five children all under seven. I would get a tattoo of a peacock on my neck if I had five children, too. I asked her if she had help and she said oh, yes, she did. I said that’s good! And, by the time I got to the counter to mail my packages and get my stamps, the postal clerk said there were no more Christmas stamps left. She slid three sheets in front of me: Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and EID. I would have asked for flags, but I didn’t want to hold up the line any longer than I already had. The clerk was African American so I figured I’d go with the Kwanzaa stamps. We’re all so affected by images if she’d been wearing a necklace with a Star of David I might have gone with the Hanukkah stamps.

At any rate, everybody is going to get Christmas cards from me with Kwanzaa stamps and they’re going to think I’m trying to make some kind of statement.

So, I have always been a post office person. My father was a post office person. If I wasn’t so cheap, I’d rent a post office box just so I could go to the post office every day.

So, I was once a mall person, but not so much anymore. In the early 1990s when I was a DINK and had more money than sense, I managed to burn up at least 20 percent of my income every month at Foley’s on Kaspar suits and various products at the Clinique counter. Yeah, raspberry glace was my shade.

There are lots of women at the mall and they’re all dressed up like they got dressed up just to go to the mall. I’ve done this before. When I was 19. So, I have consulted my friends. They tell me that chicks of all ages do this. They get dressed up to be seen by people they don’t know. And, if they happen to run into people they do know, they’ll pretend they didn’t see them. It’s like A. said yesterday. “Nobody wants to see anybody anymore.” 

I couldn’t get out of the mall fast enough yesterday. As I sat scrunched in the food court with three children around my skirt I felt like my feet were dangling over hell. Then JUST LIKE THAT! Father Henri Nouwen popped into my head. I first read his book, The Inner Voice of Love 10 years ago. I’m convinced he must have been inside a mall when he made his final decision to leave behind the elite world of academia and move to Canada to help people with developmental disabilities.

I saw someone at the mall yesterday who was developmentally disabled. He was wearing a suit somebody bought at Montgomery Ward in 1975 and he shuffled a little this way and a little that way, and he was all alone, and he appeared to be the most decent person in that entire vat of ego and consumption. No wonder Nouwen went to Canada.

So, we exited the mall, making it past the guy ringing the bell in front of the locked pot. (I hope they pay those people a decent wage.) We made it past the honking cars and the van clipping our heels to get our parking space. I buckled the kids in their car seats and put the stroller in the trunk. I made it out of the mall alive! And, then two blocks from home Sullivan, my four-year-old, said, “Mommy, I need to tell you something.”

I said, “What is it, son?”

I’m sorry I acted like a wild animal at the store today.”

But, that’s just it. The only beasts at the mall yesterday were us grownups.

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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8 Comments

  1. le @ whoopwhoop

    Hello darling girl … when I read you Jen I sometimes so clearly hear me it is all tingly down my spine …

    I was a clinique girl before babes, I wore raspberry glace, I love post offices, I use to love a good mall, now I cannot abide them – give me strip shops (alone the edge of the street – not strip shops the other kind) any day – they are far more personable.

    I adore whoop whoop for it’s no retail position in life – we have a servo for fuel and a combined post office mini mart for food, a pub (so depressing) and two food vans for takeaway …

    I have just faxed my last pre xmas shop to Woolworths in Mount Isa. Now a nice lady named Helen will go pick it out for me, package it up and put it on a truck for me. Then it arrives at my door tomorrow and I unpack it and marvel at some of the unexpected inclusions …

    And clothes are now all done mail order …

    Tis the season – hugs Jen , le xoxo

    Reply
  2. mygenx

    A great post that says a lot about a lot of things–Christmas, vanity, children, and adult children.

    Also, if you make it back to the post office in the next few days, can you see if the have Festevus stamps?

    Reply
  3. Yogi♪♪♪

    Other people’s kids used to bother me until I got one. Now other people’s kids don’t bother me.

    I went to the mall today for the first time in months. We have a Sears humidifier and I needed new filters. I made a pass up and down the mall, ducked into Eddie Bauer saw a $20 Eddie Bauer running hat on clearance for $7. The clerk happened to be an acquaintance of my wife. Making her acquaintance was the nicest thing to happen to me in the mall in 9 years. When son was 2 I would take him to the carousel.

    Reply
  4. Rebecca

    I loved this…

    I love the way you write.

    You inspire me.

    I love you.

    B

    Reply
  5. FLConfetti

    In the months I’ve been reading you, this is one of my very favorite posts…so much truth in every sentence. Funny and poignant all rolled into one.

    Reply
  6. Jim Smith

    Great post as always. Great imagery with this one…I felt like I was there as I read it. BTW…I think we should all make a statement and use Kwanzaa stamps. 😉

    Reply
  7. Oklahoma Girl

    Blessings, on you Dear Sully!! I cannot imagine that your behavior was that bad.

    People do get so angry starting Black Friday until the returns are all made after Christmas. I have never understood why. It only makes the situation worse, & ruins the days of others. So much easier to say “Merry Christmas”, give a smile, & find the virtue of patience. Life is just too short to be behave otherwise.

    Merry Christmas to you & your wonderful little family. Many blessings, dear girl, during this blessed season.

    blessed be…

    Reply
  8. Anonymous

    Jen, you should win a Pulitzer in journalism for this one. Rob

    Reply

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