Stripping Down Smith Haven Mall
“Honey! Honey! Smile pretty while this nice lady takes your picture! Would you please stop fidgeting?” shrieks a frustrated mother as she runs to adjust her three-year-old daughter on Santa Claus’s lap. Its Christmas time at the Smith Haven Mall and the line to take a picture with a not-so jolly Saint Nick is wrapped around the cheerfully decorated, plaza. The plaza is the center of the mall and when standing directly in the middle, one can see straight down the four corridors leading away from it. Each corridor is lined with a surplus of stores, with genres ranging from Abercrombie and Fitch to Gadgets and Gizmos. No matter how old you are or where you come from, you can always find what you’re looking for at this mall. Each corridor ends with a big attraction, all except one being huge department stores like Macys or Bloomingdales. The one corridor that doesn’t end with a cheesy department store leads to the glorious and always crowded food court. The food court offers many fine dining establishments including Wendy’s, Nathan’s, Holy Guacamole and about four Chinese food restaurants all serving the same questionable cuisine, which some have referred to as dog meat, though never proven. After you pick up your delicious dog meat, don’t go expecting to find an open table anywhere because the large areas set up with tables and chairs is always completely occupied. All over the food court you see people darting across the area to get that table that some family just gave up. People push past each, jumping over chairs to steal a seat. It’s always a competition to find a table and it’s rare to win the race. Better grab a spot against the wall! After you’re finished eating your gourmet meal, you can walk back towards the center of the mall and try to avoid eye contact with the beauty consultant, with the cart set up in the middle of the walkway, who swear that their brand of hand cream is better than the carts on the other side of the mall. The Smith Haven Mall is your everyday, average mall, but be careful going there at Christmas time because you might get ran over by some mother who has just got to get to the big sale at Bloomingdales.
So what is it about these crowded corridors and over-populated food courts that attract so many consumers every day? The obvious assumption about shopping malls is that people go there to shop. Clearly it is meant for shopping, being that the mall offers more than one hundred and forty stores to browse through. (www.simon.com) While a lot of purchases do take place at the mall, that is not the sole purpose why people navigate the crowded parking lot for a spot that doesn’t exist. Teenagers are attracted to the mall because it’s a free place where they can gather to just “hang out.” Teenagers are kicked out of nearly every place they go and the Smith Haven Mall has little to no exclusion so they are free to stay for as long as they like as long as they don’t cause a disturbance. Even if they were to cause a ruckus, I don’t believe much would be done because there is not an overwhelming presence of authority. When I visited the Smith Haven Mall a day after Black Friday, the busiest and most hectic shopping day of the year, I only observed one security guard the entire two hours that I was there. There is a misconception about mall security guards, better known as “mall cops,” that they possess little power and are made out to be jokes. Mall security guards in some ways have more power than a police officer. The police may enforce the law, but that is where their authority ends. The security guard, on the other hand, may enforce the law, any rule or regulation of the property, and may even make up rules as he goes along. Guards can in fact arrest someone if they feel that you are causing a disturbance in their realm of control. (www.copblock.org). With this being so you’d think that teens would be running in the opposite direction but, teenagers still...
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