The Best of Comrus: The Parenthetical Mall of America Food Court Rant

This post originally appeared on January 21, 2007 at 

Oh, yeah.  A weblog.  I used to have one of those.  I’m not sure what happened to it.  Maybe it might have suffered from actual employment.  Although, using the word “actual” is a little sketchy, given the fact that I’m only technically (two “ly” words in a row just doesn’t work, does it?) a “contract attorney.”  For those not in the know (and I certainly wasn’t until I finally started looking for a job), basically means a temp-attorney.  Just like temp workers, with the exception of admission to the Bar and scale of pay, temp-attorneys are given monotonous grunt work.  To make it worse, the employment is with a high-powered law firm who pays their attorneys about 654 times what they pay us.  However, I do take solace in the fact that I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to work for the firm.

Well, I also take solace in the fact that I’m still getting paid reasonably well.  Unfortunately, though, it’s only a temp position, so this is no way to make a living.  It’s just a way to get by and pay off some credit card bills.  The student loans still await.

But hey, yeah, the whole working a monotonous job has basically limited the range of possible thoughts and creativity.  As such, even if I have a topic for a weblog, it really just sits on my desktop taunting me.  Topics are one thing, writing a full piece is another.  For instance, my wife and myself made the mistake of visiting the Mall of America yesterday for our normal Sbarro’s/Panda Express visits (just guess who goes to which).  This is a topic I’ve written on a few times in the past, and to my chagrin, the mall was completely packed. 

Now, in a normal post, I would rant about this, and about the absolutely freakingly annoying teen girls in front of me at Sbarro’s (and, oh my Bob, were they annoying.  I’m a stickler for line protocol, and when someone steps out of line (sometimes literally), I just want to slap them.  The girls here, for whatever reason, decided that moving up in line when people in front of them moved up was a silly concept.  Instead, they decided it a million times better to stay in their same position and continue gabbing about I don’t know what.  Of course, while this would have been thoroughly annoying in itself, I was at the MOA, and a packed one at that.  As such, my two annoying teenage females had some help.  A father walked up to Sbarro’s with his two kids and instead of standing in line, decided to walk up close to the storefront to survey the merchandise.  Yeah, pizza.  Hard decision.  Must get up very close to determine exactly what Sbarro’s had to offer.  And then he just stood there, a foot or so to the side of the girls. 

And here’s where (is it against procedure to start a new paragraph in the middle of a parenthesis?) the girls truly abandoned line protocol.  Instead of securing their position in line by moving up a bit, or making it clear that they were next, they continued to stand there and gab.  WHY WEREN’T THESE GIRLS AT PANDA?!?!  The father looked to be a threat to cut in line.  I was already waiting in line for way too long (in the sense that there was a line to begin with.  I mean, seriously, why was the MOA so busy?  As far as I remember, Christmas was last month.  Yeah, I know, I know, it’s kind of cold out, but what exactly has the MOA to offer that means the parking lots will be completely full, and the food court packed at 1:00?), and I was actually about to part with my normal passiveness and tell the father to shove off.  Well, I was more about to ask the girls if they were planning on continuing to stay in the line, as that would have been more polite, but then the father finally moved and took the spot in line behind me.  I was saved.  Almost.

The girls still hadn’t moved up, and there was absolutely no one in front of the serving guy.  They were next, yet refused to acknowledge that being next meant they had the responsibility of following through in being next.  To make matters worse, they were facing more toward me, behind them, than they were toward Sbarro’s.  They must have seen the anguish in my face, and one of them finally turned around and ordered.  The other, however refrained from ordering.  Apparently she wasn’t going to be eating then.  Well, that’s fine with me.  Anyway, yes Sbarro’s man, a slice of cheese and a couple breadsticks (it’s sad that every time I go to Sbarro’s at the MOA I ponder whether or not I actually have to tell them what I want instead of them just giving it to me). 

Thinking that my line protocol worries were over, I started to move over to the next guy to ask for some sauce for the sticks.  Sadly, however, the non-ordering female decided that now was the time to order.  Since this was a service line, I couldn’t just jump past her, especially since that would mean cutting in between the two females (although, in retrospect, that’s probably what I should have done), and the fact that I still needed my sauce.  The girls finally moved over to the register to pay, and waited to do absolutely anything until they were told their totals.  Both of them finally pulled their purses off of their shoulders, took a long time in opening them, searched them to find the wallet, opened the wallet, searched for the money inside the standard far-too-large-wallet-slash-checkbook-that-women-tend-to-carry, and finally handed the cashiers their cash (with the extended effort of finding change within their wallets with which to pay with.  Seriously, women.  Change is meant to sit in a drawer or jar for years, and then cashing in eventually at a bank, it is not meant to be used as currency).  Woo-hoo, I’m nearly to the cashier myself! 

I really had been deluding myself repeatedly during this whole process, because I had neglected to notice that the girls had not yet grabbed napkins, straws, plasticware, or their drinks.  Additionally, I forgot that they had to do the whole payment process thing in reverse.

Nearly in tears, I approached the cashier after the girls left, and made the transaction within seconds.  I think he felt for me.

So then I had to find a table in the zoo that was the food court (seriously, “zoo”?  Why “zoo”?  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bunch of anything packed together in a zoo.  Most often what I see is an empty field, besides which is an informational plaque telling me what I should be seeing if the animal hadn’t done the wise thing and disappear from sight).  In a way, it was a good thing that Panda and Sbarro’s are at opposite ends, since that allowed me to walk towards my wife and still look for a table.  There was nothing.  Absolutely nothing at all.

And then my eyes spied an opening, a table right in the middle of the walkway.  Fantastic!  I could sit down (how simple my happiness after the horror that was Sbarro’s)!  As usual, however, in a food court land, the table was covered in so much food-product that it had to be sandblasted in order to not have to vaccinate oneself before even thinking of sitting down (and how does this happen, one would normally ask.  I mean, they give you plates, trays, and napkins.  The food itself usually is created in such a way as to not spill.  So, how does this happen – again, one would normally ask.  Me, I just accept).  I used my extra napkins, happy I grabbed extra, to clean off at least the non-sticky substances on top of the table.  The sticky stuff, that would just have to stay.  There was no moving, after all.  And then I proceeded to wait 10 minutes for my wife who, while she did not have a similar experience to the horror that was Sbarro’s, apparently had an extremely long line.  Seriously, pizza vs. Chinese food?  How does Chinese food win?  Really, I’m just glad it does, or else I’d have even more lines at Sbarro’s), but I just don’t have the mindset or patience to write about them.  Or, for that matter, about the predictably dirty table that I came upon as the only oasis of the food court. 


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