Adventures in a Mall: A Tale of Security and Cameras.

Dora and Diego have adventures when they’re not even trying to have adventures.

My friend Margaret and I picked Mike up this afternoon, geared up for a day of shopping at the ever-wonderful Viewmont Mall. I needed to finish (read: start) my Christmas shopping, so what better way to shop than with two of my favorite people?

At first, we did exactly what we had intended. I bought my mom an electric frying pan from Sears, and I was so delighted that the cashier insisted on texting instead of getting through my transaction. She should get a great Christmas bonus. What a saleswoman! We also went to Spencer’s, where I got a nifty pair of sunglasses (complete with mustache), and Mike got a book with the best Spanish phrases I’ve ever seen.

By then we needed to go to the car to drop off the frying pan. The stellar cashier had put my purchase in too small of a bag, and my fingers were turning festive colors while I tried to carry it.

We got to the car, and as I put the package in the backseat I happened to glance at my camera sitting so angelically in its bag. It was time to play paparazzi.

Mike and Margaret took on the air of two hassled Hollywood stars, and I took on the persona of a very odd celebrity stalker and photographer. I followed from a reasonable distance, snapping happily as I went. I followed them into American Eagle and Aeropostale, and all the while Mike was muttering about not being able to have a normal outing. We were having loads of fun, and then I heard it. “Miss. Miss. MISS!”

I was too intent on getting my shot to consider that the “miss” this man was referring to could actually be me. More because it was an annoyance than anything, I turned toward the noise. Maybe I had dropped my lens cap? I came face-to-face with a man in a white uniform. “You can’t take pictures in the mall.”

Really? No, really? You stalked me and accosted me because I was taking pictures? “Okay.”

“You can’t take pictures unless you have approval from mall management.”

“Okay.”

I power-walked in the direction of Mike and Margaret, who had ducked into Hallmark. They were climbing over displays in order to escape me, but I finally yelled, “GUYS! I need to talk to you. We have a problem.”

I explained the incident with the mall cop, and as I turned to look out the door, I saw the very same “officer” pacing the length of the storefront. “Um, why don’t we look at some cards?” I said, still looking out the door.

We retreated into the back of the store. I was the first to speak. “What are we going to do?”

Mike said, “Well, I can put it around my neck, zip up my jacket, and we’ll all leave.”

I stole another glance of the door. There were now two mall cops swarming the waters like sharks waiting for a school of minnows.

Margaret brought me back. “Why don’t we go get your purse and hide it in there?”

I took my camera off of my neck and opened the memory card slot. I took the primary memory card out–the one with the pictures–and replaced it with the secondary card, which was empty. I stuck the primary card in my pocket and handed the camera to Mike. “We’ll be back.”

We left Mike to guard the camera while Margaret and I swam past the sharks, who seemed to have temporarily disappeared, likely distracted by someone who was chewing gum too loudly or otherwise enjoying their civil liberties.

When we got to the car, I tucked my memory card into my camera bag. I grabbed my purse. Margaret and I seriously discussed the possibility of “mall jail” and how much we’d have to pay for bail. Where do you think it is? Will they accept credit cards? Do you think these guys need to get hobbies?

At the very least, we’d still have pictures of the event. They couldn’t confiscate anything because there wasn’t anything to confiscate. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, sir. I didn’t take any pictures. Look. Empty memory card.”

We were discussing who we’d call for our “one call” in mall jail when I thought to check my phone. I already had one missed call from Mike, and we’d only been gone for five minutes. “MARGARET. THEY TOOK HIM. HE’S IN MALL JAIL.”

We couldn’t call back. What if the officer interrogated us? Instead we stealthily weaved in and out of kiosks on our way back to Hallmark, hoping that the mall cops had miraculously discovered their hobby while we were absent. Not the case.

Two security guards (still the same mall cops… I needed a synonym for “mall cop,” and I thought “neanderthal” might have been offensive) were deep in conversation, and one was holding up a walkie-talkie. I stopped walking and ducked behind the calendar booth. “I can’t do this, Margaret. I can’t. Here, take it. Take my purse.”

I chanced calling Mike. “Admiral Mo is en route with the parcel. I’ll be browsing calendars when the transaction occurs. Over and out.”

The Indian man running the calendar stand shot me a suspicious look, so I opted for the bench outside of Aerie that had a full view of the Hallmark storefront without being too noticeable.

Meanwhile, in Hallmark, a mall cop entered the store, spoke to the employees, looked and Mike, and said, “A2 to A5…” as he walked out and took up his regular post. The employees looked at Mike and Margaret and talked amongst themselves.

Mike, being Mike, struck up a conversation with said employees, who disclosed to him that security had, in fact, warned them about us. “They told us that there was a situation, and that’s why they’re stationed outside.”

I was watching from my bench. One of the two security guards left to pursue other stalking missions (children with candy, people with bright clothing, etc.), so I took this as my cue to enter the store. I strode confidently with my green Santa hat and mustachioed sunglasses, thinking that if I was going to go down, it was going to be in a blaze of f*cking glory.

I was ready to go, man. Ready. To. Go.

I turned to enter the golden gates of Hallmark, and the gargoyle of a mall cop sprang to life, rounding on me with hands on hips and muttering something menacingly into his walkie-talkie. I ran to Margaret and Mike, who were calmly paying for their purchases. We walked out together, deviants united. Mike spoke loudly about his clever greeting card, and I chanced a look over my shoulder.

Well, lookie here, folks. We got ourselves a mall cop stalker.

I whispered urgently to my comrades that we were being followed. In unison we looked back just in time to see the “cop” craftily cut behind a kiosk about twenty feet back. Smooth. Margaret said, “Let’s just get this to the car.”

“Oh, no. We’re gonna have some fun now. If he wants to follow us, let’s give him a trail to sniff,” I said.

Mike added, “You know what? I feel like trying on heels at Macy’s.”

Macy’s is at the other end of the mall. Challenge accepted.

We passed several other security guards, all of whom gave us The Eye. We slipped into Macy’s, took a little-known exit, and walked, laughing, to my car. We put my camera in its bag and went back into the line of fire. The first security guard showed up randomly in a lot of the places we were, and the final time we encountered him, he made a show of checking his watch as we passed him.

…can I just be like him? He’s the coolest.

As we got pretzels on our way out, we saw four men in suits and a legitimate police officer enter the mall. “Guys. Some suits and a legit officer came in. We screwed up. We gotta go,” I said with urgency.

And on that note, we walked to the parking lot, watched the car next to me get towed, and sauntered past two police cruisers. Bazinga.

Some of images they wanted, here for your viewing pleasure:

I'm your biggest fan, I'll follow you until you love me.

Celebrity Diego pictured with his new flame. This is hittin' the tabloids tomorrow, baby.

Irony: they're walking toward Mall Management AND Mall Security.

What scandalous item was Diego buying? Turn to page 17 to get the dish!

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