After being traumatized at Boston Store, I headed to the food court to gorge myself on a pity pretzel from Auntie Annie's. It was topped with buttery, salty goodness.
The corridors teemed with leacherous kiosk sales people:
No, I don't care to try some salt scrub from the Dead Sea that will exfoliate my skin to the point that touching a baby's butt would feel like sandpaper.
No, I do not want to sit in a chair while you, strange old man, rub my shoulders as everyone passes by--public massage just seems strange and borderline inappropriate.
No, I do not want to try your electric cigarette that will help me quit smoking--because I don't smoke in the first place.
No, I do not want to try your magic plastic braclet that is going to help reinforce my balance and align my chi.
To escape the onslaught of vendors, I escaped into Sears. For many, I'm sure the fall of the great retail paragon is a sad testament to our online culture; but, honestly, I love what Sears has become.
If a person just gives up, sits around in his pajamas for several days at a time, walks a block to McDonalds to eat three Big Macs in order to get "exercise," and spends hours online playing World of Warcraft and shirks any involvement in the world whatsoever---that's kind of what Sears has become. Resigned to its fate, wallowing in just a hint of despair and coming across as just a little sad.
For example, at Sears there are countless empty shelves, clothing racks, and wide pieces of floor space that is completely unused. At some points in the store you aren't sure if you are looking at merchandise or an area that is used as makeshift stockroom. In the men's section, the walls are a dark puddy brown color. Several dings had been made in the walls probably caused when racks were moved to various locations. The walls were patched with a bright white compound; they've been there for at least the past 10 years when I first noticed them, the wall looking more and more like a brown guernsey cow.
Yet, I breath a little easier when I'm in Sears. Despite this being "the rich people's" mall, the shoppers at Sears are my people. A woman is wandering the children's clearance section with four kids tumbling on the floor in a mini-wrestling match, a husband and wife argue about the need to purchase a set of power tools, the young couple with the baby who are wearing tattered t-shirts and shorts counting and recounting their dollars while their cute baby is dressed like pink cotton candy waiting to go into the Sears photo studio.
Just outside the doors, out there, were a whole lot of teen boys posturing in their "sag with swag" clothing, teen girls pretending to be aloof sitting on the couches sipping on Starbucks discussing manicures, and I'm fairly certain I saw a woman talking about spreadsheets on a cellphone who had her toddler on a leash attached to her wrist.
I usually do not buy anthing that is not on sale or on the clearance rack, so I was pleasantly surprised when I headed up the escalator to find a half-football field's worth of yellow signs in the men's department.
After having shelled out close to $100 at Boston Store for cologne, I decided a cathartic purchase was in order. T-shirts for $4, sweatshirts for $7, and a 2 for 1 deal on underwear---a smorgasbord of deals. With several long sleeved shirts in hand, I comfortably walked up to the cashier who looked like he may be on the verge of puberty.
With his floppy Justin Bieber hair, I praised the selection and quality of clothing I had in my hands--he rolled his eyes. He was one of those kids who spent all of his off-days talking trash about his workplace. Oh, no, he wouldn't be caught dead in clothing from Sears--too good for his 100 pound body.
I was a tad frayed around the edges from the day's experience, so I wasn't going to let him off the hook. Instead, I gave him a history lesson.
"You know," I lectured, "Sears is a very important store in our nation's history. People would get this magazine-looking book called a catalog, and they would page through it and purchase things like clothes; it was kind of like Amazon.com but on paper, and then you'd send off an order and it would come to you through the mail--the real mail, you know, the post office?" And yes, yes, I was that condescending.
He groaned some sort of acknowledgment and blew a bubble with his gum.
"You could buy a house from a Sears-Roebuck catalogue. Could you imagine?! A HOUSE!"
Floppy hair just started to stare at me as if I were a crazy man, and he swiped his barcode reading wand faster across my purhcases.
"This is a vital piece of history. I love this store."
I think, perhaps, my sincerity and conviction was a tad off-putting to the teen who had stopped making eye-contact altogether. Handing me my bag without even a thank you, I turned to go down the escalator, but an older woman and her husband were in my way. They were walking, linked arm to arm, not because one or the other needed assistance--they were just an elderly couple in love.
As I passed them, I smiled, and the gentleman with a little twinkle in his eye nodded at me with respect. I think they may have overheard me and liked what I had to say--I am not certain--but for now, that's how I'm going to tell the story.