Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Too Many Mall Trips

I used to love hanging out in Barnes & Noble. I would spend hours there looking at books, trying to decide which ones I wanted to buy, looking at the new selections, sitting in a soft chair or on the floor reading. Whenever I needed a break from the kids & hubby, I would go to Barnes & Noble for a while. I could spend hours poring over books while hidden away in a corner of the store, undisturbed. I'd come home refreshed & recharged, once again ready to face the trials of dealing with my family.

There are few things that rival a good book store. Sitting on the floor, surrounded by stacks of books, the new book smell (which is right up there with new car smell, new puppy smell, and new baby smell) enveloping you as you touch each book cover, flip through the pages, & listen to the sound of a book being opened for the very first time, is an experience every single person should have.

I no longer visit my local Barnes & Noble if I can help it. I now do most of my book shopping online. A few years ago, the only Barnes & Noble in the city (why we only have one, I still don't understand) moved to the mall.

I hate the mall. I was not the average teenage girl, content to hang out at the mall, doing nothing. After high school, I went to work at the mall, at a McDonald's in the food court. I got along well with other mall employees, which helped me make it through the days when I wanted to strangle the customers & tape their obnoxious kids' mouths shut (seriously, some people need to discipline their kids & teach them some freaking manners (and I'm not talking about special needs kids, which I fully understand are more unpredictable in behavior. I'm talking the ones who are annoying little brats because mom & dad give in to everything instead of being in charge.)). Even on days when the most annoying customers came in, having some of my favorite regulars (employees from various stores in the mall) come in made my day better. I was always ready to put on a smile for them, and we'd chat as they waited for their food. For someone like me - social anxiety issues & an aversion to stupid & annoying people - working at the mall was really a challenge. Dealing with so many rude customers did not make me appreciate the mall more. Well, I appreciated the mall at two times of day. The first was when it first opened for the day. It opened at about 7am, so people could come walk. No stores were open yet, except us. We served coffee & other drinks to the morning walkers. So, when I worked mornings, the only people there were a few mall employees, and 20 - 30 walkers. Most of the walkers were seniors. They were so nice & polite. They were always so happy so early in the morning. They were regulars. I saw the same faces daily. I was on a first name basis with several of them. Many would order their coffee as soon as they saw me, even though I didn't have the coffee made yet or the drawer in the register. They would leave their $0.27 (the exact amount of a senior discount coffee after tax) on the counter & do another lap around the mall while they waited for the coffee to brew. Joining the seniors were the moms with babies. They were more likely to order orange juice, cappuccino, or soda (usually diet). They were also polite, but not as friendly as the seniors and most were not as regular about their walks. This was a wonderful time of day. I am not a morning person. I rarely fall asleep before 1 am (usually around 3 - 4 am now). When I had to work mornings, I was up by 5:30 (Luckily, I function best on 4 - 6 hours of sleep. My issue with mornings isn't being tired or groggy, just a general hatred of mornings.), so I could drive across town to drop my daughter off at daycare, then drive across town again to get to work on time. The regular walkers & the few mall employees there that early, made mornings far more tolerable. The only other time I truly appreciated the mall was at night, after the mall closed. We always had to stay after the mall closed to finish cleaning, counting down the drawers, etc. The only ones left were other mall employees. We'd crank up the music (When I was shift manager for close, I'd allow the closing crew to bring in CDs to play. A different person provided the closing soundtrack each night.) & dance & sing while closing down & cleaning for the night. The mall was so quiet at these times, & I actually enjoyed being at work.

Anyway, since leaving McDonald's, I have tried to avoid the mall as much as possible. It has only gotten worse since I left. Most of the stores I actually liked are gone. There's no longer a music store (at one point there were 2). Barnes & Noble is the only book store (there used to be 2 book stores, as well). The good coffee place is gone. It has more useless stores (Really, why does one mall need 5 jewelry stores? Also, the mall now has a corner store inside it. WTH is that about?). The whole place stinks. It's a combination of all the food places, the coffee places, the thousands of different scents from perfumes, colognes, lotions, candles, and bath products all mixed together into one nasty stench. Then, you get to add to that the overly perfumed/cologned people, because people don't realize that when someone walks past you, they shouldn't choke on the cloud of perfume/cologne surrounding you. It is a truly awful experience for someone whose sense of smell is as sensitive as mine, one that usually results in a migraine that lasts for days.

Since moving to the mall, Barnes & Noble kind of sucks. They only have a few chairs & they face the registers & the exit/entrance (the outdoor one, not the one to the rest of the mall). Who wants to face the cashiers or door while reading/skimming a book? At the time of the move, it was stated that they were moving because the mall location would be bigger. It's not. The cafe inside it is bigger (and smells rank). It's louder. It no longer smells like books. Now it just smells like mall & shitty coffee. They have less selection now. Well, they have less books, but more toys & crap. There are more people, most of which are teens who walk through pointing books & saying, "That was a good movie," and little kids whose parents can't be bothered to teach them how to walk instead of run, talk in an inside voice instead of scream, or behave like civilized humans instead of running around, yelling, throwing things, an running into people.

I ordered some books online from Barnes & Noble. One of the books I wanted was not in stock online, but was allegedly in stock in our local store. So, I went to the store to get it. I got there only to find that it was not in stock in the store, either. I find this annoying, especially since I saw it there the last 3 times I was in the store (all of which were in between Christmas & Feb, because I have a teenage daughter & therefore cannot avoid the mall as much as I'd like to). The book in question was the Barnes & Noble special leather-bound collectible edition of Dante's The Divine Comedy. I saw several copies in the store just a week or two before going to buy it. I don't, even for a second, believe that all of a sudden, in this city of idiots, they had a massive rush on that particular book. So, where the hell did all the copies go? I found only one hardcover copy, & it had glue all over the top, making the pages stick together. There was only one paperback copy, so I ended up with that. I was pissed. Then, the books I ordered online came, but one was broken:






So, I had to go back to the mall, again. I took the book, explained that this was how the book came, and told the guy that I would like to exchange it for a copy that wasn't falling apart. His reaction to the condition of the book was pretty much complete shock that they would send it out like that (I was rather surprised at it, too). He had to order it for me, because there were none in stock, of course. It took about a week & a half for the new, not falling apart copy to come in. I just picked it up yesterday. Now, I'm just hoping to avoid the mall for as long as possible.