Friday, May 06, 2005


Ever since I lost my keys a few weeks ago, I've missed the little Swiss Army knife I kept on the keyring. There are a dozen times each day when having something small, sharp, hard and/or pointy comes in very handy, whether it be for snipping a tag off a new shirt or tightening a loose screw on a drawer handle. So yesterday evening I walked down to my local mega-mall to see if I could find a replacement. By the time I returned, I felt a deep need to a) write this and b) take a shower and scrub myself raw trying to get the dirt off.

Why I Hate Going to Carousel Shopping Centre

1. The people

Teenage girls with their fat blooming out over the tops of their hipster jeans. Sullen men being dragged around the shops by their savagely bleached blonde girlfriends. Skinny white boys playing at being gangstas. Zit-encrusted young love. Morbidly obese women buying junk food. Glaring Muslim men stalking through the department stores with their womenfolk trailing the correct number of footsteps behind them.

2. The layout

The malls are reasonably wide, but Centre Management has cluttered them up with innumerable juice bars, watch repair kiosks, sunglass stands and those stalls selling plastic crap to tart up your mobile phone (as if your accessories need accessories of their own). As a result, put one old lady with a walker into the crowd, and these bottlenecks will actually become gridlocks. Trying to get from one end of the complex to the other is like trying to drive a tanker truck through the centre of Rome during rush hour.

3. The merchanise

So. Much. Junk. They're products that exist solely to be bought, rather than to be used. There's shopfront after shopfront of novelties, fads, junk jewelry, disposable clothing and that most satanic of retail categories, "giftware". I wonder how much of the Earth's resources is being sacrificed to produce glittery, tawdry crap that will almost certainly be landfill within ten years.

4. The ethos

I went into Grannny May's to see if they had a replacement for the tiny, broken propelling pencil I keep in my wallet. For those of you not familiar with the franchise, Granny May's is what Hell's giftshop would look like if all their buying was done by a really shallow and obnoxious twelve year old girl. I figured that maybe since my pencil was cute and Japanese, there was an outside chance they might have something similar.

The man behind the counter beamed at me. "Good evening, sir."

I beamed back. "Good evening. I was wondering if you stock anything similar to this?" I held out my broken pencil for him to see.

But at about the word 'wondering', his smile had frozen. Why are you asking me a question?, he seemed to be silently demanding. You don't need to ask questions in order to buy something. You come in, you are distracted by one of the shiny things, and you buy it. Why are you here if not to make some impulse purchase? That's not in the script! How dare you not follow the script!

"No, we don't," he said, in a distinctly less-friendly tone.

"Any idea where I could find one?" I asked.

"Try Kmart," he said, with a subtle, unspoken undertone of 'Get the hell out of my shop, you deviant.'

And the whole of Carousel is like that. You go in, you're distracted by a shiny thing, and you buy it. If you don't, you are probably getting in the way of people who do and you should therefore be banished as soon as possible.

Certainly you shouldn't go in actually looking for something specific. You should just be drawn in by the bright lights and noise, like the Eloi being summoned by the Morlocks, and disencumber yourself of money.

Frankly I'm not just annoyed that I occasionally have to go there. I'm offended by the fact that the place exists at all. If I had a vast personal fortune, it'd be satisfying to build a rival shopping centre to my own specifications. If a potential vendor couldn't actually tell me what his shop would sell (like 'candles', 'furniture' or 'books') then he wouldn't be allowed to open in my centre. If he was foolish enough to tell me that his shop would sell 'gifts' or 'novelties', I would go so far as to have him killed, so that he couldn't take his wretched merchandise to another, less discerning centre. That's how much I care.

Oh, and I did get a replacement knife. The forces of retail evil are obviously not omnipotent.


Blogger phaedrus said...

If I had enough money (and had, of course, solved the problem of world hunger) I would build a huge shopping mall with all the amenities. And not let anybody in.

3 stories, 200 stores! A waterfall and river made of chocolate! And the best part... It's all for me!

Hmm.. I might have to hire someone to make sure nobody breaks in.

10:42 PM  
Blogger Laziest Girl said...

If I had enough money (and had, of course, solved the problem of world hunger) I would build a huge shopping centre that did not play elevator music. There is no thing more evil than elevator music - it makes my very soul scream in agony.

Honestly, why play a xylophone version of "Michelle" by the Beatles? It's not like the lyrics are offensive - at least play the real thing. And if "Like a Virgin" is offensive, spare us from it. Please don't play a version recorded by the Chipmunks.

8:56 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home