Scenes From The Mall

Some of you, my dedicated fans, know that I recently lost my job, and that I’m pretty bitter about it. After all, when I asked why I was being let go, I was told that I obviously didn’t like working there, and that I didn’t really want to continue at that company.

The logistics of this absolutely boggled me, since I had been the most staunch supporter of the company from day one, sticking with the company through some very lean times, and defending the company name against those that would speak out against it. To all my coworkers, I was the pep-squad of that company. (And let me tell you, I have definitely got the legs for the cheerleader outfit!)So, to hear the owner/CEO tell me that I didn’t like to work there was confusing, to say the least. But I figured that he must know what he’s talking about, right? After all, he’s the boss!

In desperation, I went out and accepted the first job I was offered; a job described to me as being in “marketing.” Since the job I had just lost was in marketing, I figured that this would be right up my alley. I went in to my first day of work, expecting to be given a cubicle and some spreadsheets to go over while coming up with brilliant marketing strategies. What I was given was a clipboard and a specific spot in a local mall to stand and ask people, “Would you like to take a survey?”

Yes, I had become the only form of life on earth lower than a telemarketer; I was the guy at the mall with a clipboard.

The job would not have been so bad for me had it not been for the fact that 90% of the surveys we were assigned to do required women to be the only respondents. “We need women between the ages of 18 and 56 for this mustard taste-test.” “We need women over the age of 30 to try this new moisturizer.” “We need preteen girls to see if this cigarette advertising is effective on them.” Stuff like that.

Now, I don’t know about you, but if I where a person of the female persuasion and was approached by a nearly 300-pound bearded man saying “Come with me and taste some mustard,” I would be just a bit bothered – to say the least! But even worse than the fact that I’m accosting complete strangers is the fact that if I don’t get a face full of mace, I have to persuade the woman to come back to “The Office” with me to complete the survey/taste-test/whatever marketing test they’re doing that day. “The Office” is conveniently located right down the same dark corridor in the mall as the bathrooms, right off the food court. But, to sweeten the deal for the lovely ladies, I am allowed to let them know that some of the surveys do involve a cash compensation.

So yes… I get to say things like “Hey lady! Would you come to a place down a dark corridor near the bathrooms with me so I can get your reactions to this skin cream? I’ll give you money!”

Just thinking about it makes me flash back to “Silence of the Lambs”… “It puts the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again!”

And yet they expect me to not get arrested and/or receive a face full of pepper spray! If I were to do this on my day off, I would get an all-expense-paid trip to the beautiful King County Correctional Facility, where I will get to converse with people with the middle name of “Da” (as in “Louie Da Fish,” “Frankie Da Finger,” and “Joe Da Italian Mafioso Stereotype”).

So there I was at the mall, making women uncomfortable, when I realized that I had forgotten to pack myself a lunch. I frantically started glancing around the food court, looking for a place that was Atkins-friendly, with very minimal results. Every single food kiosk in that mall is specifically designed to lure me out of ketosis and in to a carb-laden downward spiral! Fifteen different menus to choose from, all containing slight variations of the same three things: meat deep-fried in dough and served with a sugar sauce, sugarcoated meat on a bun, and “something” served on a bed of rice and/or noodles. And, of course, I can have any of those things with a side of fries if I want to.

How frustrating is that?

I ended up ordering a double cheeseburger, hold the bun. (This really showcased just how little meat you actually get on one of these hamburgers.)When my order made it back to the grill area of the burger place, I could hear the “chef” (and I use the term loosely) start yelling at the girl who had taken my order. “We’re too busy for you to be making up a fake order!Who in their right mind would order a cheeseburger – hold the bun???”

While I sat there in the food court, eating my pile of greasy meat and cheese, a group of mallrats at the next table where giggling and whispering to each other while stealing glances in my direction.

They where your average mallrats… 15-year-olds with 20 years worth of “attitude.” The girls were dressed up in fashions that would make hookers say, “Honey, don’t you think that’s just a bit too sluttish?” The boys, all obviously born and raised in the suburbs, were dressed in the finest “street wear” that their mothers’ credit cards could buy them from Sears and JC Penny. “Yo, Mom! I’z told you not to call me Josh when I’m hanging with my crew! When I’m chillin’ with my homies, the name is J. Diddy, aye-lte?”

With the mood I was in, I was positive that they where saying such enlightened things as, “Huh huh… lookit the fat guy… He’s so fat, he don’t even have time for the bun! Huh huh…” and “Ewwwww, how, like, totally gross and junk!”It’s amazing how low your mood can go when you’ve been dodging the hurtful rejections of complete strangers all day long. I tried my best to ignore the mallrats and continue eating, but one of the girls started walking towards me. All her friends where trying to stifle their uncontrollable giggles.

“Excuse me, sir,” she asked. “Are you on that Atkins Diet where you can only eat meat?”

As I saw her coming towards me, I had quickly brought up my mental book entitled 1001 Snappy Comebacks and Insults To Hurl At Young Punks and was rapidly thumbing through the “Home Girl Snaps” section when she asked her question. I wasn’t prepared for her to have a legitimate question!

“GET OUT OF HERE BEFORE I RIP OFF YOUR-huh???Did you ask me a question?”

I just could not believe this! This little girl, dressed in something Madonna would consider “over the top,” knew all about the diet! I told her about how much weight I’ve lost so far, and she asked me some specific questions about low carbing, like what I could and could not eat, and her friends came over and asked questions as well. By the end of my meal, we had all become quite chummy and were happy to know each other. They all thought it was really cool that there was an alternative out there other than utter starvation, and thought that the Atkins Diet was extra cool because it was so nonconformist. Heck, even Katie Couric had said that it’s bad for you! So this diet was just as cool as smoking, drinking, and anything else that “The Establishment” told you that you shouldn’t do!

Yes, by the end of my lunch break, these kids had a new found respect for me, and I for them.

But they still wouldn’t do a survey for me.

“It’s better to regret something you have done, than to regret something you haven’t done.”

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