10 December 2008

Just When You Thought it was Safe to Return to the Mall

We recently had a fatal shooting at a mall in the Seattle area. Truth be known, I worked at this very mall for about ten years, having left there this past summer only because the company for which I worked fifteen years decided to close our store location. This had nothing to do with the current economic situation. This was a matter of one company doing a non-hostile takeover after a merger several years ago. Turns out, it does feel rather hostile, after all, to the thousands of people left without jobs, once they did away with our executives and office staff and started closing all the existing store locations they viewed as superfluous. It'd be different if the company that took over was doing well, but they are not. They took over a company that has been around since before the Great Depression and has weathered many an economic storm and still remained profitable. The same thing could not be said of the parent company, who is becoming increasingly endebted to an Australian company that keeps bailing them out. Eventually, no doubt, when you go into their stores, they'll be greeting you thus: "G'day, mates."

All that aside, the shooting at this mall at the south end of Seattle, was gang-related and had nothing to do with corporate takeovers. It involved underage teens shooting underage teens. Two male teens were shot. One died; the other is still recovering from his gunshot wound. The shooter has been apprehended and has pleaded "not guilty," of course. After the shooting, the police had to put the mall into a state of lockdown and search the entire mall area, looking for anyone connected to the shooting. This was on a busy Saturday just before the Thanksgiving holidays, so of course, merchants lost oodles of money and mall customers lost oodles of confidence in the mall's security. But short of having metal detectors going into the malls, how is anybody supposed to prevent something like that from happening? It doesn't lead to a safe feeling.

Earlier this year, the mall went through something similar. The main difference is that no one died. I was working the night of that shooting and subsequent lockdown. I was the manager in charge and had to huddle a couple dozen captive customers in my store for four hours while we waited for the police to search the mall for the shooter. It's a big mall. Thank goodness we had a bathroom in our store. Not all of the stores do. It was nearly one in the morning before I was able to get in my car and begin the hour-long drive home to the safety of my house on the Kitsap Peninsula. When I got home, I immediately got online and sent a quick email to my mother. I didn't say anything about the shooting. I just wanted her to hear from me at a time that was clearly after the shooting incident. That way if she heard about it on the news, which wasn't likely since she lives on the opposite side of the country, she would know at least that I was alive. If she didn't hear about it on the news, I wasn't going to tell her about it and make her worry. I did finally tell her about it after I was no longer working there.

All this drama can't compare to a situation that occurred this week in a mall in Bangladesh. It seems that a bull got loose and went storming through the mall, wreaking general havoc amongst shoppers and causing damage to shops. No one was injured fortunately. Ahem. They do live in a different world over there, do they not? I mean, I've had plenty of experience with service dogs in my store, but never a service bull. As it turns out, it was not a service bull at all. Or maybe it was performing the ultimate act of service. It was on its way to be slaughtered to provide meat for the poor. Maybe it had gotten wind of its fate so it went on one last shopping rampage. Maybe it had simply heard about the sales. I don't know why it charged on the mall, but what truly puzzles me is how it charged the mall at all. Is this an outdoor mall, or did someone hold the door open for it? The article I read said that it was a "posh shopping mall" where this happened. I guess we define posh differently over here, or we don't use the word at all, lest we want to be subject to lots of sniggering behind hands. I just don't think of cattle markets and shopping malls as subjects that belong in the same paragraph, much less the same sentence. So which is worse? To be trampled by a rogue bull? Or shot by a stray bullet from a teenage gang member's gun? Hmm. I think I'll stick to shopping online for now.

If you'd like more bull, check out the article at:

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