Thursday, November 05, 2009

Hey Henrietta!

Dash away

Do I rant? I try not to rant too much. But... I went to the mall today. Mmm-hmm. You smell what I'm sellin'.

It might not have been such a good idea to go to the mall... today. I have been battling our suckass Microsoft network server for a solid week - it is riddled with malicious, suppurating garbage processes spawned by a violent pederast of a Trojan introduced by, I suspect, some lice-ridden neighborhood wifi skeever with the handle "HAIDEEZ something something".

The novelty spelling of "Hades" just screams "thug" to me. I bet it's one of those young people at the church behind us. You can hide a lot under a choir robe. Trust me. Of course, if "HAIDEEZ whatever whatever" is you, and your computer appeared on my thinger just because you brought your laptop by one day to show me something or work at my house... well. Then I guess I would assume you were being all LOLcatty about your machine name. Uh, that's cute! Ahem.

So yeah, I've been in a somewhat combative mood. Also, I hadn't eaten. But I wanted to go to the Apple store, because I think I'm going to pitch that Microsoft piece of shit and plug in a Mac mini and a Mac router and sit back and let that proprietary software do the stuff it's supposed to do.

It's not my ideal solution. Ideally, I'd love to have an all-Linux house. I don't like the sort of... Masonic vibe of the Apple multiverse. And I've been very happy with my Ubuntu laptop. But I am forced to admit that I no longer have the mental flexibility to learn enough Linux to set all that up myself. For example, the laptop hasn't had sound for months, and I just can't figure out how to fix that. It's for the best, I tell myself. Keeps me from wasting time watching Woodentops videos on YouTube.

But back to the Apple store. Have you ever been to an Apple store? If what you need to do is to buy a lizard green iPod nano for The Best Babysitter Everr, their model of ACCOST UPON ENTRY SO THAT NOBODY WANDERS FREE works pretty well. You say, "Why yes, you can sell me a lizard green iPod nano," and that's just super. But if you just need to count the number of USB ports on the back of the Mac mini, you would like the tiny headsetted iDoorman with the skater boi haircut and the idiotic jeans to pretty much just BACK HIS SHIT UP.

And then when you DO have a question, and spot somebody in a shirt, and say, "Hey..?" you would not like that person to say, "Um? If you could just speak to Micah at the front? He's managing my floor today, and he'll set you up with someone." Because Um? I do not know about your floor. And I am not looking for a setup, I just want to know if there's a version of the one-terabyte router that doesn't crap out after 18 months.

I would like to make a comparison now. I walk up to perfect strangers and ask if I can help them probably 50 times during the course of a typical 4-hour shift at work, and I do not think I have ever once done it in such a way as to have made a person want to stab me. You never know, of course. Maybe that lady who said, "Found it myself, thanks!" was really fingering the icepick in her pocket and counting down from ten.

Have I avoided injury because I am unusually talented at public relations? Hm. According to every supervisor I have ever ever had? NO. Have I stayed safe because I do not automatically adopt a patronizing demeanor? MOTHERFUCKING BINGO.

So I learned the thing I needed to learn and then got the hell out of the Apple store before I kicked someone with my big boots. I saw The Gap and remembered that I need a long-sleeved striped t-shirt (because, er, there's one that I don't have?), and I figured it might calm me down to buy one. I swear, striped t-shirts are for me like Catcher in the Rye was for Mel Gibson in Conspiracy Theory. I just have to buy them.

The Gap was packed with crap. I mean I have never seen a retail establishment so overloaded with stock. The regular fixtures were stacked to the ceiling. Wheeled scaffolds holding towers of t-shirts blocked the aisles. Even the mannequins were supersaturated, wearing four and five t-shirts under two sweaters and a jacket, with two scarves. But they had no heads. Maybe their heads boiled off from wearing all that overflow stock.

So I had a little trouble finding exactly the long-sleeved striped t-shirt I wanted, and I asked a perfectly nice, non-intrusive headsetted teen for assistance. She knew exactly where it was, and showed me. When people are impressed that librarians know the Dewey Decimal System, I kind of internally snort. It's not that much to remember: resumes always come after cookbooks. But have you ever worked retail? Knowing where this v-neck brown sweater is stocked, versus that v-neck brown sweater, that doesn't have the ribbing? Those kids are not just sweater-folders.

I rummaged on the shelf for a Medium - I'll say this about mall shopping, the inflated sizing does make me feel petite - and turned back, thanking her. And found I was thanking a headless mannequin. It sat there, severed neck gleaming, elbows resting jauntily on its thighs as I looked quickly around to see if anyone had heard my little shriek.

Completely unsettled, I abandoned the shirt and decided maybe I should eat something, pronto. Headed for the food court. But between me and it were the Level 3 kiosk ambush people. "Hey! I really like your hair!" "Can I show you something?"

GOD no.

Here is where I wished I'd taken my hallucinogens before coming to the mall. I am not too good at faking freakouts, and I've really really always wanted to respond to a kiosk ambush person by screaming, "WHAT??! OH MY GOD YOUR HEAD! SNAKES! GET YOUR DINGO AWAY FROM ME YOU COCKSUCKING ZOMBIE! NO! NOOOOOOO! DON'T LET HIM TOUCH ME! SNAAAAKES!!"

I made it to the food court though. And turned around and left it immediately. The noise, the smell, the garbage food, what the FUCK? But eventually I found myself in line at a nominally deli-themed food court tenant, where an energetic lady with orange-red hair gossiped with her sisters in an elaborately unintelligible language and made me a tuna on rye garnished with a handful of potato chips so broken as to suggest a profound, possibly culturally based, misunderstanding of how potato chips are meant to work. P
aid seven bucks for that sandwich, too. I reflected that for the same seven dollars I could be trading terrible jokes and wistful anecdotes with the North Indian man at the sub shop down the street, and get an amazing 12" Italian cold cut sandwich (with extra hots) to boot, but I didn't have the time. You know, I think she was speaking Romany. That would be cool - gypsies at the mall!

On my way back down and out, I came to central juncture: a staircase and an elevator linking Level Three and Level Four. I remember that elevator from my days as a stroller pilot. It's pretty small, and I always kind of resented the able-bodied non-strollered folk who used that elevator rather than taking the stairs. As I approached it today, I swerved toward the stairs, just behind a pregnant woman who did not give the elevator a second glance. And when I say pregnant, she was pregnant. PRAG. NUTT. As I descended, I caught up with her.

"Dude!" I said in a low voice. "You totally shamed all those people off the elevator!" It was true. We both glanced back at the five or six people who had abandoned their wait for the elevator in favor of the stairs after seeing Ms. LooksLikeTwins charge past them.

"Look at that - you're right!" she giggled. "But I'm just trying to get this baby to come!"

Used to be, trapped under the squirming beanbag weight of two children born twenty months apart, the mall was an attractive option every now and then. Smooth floors, no weather - the double stroller and I could windowshop and daydream our way to the kids' play area, where the boys could crawl on the play structures that today would be guaranteed to give them swine flu while I read Vanity Fair and drank a coffee. That's some potent relaxation for a stay-at-home mom with kids that young. Then we'd eat pizza in the food court.

But the state of having very small children is quite a bit like senility. You are underslept and understimulated, and probably unwashed. You spend quite a bit of time feeling pithed. Like a frog. In that state, the institutions of the mall can be soothing and safe.

But I think the rest of us should be careful to take our Xanax, as my friend Kristen recommends, first.