While on the road, I ended up in an outlet mall and had the time to pass on the following wisdom.
I have some unique skills that have allowed me to survive and sometimes flourish in this complex world in which we live. As I age, I am sensing this responsibility to pass on my knowledge to future generations. There are plenty of elders willing to mentor others in business or academics. Sports teams often hire older players past their prime because such players provide positive role models in the locker room or on the bench. It is in this spirit that I am willing to pass on some of my unique wisdom – how to survive if you find yourself stranded at an outlet mall.
So, there you are stuck at an outlet mall far from home and access to the sports or news channels on television. You probably ended up here in good faith. You were foolish enough to believe the claim – let’s just stop in for a second so I can find some bargains for the grandkids. It is hard to argue that you are unwilling to sacrifice a few seconds for the grandkids. The problem with the request is that the definition of “a few seconds” is never made clear. I have time to write this post because a few seconds ago I was dropped off at a mall Starbucks (by mutual consent). Stretching a few minutes into several hours is possibly explainable by Einstein’s theory of relativity which I admit I do not understand. Something about space can stretch time. However, I know my wife is not an expert on advanced models of the universe so I am guessing “a few seconds” is simply a euphemism women use so men do not complain ahead of time.
Anyway, back to my suggestions.
First, if you are new to the outlet mall experience, it is important to establish low expectations for your capabilities. I long ago made it clear that walking on concrete for long periods of time, stopping and starting to look in store windows or merchandise displays, resulted in foot pain. Foot pain causes me to move slower and slower and to become more vocal with sighs and groans. This becomes annoying to anyone expecting you to participate actively in shopping. With expectations managed, you should be allowed to sit somewhere comfortable for the duration.
Come prepared. Bring a book. Better yet, bring an iPad or computer and a phone that can serve as a mobile hotspot. Remember that being on the Internet for several hours places a great strain on your batteries so make certain your device has been charged or bring a cord. If you forget your cord, a depleted battery may also shorten the time you must stay. Make sure your phone is charged so that you can announce that your laptop has no more power and you can find nothing more to do.
Second, search for a food court. Many outlet malls have one. If you can find a food court you are golden and can survive for hours. There may be other mall husbands hanging out as well. Sit toward the outside away from the food stores. DO NOT make the cardinal mistake of immediately ordering a meal. Remember, you are here to pass the time and SAMPLE. If you feel conspicuous you can immediately purchase a soda to sip while you work on other things and carefully survey your options. Once you are familiar with your surroundings, work slowly. Perhaps a hamburger first. Wait a bit and then perhaps a chocolate dipped, ice cream cone. Some malls have a Starbucks next to the food court. Usually, the Starbucks will be in a separate room. You can pass an entire afternoon in such a setup. Visit the Starbucks to have a latte and use the wifi. Move into the food court for a little Chinese (the three selection option and not the four) and station yourself at a table near the Starbucks so you can make use of the wifi. Remember, slow and steady.
Finally, when your significant other returns with her treasures never comment on the quantity or ask about price. This will likely result in an invitation to participate more accurately and will not matter anyway. Offer to help carry the bags to the car.
I hope these recommendations are helpful. These are only general guidelines and you will have to make adjustments based on your surroundings and personal needs.