Thursday, September 25, 2008

Operation Observation

Barton Creek Square Mall


9:44 AM

I park in the Sears parking lot. Gathering my materials, I exit my vehicle. I step foot onto the worn asphalt, lock my car, and proceed towards the Sears entrance.

9:46 AM

A man in a red Ford pick-up truck parks in front of the Sears entrance. He spots a stranded Sears cart in the parking lot. He attaches the Sears cart to a strand of interlocked shopping carts. The man jumps into his truck and drives off.

9:50 AM

A mother and her two daughters sit on a brown leather couch in front of SEARS. The mother feeds her children a healthy breakfast: a large mixed fruit cup. The family seems to be middle class; the mother wears a pink, Ralph Lauren Polo and a tan miniskirt, one daughter wears a conservative pastel full-length dress, and the other wears pants with a red “LOVE” shirt.

9:55 AM

Two middle-aged women exercise on the lower level of the mall. Both wear white sleeveless shirts with black Capri pants and white tennis shoes. They walk in unison at a steady pace. The black tiled border along the perimeter of the mall acts as their guide.

11:40 AM

An old man wearing a plaid maroon short-sleeve shirt, beige Dockers, and brown dress shoes, leans against the railing on the second level next to an escalator. The old man must have just eaten lunch; he twirls a toothpick in his mouth. He seems to not be full and may be craving dessert; the old man stares at the young voluptuous women riding up the escalator. He focuses his eyes on the women like a vulture would its prey. The old man runs his eyes up and down the young women’s bodies. He continues to twirl his toothpick. The old man continues his hobby for about twenty minutes before retiring. Is he going home, or is he relocating?

12:14 PM

It is rush hour at the food court; the lines are long and most tables are occupied. Two Asian women circulate the food court. They notice most restaurants are providing customers with free samples. They stop and indulge on a sample from Quizno’s Classic Subs. They are suddenly drawn to a man’s voice: “Yummy, Yummy Chicken!” The two Asian women make their way towards the free “yummy chicken” sample at Sarku Japan. They finish with a sample of a strawberry and banana smoothie from Frullati Café and Bakery. We make eye contact. The two Asian women realize that I have been observing them. They laugh. I grin.


3:30 PM

A middle-aged man on the second level waits for his wife outside The Limited. He notices the benches are occupied. The benches and trashcans are indiscriminately covered in mahogany. The middle-aged man shrugs his shoulders and sits on the trashcan located near a railing. He begins tapping on the trashcan as if it were a drum. The middle-aged man continues drumming as he leans his head over the railing to observe shoppers on the first level. A teenage girl with a drink in her hand approaches the middle-aged man. She disposes her Chick-fil-A cup by throwing it in the trashcan and continues walking. Ten minutes later, the middle-aged man’s wife exits The Limited. They converse for a few seconds and then make their way towards the food court.

3:43 PM

A young boy holds his mother’s hand as they walk on the second level towards where I am sitting, outside Bebe Sport. The young boy seems to be in a happy mood; he has a slight skip in his stride and a large smile on his face. The young boy’s eyes light up when he notices a row of potted plants along the railing. He begins to pet the plants along his path. His mother says, “Don’t touch the plants!” The young boy disobeys and pets the following potted plant.

3:57 PM

The SUV of strollers zooms by in front of Pottery Barn. It is purple, extra wide, equipped with a sun visor, and wheels similar to those on a bicycle. Two infants dressed in blue jumpers are the passengers. The mother is forced to make a sharp turn to avoid the on-coming traffic of shoppers. She then has trouble maneuvering between kiosks located in the center of the walkways. She succeeds and makes her way into Brookstone.

4:15 PM

A group of teenage boys wearing oversized clothing spots a red, car shaped children’s stroller. The teenage boys take turns pushing and riding in the red kiddy cart on the lower level. Their legs protrude from the stroller as they race down the walkways. People around them seem not to pay any attention. Is this behavior common? Is it allowed? Where are the security guards?


7:47 PM

A Toni and Guy hairdresser sits on a bench outside the salon. She opens up a DVD player and pops in a DVD. The hairdresser holds a manual in her left hand as she views a video. Images of a man’s hair being styled flash on the tiny screen. The hairdresser takes notes. Is watching this a video a requirement for Toni and Guy stylists?

8:11 PM

A young man in the food court wears his messenger bag as he gobbles a fully loaded hotdog with fries and large drink. He pays no attention to his surroundings, but simply stares at his food. He looks at his watch and then takes a large bite out of his hotdog. Seven minutes later, he crumbles his hotdog and fries wrappers, takes a last sip of his drink and discards them in the nearest trashcan. He looks at his watch one last time, adjusts his messenger bag, and leaves the food court in the direction towards Armani Exchange.

8:19 PM

A cosmetic salesman on the first level aggressively approaches a young woman with beauty products. The startled woman awkwardly escapes to Solstace Sunglass Boutique as she nods her head. The salesman complains to a worker in the next kiosk. The adjacent worker shrugs his shoulders. Both mall employees return to their carts.

8:30 PM

An Auntie Anne’s worker on the second level sits on the ordering counter. She begins cleaning one of the two ICEE machines. A few minutes later, a customer approaches the counter. The worker jumps off the counter, wipes her hand on her white apron, and attends to the customer. After the customer receives his order, the worker jumps back onto the counter and finishes cleaning the ICEE machine.

9:00 PM

“Thank you for shopping at Nordstrom. At this time please make final purchases; we will be closing soon. The next time we can service you will be: September 17, 2008 at 10:00 AM.” I exit Nordstrom with a group of friends and get in a Honda SUV. We somehow get lost in the mall parking lot; we enter a wrong lane. A black cat crosses in front of car. Is the cat a negative omen? We finally figure out how to exit the parking lot and get onto Loop 1.

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