Since Amy has been at college, her Subaru has been parked next to our disused basketball hoop, gathering pollen. By the time I finally got around to driving it, the battery wouldn’t hold a charge, and also, the key wouldn’t come out of the ignition.
I naturally turned to YouTube for help. I found a five-minute video entitled “Can’t Get Key Out of Subaru Crosstrek Ignition”. “Perfect!” I thought, “I love how YouTube has a solution for everything.”
The video was literally five straight minutes of a disembodied hand trying all sorts of methods to get the key out of the ignition, none of which worked. It turns out that the title of the video was entirely accurate. People post all kinds of nonsense.
One morning Larry jump-started the Subaru and I drove it to the Subaru dealership, which is conveniently located next to the Valley Fair Shopping Mall. The technician told me he would need the car all day, and I was well chuffed, as I love a day at the Mall.
Before venturing to the Mall, I typed “Coffee Shop” into Google Maps to see what was nearby and found Yeganeh, a spacious Persian gathering place with a great spinach and feta omelet.
Side note: During the week Larry and I visited Ellen in Berlin, the three of us would go out to dinner, and then take a walk. As we strolled, Ellen would obsessively type “Cake” into Google Maps, looking for late-night sacher torte. It never worked while we were there. When she got back to the states, I asked if it had ever worked, and she said no, but nonetheless she persisted.
After working a Sudoku and enjoying my omelet, I made my way to the Mall and into the enormous Macy’s. I absolutely love Macy’s for the very same reason that many people hate it: the service is deplorable.
The service at every Macy’s I have ever shopped in has been dreadful for as far back as I can remember. Dreadful service is a counterintuitive business model, and yet, Macy’s is still open where other stores have closed.
To me, Macy’s has always had a post-apocalyptic feel, as there are acres of items, few other shoppers, and certainly no visible employees. The quality of many of the goods is sub-par, so it’s like a super-sized Goodwill where you have to sort through everything.
The dressing rooms are unlocked and unstaffed, so you can take armfuls of stuff in to try on. There’s always some sign about a limit of 6 or 10 garments, but I have never been challenged as I take in 30. I don’t want to be a dick to the invisible employees, so I always put my stuff back on the racks, and in the process often grab another 30 items to try.
I had been at this for several hours, roaming through Designer, Casual, Sportswear, Formal Wear, etc. when an actual employee approached me. I thought she was about to offer to help me, which was unprecedented, but no, as God is my witness, she looked at me quizzically and said, “Are you still here?” and then walked away.
Eventually my feet got tired, so I retreated to the farthest back dressing room in Formal Wear and played Solitaire on my phone for a while as I listened to dejected plump women try to find formal outfits. Thank God I haven’t been called upon to dress up in years.
When I finally tired of Macy’s, I spent a good twenty minutes trying to find someone to ring up my purchases, then decided to do some Mall-walking for healthful exercise as I waited for my Subaru technician to call.
There is a soup dumpling place at the Mall that has had a line twenty people deep every single time I have walked by it for the past few years. I don’t get it. I tried soup dumplings once, and they were only OK. There are so many better things you could put in a dumpling.
I watched doting parents dump their screaming infants and distracted dogs in Santa’s lap for a while. I enjoyed being very rude to the kiosk vendors who tried to put lotion on my hands. I ate some cucumber sushi. I browsed through the ultra-expensive stores that hire security guards just to give the security guards something to do. I used my favorite Mall restroom, the third-floor Nordstrom ladies’ room. There’s a great view of the bay from up there.
When my car was ready, I was actually a little wistful. Like nearly every American, with the notable exception of my very own daughter Amy, I fricking love the Mall.