A habit can be replaced by a new one in three weeks. We’ve been “In- this-together,” since March, and It’s now August, 2020. We walk in the air-conditioned enclosed mall, during these hot months in Phoenix. The Paradise Valley Mall will be closed in the coming year, thus, many stores have relocated, creating a weird experience. It seems all the shoppers have vanished, replaced by us “zombie-like” creatures in masks: black masks, polkadot masks, plaid masks, floral masks, patriotic masks. People avoid eye contact and steer away from oncoming walkers. Urb recalls a zombie movie where the zombies walk in malls, because that was their habits as live creatures.
Three kiosks are open in the walkway, giving them access to walkers of both directions. Three young men of Middle Eastern heritage have been with the store for many years. They must be 2nd generation aggressive sellers, for two guys prepare as we approach. One says, “Hello young lovers.” The other holds a sample of something. Masked, my walker as my shield, Urb at my side I respond, “No, thank you.” I feel victorious. Social distance, my vindication.
The first time I experience the kiosk guys, was fifteen years ago, when I am shopping with two year old Zane. Two salesmen block my passage, one squirts perfume on me and another places hand cream on top of my hand. My two year old grandson recognizes a perfect escape-from-grandma moment. I struggle past the kiosk attackers while reaching for Zane’s little hand with my lotion slippery hand. This toddler is quick, and I am prepared for the chase. The aggressive salesmen try to block my passage. I dodge them, needing to go after my little runner, who has stopped at the play yard, our original destination.