Any questions that shook you, Mother Mall had the answer. Her glistening gray hair brought life to the dull gray polo uniform of the Food Court Quick Mart. She greeted each employee by name as she tendered to us our nutritious affordable meals of stale hot dogs, Pringle cans, and 32 oz sodas.
Her eyes pierced through thick lenses with flames of sincerity and compassion for the injustices of our long hours, short pay, and under-appreciated labor. She congratulated and treated jobs well done. Recognition in your job got yourself a hug and perhaps a special discount; while a promotion in rank was met with watery eyes and a proud brag to all who would listen. She stood, the supportive matriarch of our Millennial Souls trapped with crushing college debt in these dead-end retail gigs.
Mother mall lived next to our Guardian in a one-story duplex with a cranky window unit and two tattered lawn chairs. The Guardian would bring pristine charm to your storefront for a simple weekly cash out from the register of ten dollars, and a little extracurricular beauty for an additional twenty out of pocket. His eyes were a flaming red as his white stubble stood out in stark contrast to the captivating dark night of his skin. He loved to visit and longed further to save our souls with the gospel of Jesus. Extended squeegee in place of a sword, the Guardian kept watchful eyes over the comings and goings of the labyrinth-like halls, ending his rounds in the confines of The Oracle, who spent her days in the Corn Dog Heaven.
The Oracle knew the dirty secrets and exciting new dramas of every employee of the mall. Appropriately so as she managed nearly 6 tubs of lemonades in varying colors and flavors; the closest any of our over-educated bodies would ever come to a water cooler. Wanted the dirt on what happened to the manager of Lane Bryant? Frantic for the inside details of the crime ring cracked by JC Penneys? Anxious for the dirty deets of Charolette Russe’s abrupt closure? The Oracle had the answers.
The experienced sales lead from Sears suggested books on the common ailment of bursitis while taking our turns filling our oversized styrofoam cups. The Spencers manager taught retail basics, such as what is a lease-line and how does one prep it to wandering green employees of any shop. The manager of Bealls offered up his security cameras, while the manager of the comic book store was happy to be an emergency source of change to refill the till.
#MallLife was not simply a job, but a deep connection with an intricate and eclectic network…no, wait, community….no, better yet family.