Written by Alex Aloi
To say that the mall was full of people would have been an understatement: The management feared that if any more entered, flailing limbs would be dangling from burst windows. To say that people were angry would also have been an understatement. Of all the voices in the mall, not a single one spoke in a pleasant tone. From Macy’s to Dick’s Sporting Goods, the only intelligible sounds were screams of “Move it jackass!” and “Out of my way!” It was almost as if every person in the mall had spent the previous day having a particularly long dinner with their particularly annoying in-laws, waiting for grandpa’s hand to shakily finish carving the turkey or slip and hit someone in the eye to create any distraction at all.
Into this hellish abyss of shopping and 50 percent off stickers walked the Johnson family: Mr. Johnson, Mrs. Johnson, Jimmy and Caroline. The family had adorned themselves with brochures, backpacks, binoculars, and despite the frigid weather, Hawaiian shirts and shorts. Except, of course, Caroline who dressed in her usual black outfit, black lipstick and black hair dye – her signature style that she refers to as being “in perpetual mourning for society’s good sense.”
“Wow, would you look at that!” said Mr. Johnson, his finger pointing outwards towards the throngs of distressed customers. “Just look at all those shoppers! Everyone wave to the shoppers!”
Mr. Johnson waved his hand back and forth like a child who had just gotten on the bus for the first time in his life unaware of the unending hell awaiting him. It had long been the opinion of those who knew Mr. Johnson that if you were to crack his head open, instead of a brain you would find an assortment of lawn clippings, baseball cards, a sheet of football statistics and more good cheer than could be considered healthy (before you laugh at that, keep in mind that one of his friends was an educated neurosurgeon who quite frankly should have known better) .
“Hey, look! A shoplifter!” said Mr. Johnson, pointing to a man with a noticeable bulge under his winter coat. “Wave hi to the shoplifter Jimmy!”
Jimmy, no more than four, waved at the shoplifter as he was asked, until he spotted a toy store. It was at this point that he began clawing at his father’s leg and pleading to be taken there.
Caroline took one look around the mall and scrunched up her nose. “Look at them,” she said, “fawning over their toys and games like good little capitalist sheep.”
“That’s the same thing you said when we went to Disney World,” said her mother.
“That doesn’t make it any less true,” retorted Caroline.
“Hey honey!” said Mr. Johnson, “get the camera and get a picture of me and Jimmy with one of these disgruntled shoppers!”
He picked up his son and sat him on his shoulder. Jimmy took one last longing look at the toy store before fixing his face into a grimace mirroring that of the shopper Mr. Johnson was trying very hard to pose next to.
Unfortunately for Mr. Johnson, not one of the shoppers was in any mood to put up with him. And so Mr. Johnson decided to force them to acknowledge him. First, he sent Jimmy back to his mother and sister. Next, he put on his biggest, dumbest smile ever and cut into the line.
The resulting riot was described by one onlooker as “an unholy mess of blood, bruises, swearing, and shopping bags that spread to the rest of the mall like wildfire.” The responding riot police described it as “the third damned call we got that day and don’t think it was the last, goddamned greedy Christmas shoppers.” And the Johnson family (with the exception of Mr. Johnson, who will be spending a lot of time in an orange suit) described it as “still better than that time we vacationed in Cleveland.”