Mall Justice Is Swift And Harsh

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Vol 33 Issue 11

Olympic Speed Skater Thinking About Maybe Taking Out The Garbage

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO—U.S. Olympic speed skater Jared Wells, 24, who placed sixth in the 500-meter sprint at last month's Nagano Games, is reportedly thinking about maybe taking out the garbage. "Yeah, those pizza boxes are really starting to pile up there," said Wells, speaking from his living-room couch. "I guess I should take care of that. But first I'm gonna finish building this house made out of Entertainment Weekly subscription-card inserts."

Governor Pardons Self For Living

LANSING, MI—Michigan governor John Engler issued a formal pardon to himself for living Tuesday. "Like, excuse me for living, okay?" read the four-page pardon, which absolves Engler from all culpability in his own existence. "I guess I'm not God. Hope that's okay with everybody." The sneering, sarcastic tone of the gubernatorial pardon is believed to be a reaction to the widespread criticism leveled at Engler in recent weeks, including a Lansing News-Clarion editorial calling him "Governor Lame-o" and a report by Detroit's NBC-TV affiliate suggesting that he "get half a clue." "I am sooo sorry I didn't live up to your expectations," Engler said.

Ganymede Totalled In Three-Moon Pileup

PALO ALTO, CA—Astronomers at the Palo Alto Observatory are citing "lunar error" as the cause of the three-moon pileup that totalled Ganymede and severely dented Callisto and Europa Monday, causing an estimated $700 quadrillion in damage. "Apparently, a comet passed within Saturn's orbit just ahead of Callisto," Observatory associate director Charles Rayburn said, "causing Callisto to swerve and lose control, colliding with Europa and creating a pileup which Ganymede struck from behind." None of the three moons were insured.

Area Grandparents Still Have No Idea What Grandson Does For A Living

BOSTON—Sources confirmed Monday that Walter and Nancy Brandt, grandparents of Boston-area systems consultant Charles Brandt, 31, still do not have the slightest idea what their grandson does for a living. "We are very proud of our Charles," said Nancy, 82. "Whatever he does in that job of his, I'm sure it's very impressive." Said Walter: "I think what Charles does is make sure companies have enough computers and employees so that they can—oh, I haven't a clue." The couple also has no idea what their granddaughter, Erica Haselrig, a Lodi, NJ, human-resources supervisor, does for a living.

Sudanese Youths Go Wild For Great Taste Of Any Food Whatsoever

KHARTOUM, SUDAN—In the biggest fad to sweep Sudan's thrill-seeking teens since 1994's "extreme thirst" craze, youths in this Northeast African nation are going wild for the great taste of any food whatsoever. The new "absolutely anything edible" fad is reflected in current Sudanese youth fashions, dominated by neon-colored, zebra-striped hats and shirts featuring slogans like, "Do you have any food?" and "I am extremely hungry." Sociologist Gavin Werner of Tufts University explained the craze: "For these young people, such fads are a way of setting themselves apart from their parents and forging a generational identity of their own. They are also starving to death and must obtain food if they are to live much longer."

Appeasing The Ignorant Masses

So, my despised arch-enemy and rival in the news-paper trade William Randolph Hearst thinks he can single-handedly stop The Onion dead in its tracks by putting that vulgar "Yellow-Kid" comical drawing panel in his New-York Journal?

It's True (Or Drew) Love!

Item! Has heavyweight funnyman Drew Carrey finally found love? According to my reliable sources, he sure has! The grapevine tells me that Carrey has been spotted about town on the arm of the redheaded woman from that Brooke Shields show. To date, they've gone bowling, eaten pizza–hold the anchovies!–and taken in a movie. Honestly, I can't think of a better match than those two. I mean, can you imagine the jokes? Oh, to be a fly on the wall on one of their dates!

Ask A Wiccan

Morganna Goldenwand is a syndicated advice columnist whose weekly column, Ask A Wiccan, appears in over three newspapers nationwide. She is also the author of Tread Lightly: A Guide To The Sacred Woodland Glades Of Upper Illinois, and has just released a CD, Blessed Morning!, a collection of Celtic chants accompanied by crystal Tibetan singing bowls.
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Mall Justice Is Swift And Harsh

My name is Stanchion. I walk a cruel beat. I do not work in an office cubicle or behind a counter. The promenades and boutiques of Clover Square Mall are my home. I am a mall security guard.

Don't thank me. I'm not in it for the accolades. If you just respect your fellow shoppers and throw away your cups when you're finished, that's all the thanks I need.

Monday, 12:14 p.m. I am dispatched to Orange Julius on a disturbance call. A Caucasian woman in her early 30s is complaining about a hair in her drink. I can hear her carrying on all the way from The Sunglass Hut. But when she lays eyes on my uniform, she gets quiet real quick and starts listening to reason. She might have torn the place apart if I hadn't been there.

Monday, 2:33 p.m. I get a report of a dog entering the mall at the Sears lower-level entrance. Arriving on the scene, I see an adult golden retriever leading a blind African-American male in his late 50s. Seeing-eye dogs are the one exception to the mall's strict no-pets rule. Crisis averted.

I can still remember my first day on the job. It was trial by fire. Not an hour after my shift started, I exited the service corridor and saw some kids walking up the down escalator. Escalators were apparently a big joke to them. A big joke until they got a taste of mall justice, Stanchion style. I told them that if I ever saw their faces around there again, they'd better not be heading up the down escalator. That straightened them out, but good.

I see the would-be troublemakers every day, those who would shout or litter or run. Then there are the punks who think it's funny to throw wadded-up mall maps or Arby's wrappers off the level-two balcony at helpless passersby. When they see me, a kind of resentment flares up in their eyes. They see me, and they know: Bud is here, and that garbage isn't gonna fly. Their twisted idea of "fun" is not welcome here.

It all started when I was a young boy. Every Saturday, my mother would take me to the mall. My pulse quickened at the sight of the Kay-Bee Toy & Hobby Shop and Dream Machine video arcade. But more than anything, the mall security guards fascinated me. Their crisp uniforms, their regal bearing, that sense of purpose–these were leaders among men.

Then, one Saturday, when I was eight or so, some bullies from school grabbed my hat and ran off with it. A security guard not only stopped them, but told them to give my hat back. I knew right then and there what I would grow up to do.

Today, I have achieved my dream. But do not think it is all glory and parades. My life is a hard one. Without me, there would be anarchy. Anarchy stretching from the J.C. Penney perfume counter to the Suncoast Motion Picture Company, and extending well into the Nordstrom's parking lot. Not in my mall. Over my cold, dead cadaver will teens loiter in the food court. It's not fun telling them to buy something or leave. But if I don't, who will?

There is a T.G.I. Friday's next to the movie theater, and that means mall drunks–the lowest form of life. Last month, a group of such persons decided to "have a few" before tottering off to see The Wedding Singer, and they came out so inebriated that one of the young ladies accidentally walked into Foot Locker, apparently mistaking it for the movie theater. I apprehended the drunk and advised her of the proper facility. Case closed.

Christmas time is the worst. Twice the bodies, 10 times the potential for chaos. I can feel the tension mount the day after Thanksgiving, when Santa's Workshop goes up. That's the day I start going on Vivarin to keep myself alert through the five-week marathon. December is a blur, a roiling river of people, ever threatening to overflow its banks and destroy the carefully maintained paradise that is mall life. Security is doubled for the holidays, but I wish it were tripled. I can only be in one place at a time.

Monday, 5:04 p.m. I pass by Electronics Boutique. Part of me wants to stop and face my demons, but I cannot bring myself to do it. I walk past the store without looking. More than two years later, the memories are still too painful, the wounds too fresh.

Thursday, November 3, 1995. Early afternoon. I have been working as a security guard at Clover Square Mall for two, maybe three months. The world is my oyster. I veer off my usual route and stop for a Mountain Dew at Mrs. Fields.

As I lean against the counter, shooting the breeze with Gail, I hear a distinctive clap-clap sound coming from the direction of Electronics Boutique. That sound can only mean one thing–running. Past Waldenbooks, Eddie Bauer, Lane Bryant and Sbarro runs a young Caucasian male. Paul, the assistant manager of Electronics Boutique, is pursuing him. I give chase, but I am too late. The perpetrator has escaped with a brand-new copy of Madden '96.

YOU COULD HAVE BEEN THERE. I was young, damn it. YOU COULD HAVE STOPPED HIM. I am a human being, not a god. HE IS OUT THERE STILL. I don't know that.

Stop, I tell myself. Wrestle with those demons on your own time. You have a job to do, a mall to protect.

Although I admit it to no one, I still find myself wishing that shoplifter would return. Return and take on the older, wiser Bud Stanchion. Then, at long last, I would have a chance to conquer my dark side and feel alive once again. Then, I could finally spend my nights watching television or reading a book like a normal person, rather than obsessively going over the mall layout, planning heists and plotting getaways in an attempt to understand and anticipate my foe's every move.

There are 120 stores in Clover Square Mall, and a million stories. Mine is an age-old one, the story of good struggling against evil in the clean-swept arena of suburban retail. If I could be in every mall, everywhere, I would. But I cannot. It is up to all of us.

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