When I was a kid growing up in the 1970’s I loved going to the Apache Mall in Rochester, Minnesota. Why? There was a video game arcade, a theater and a hot dog stand. (that was the extent of the “food court”) What else does a 10-year-old need? My mom would drop us off with a few bucks and go do what moms do whenever kids aren’t around. It was a much simpler time, and it was not something that my mother would have been arrested for neglect or abuse.
Fast forward to 1993, and the same kid took a job at the said mall. By this time, a Cinnabon, Subway and a burger joint were added, and the arcade was reduced to a kiosk with just a few games. For a while, things were fine. I was working at Sears and selling appliances, so I was somewhat insulated from the rest of the mall’s less significant establishments. (Yes, a jab) Then an event so catastrophic shook my world and began my slow devolution into my current disdain for these monstrosities called malls. What was it? It was a Friday. It was Black Friday. I went from working at Sears to working at a zoo! I hung in there for 4 years, then moved on to an independent appliance company that was free standing.
Now, move forward to 2013. I had a stroke. Now, getting around ha become much more difficult and navigating a mall is almost impossible. I live in Texas now, and there is a saying here: “Everything’s bigger in Texas.” This includes the malls. This only amplifies the feelings I have regarding these immense commercial entities. It has prompted me to compile a list of the top 5 things I hate about malls. Here it is:
- Parking- I guess they figure that no disabled people go to a mall. Even the parking spots designated for people like myself are woefully inadequate and they are (typically) too far away from the entry point. The mall nearest me is the worst I have ever seen. They have boat rides, a dozen fancy restaurants, dozens of stores I would never go into and an array of food inside. They forgot one thing: Parking. Fortunately, they offer valet service. Of course, it is free for disabled people, right? NO! For the privilege of spending your money there, you get to pay a $10 valet fee and a $2 “convenience fee” on top of that. People: There is nothing convenient about such a fee. It is only so for the people who collect the money. If you want to charge $12 then do it, but don’t call it convenient. What a slap in the face. Oh, the cherry on top? You are expected to pay a tip! I’ll getcha next time, dude! Grrr.
- Walking- Hmm… Where are the scooters? Nowhere! I can pay to park and then walk 1/4 of a mile to the entry of the store or go to a store that has similar products in a strip center. I can park at the front door and walk a short distance to the department I want, select my merchandise and be back in my car before I would have gotten to the store in the mall. It is a convenience with no fee! There may not be a food court, but the odds are good that you will have a couple of options within the same parking lot.
- Escalators- I have had an aversion to escalators since I was a kid. I had a harrowing and painful experience when playing around on one and tripped going the wrong way. I opened a wound on my lower leg that went from my knee to my ankle. That really hurt. In 2013 I tried one escalator ride shortly after the stroke. Getting on was no problem. You step on when you are ready. As I approached the top I had a flashback of that day so long ago. Unlike getting on, you get off when the machine tells you, ready or not. A disaster was averted, but not by much. Where is the elevator? on the other end of the mall, of course!
- Cell-phone service- When a mall is designed and built the architects take into account wireless phone service. Specifically, how to block the signal. This is something that wouldn’t be a big deal, except for the fact that you going to be in there for a while. You don’t just hop in and hop out at the mall. I must admit a certain level of anxiety when in an area without service, so this is a real problem for me. This can also be a bit of an issue in an emergency.
- Crowds- If I did not work at a retail establishment, I wouldn’t go anywhere near an electronics store, supercenter or a mall between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is the time of year that people forget about civility, politeness, and patience. Add to that the previous 4 items on the list and you get the perfect storm of Hell for a disabled person. There are too many people in too little space. The grunts and sighs of people translate to “get out of my way, slow-poke!”. I have something to tell you: GET OVER IT, JACK! I don’t feel bad about being slow, and I don’t feel bad about not stopping to let you pass. Believe me, it’s harder for me than you.
Folks, if you love going to the mall, have at it. But, don’t bother asking me if I want to go. It’s just not worth it. I just personally believe there are far more efficient and more convenient places for disabled people than the malls to spend money.
I’d love to hear what you have to say. Leave me a message and tell me how enlightened and smart I am. (or not)