The first shopping mall in the US was opened in Duluth Minnesota in 1915 and since then we haven't looked back. The United States, home of capitalism, leads the world in retail space. It is estimated that there is over 20 square feet of retail space for every person in America. Wow. The Swedes are a distant second with only 3 square feet allotted per person. And the money that flows into the retailer's pockets that occupy that retail space? How about $4.2 Trillion dollars per year, or 12 thousand smackers per person. Now you know how they can afford all those fancy lighting displays.
You would think that with that much money flowing in support of our free enterprise economy, that people would be in a better mood. Or not.
We did note a few smiles though:
Smile #1: The teenage parking attendant smiled as I approached to ask where in the heck the NowayamIsquealing boutique's (thought you would catch me, eh?) entrance was. What? A teenager actually smile at a dude with a kid? Right. Turns out his smile was actually directed at the passel of teenage girls standing behind me. No wonder that parking flow was a disorganized zoo.
Smile #2: A grandmother with her grandchild who saw me standing patiently outside the family bathroom waiting for a door to open (I was there when she went in to 1 of the 3 family rooms and was still there waiting when she came out). "They're all open, honey, you just go in and get what you need." Her smile was one of pity, followed closely by a smirk that seemed to say "holy cow....tell me that guy didn't procreate". I am sure I looked like the chicken in the arcade game waiting for the corn kernel to signal me to go in the door.Smile #3: The nice lady in the Notgonnatellyou store (nice try!) smiled. She was quite friendly and she listened patiently as I bragged about Ethan's helper status and his resiliency to the cold, the wet and the nasty...and oh yeah, the inclement weather too. She was a mother or grandmother too and she seemed pleased that Ethan didn't have bird poop on him or other bad Daddy evidence. She smiled as she helped me, and even carried my selections to the counter for me. Of course now that I think about, she was probably just guarding against me slipping something into Ethan's stroller and making a stroll, I mean a run, for it. So, a smile of skepticism perhaps.
Smile #4: Another parking attendant. This guy was older, dressed like an elf and was standing outside in the cold rain. He was trying his best to help the mass of shoppers enter and exit the parking lots without getting squished like a grape by a runaway SUV. And even though he maintained a spring in his step and a cheer in his voice, he was ignored by the haute couture crowd like it was a sport. I smiled at him, because anybody that does a job that involves a high incidence of arrogant humps and that requires wearing a funny hat, definitely deserves a smile. And he smiled back, with a knowing and appreciative grin. Hopefully he is somewhere warm, dry and with some decent humans around him tonight. Perhaps he will be laughing about the pitiful human condition that is rude to a guy whose sole job was to make their shopping easier and safer, and they instead rush by so they can pander to the other "have's" over a latte and posture over who has the pricier handbag. What a world.
What have you done to increase the level of human happiness today?
But the last - and very best - laugh was Ethan's as he let out his first gut busting giggle today.
The smile that Ethan gave me could have powered that mall's entire lighting display.