Meanwhile, in front of the station itself, a grey-bearded old homeless man, who in all likelihood is actually 38 years old, lay on the ground in front of the turnstiles, his head pillowed on a large black garbage bag. He wore dirty blue jeans and a worn looking sport coat. He looked at me and held his hand up, plaintively. "I'm not having a good time." he gasped weakly, in a raspy voice. I dare say.
Another man stalked by, mumbling angrily to himself. Suddenly he shouted, "I spent seven years in prison, mother fuckers! You all have a blessed day, except the black people, hear?"
At a corner, not far away, yet another man, in a far better humor, stood holding the ubiquitous cardboard sign, heiroglyphed with the scopic Sharpy. The words written on the sign were, "My wife been KIDNAPP!!! I need 99¢ for ransom!" The bereft individual beamed his brilliant white teeth at everyone who passed near, apparently overjoyed at the prospect either of dealing with such reasonable kidnappers, or that the ball and chain, the better half, the little woman, the old lady was surely gone for good and chopped into matchsticks by now.
As there was rain rather than sun for the Sun Valley Mall of Concord, California, said edifice was packed to the rafters. The scene lacked for nothing but, perhaps, a squad of zombies at all the entrances.
All the usual suspects were there. One young gentleman had his ball cap tilted so far over onto the right side of his head that, what with the way he shambled along in his too large clothing, like a yeti on crack, I was at a complete loss to explain why it didn't just tumble away and into the Orange Julius. I can only surmise that the tomato on top of his shoulders was so empty that a vacuum had formed, thus adhesing the hat permanently to his pumpkin-like dome. Nature abhors a vacuum, and the heavens know so did I at that moment.
As I parambulated along in my own sasquatch-like shuffle I noted that they were preparing to once again erect, in the central court, the giant plastic x-mas ornaments cum fishbowls in which one can wander about, exclaiming in wonder in one's very best Spanish, at the lovely plastic snow and minimum wage Santa on a fiberglass throne.
Oh gosh, everybubby, the holidays are once again almost upon us! I know this because the fly-by-night stores are starting to appear, up and down the mall halls, including a great big one devoted entirely to calendars. Cat calendars, dog calendars, art calendars (Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light, my shriveled ass!), sports calendars, travel calendars, pop-culture calendars (four, FOUR, devoted to the main characters on Family Guy), Dilbert, Peanuts, Sanrio and their god damn Hello Fucking Kitty. Jumping butterballs, it's starting too soon!
But now it's 9 o'clock. Closing time. All the young boys and girls pull down their metal grills, making the mall look like nothing so much as a prison on lock down. Tomorrow is another day. You can get your knick-knacks, smoothies, and deadly deadly Crocs then.
You know, I had the penultimate mall experience just the other day. Downtown Walnut Creek is nothing but a giant upscale shopping arcade. Now, the concept of the market square in the center of town is only about 6000 years old or so. Nothing to speak of, there. But Walnut Creek is the first place I've seen where the mall signs list not only the stores but also city services. It was just like this: Baby Gap - A7, Starbucks - A8, City Hall - A9, Public Library - A10. I kid you not. Even the slogan on the police cars is entirely corporate. "Working Together to Benefit the Community." Doesn't that instill confidence? All full of marketing interpreted team work and gee whiz? Well, it's not like much could happen anyway amongst all the Beemers and Mercedes cruising up and down the parking garages. No homeless men with plaintive cries or inscrutable messages written on brown pressed paper here, no siree. We're working together to benefit the community. God bless America and Macys, anchor store of incorporated Walnut Creek, Cee Aaay.
The inane conversation is of an entirely different caliber in Walnut Creek. "Remember when I lost my cell phone right around here? I was running around like crazy! About two weeks later somebody called me and said they had found it. Remember when I lost my cell phone, honey?" A woman in expensive clothing chattered desperately to her companion, a 30 something fellow in umber colored corduroys, t-shirt, and leather sandals, who ignored her completely by running his fingers through his long grey but stylish hair. "Ah yeah?" he said while looking everywhere but at her. Meanwhile a thin blond teenager walks along behind her parents, who are making a beeline for the gigantic Barnes & Noble, yodeling the typical cry of her kind, "Where are we going nooowwwuh?"
But let's leave the yuppies and the mad to their pleasures, shall we? Yes, lets.
p.s. Sooner or later i'll finish my Reno narrative. I'm trying to jump start myself back into writing and thus overcome the energy suck of the daily grind. A mall report is just the thing.
p.p.s. In December I'm taking a business trip to Madison, WI, which is only four hours away from Minneapolis, home of the ULTIMATE MALL REPORT! The Mall of America. So I've got THAT going for me.