Originally Published October 27, 2010. If you decide to go shopping this weekend, may the odds be ever in your favor.
The mall is a glorious place for Moms of young children. Akin to an indoor playground for both Mother AND Child, it is full of glee-filled places such as Toy Stores, hot dog trucks, carousels, and, of course, shopping.
But it doesn’t come without it’s risks – without the dangers of attack.
The Kiosk Predators.
I often wonder if they hate their job as much as I hate their job.
Although some kiosks sell desirable things, the ones with the predators are the ones that sell things that no one wants for more money than anyone would ever pay, and their only hope is to convince you to let them try their undesirable product on you which will STILL not make you want it, all of which creates an attitude of desperation, which, if handled wrong, can turn into hostility and even, legend has it, violence.
So, you can either spend your mall visits having the following continuous dialogue… “No, I would not like my hair straightened. No I would not like a freaky hairpiece. No, my three year old doesn’t need a hairpiece either. No, I would not like a 15 minute massage while my kid runs amuck throughout the mall. No, I don’t smoke, nor do I know anyone who needs your electric cigarettes. And, by the way, you look really cheesy smoking them.”
Or, you can implement a few simple strategies to help you avoid, overcome, and come out victorious against the Great Kiosk Predators.
And, since everyone may not spend as much time at the mall as I do, I decided to write a guide to help you survive any holiday mall trips you may find yourself embarking upon.
1. You must know your enemies and their strategies.
a. The Eastern European guy at The Nutty Bavarian booth will try to draw you in with his dark, mysterious, sultry Mediterranean eyes. Do not make eye contact lest you become unable to refuse his nuts.
b. The Barbie-esque hair straightener girls are vicious. Don’t turn your back on them lest you find yourself jabbed in the back with a 200 degree hair straightener. Also, if not told no firmly enough (all while not turning your back on them), they will try a second attempt of wanting to straighten your child’s hair. Apparently, they lack the common sense that 200 degrees + 3 year olds does not end in a happy equation.
c. The balding guy at the sea salt lotion booth will implore you with a look of desperation, as if he is kept in a cage underneath the kiosk at night. He will also not give up. You must be firm and walk fast. Very fast. Oh – and the Israeli trinkets he sells at Christmastime? Check the little gold sticker. They’re usually made in Lebanon, for what it’s worth.
d. The Hairpiece Lady may try to throw a hairpiece into your head before you even see her. This may feel like you just got attacked by a small, furry woodland creature. Don’t panic – she’ll use your moment of confusion against you.
2. Be aware of High Risk Days. Similar to the smog alert that comes on the news each morning, prepare yourself accordingly.
- If it is a less crowded day at the mall, the risk of attack is higher because the prey is less available.
- If it is holiday season, the number of Kiosk Predators may be higher, raising the risk of attack.
- If you are alone, your risk is MUCH greater. Travel in packs to help ensure safety, and to help you escape (without buying a small woodland creature for your hair) if you get ensnared.
3. Know the Kiosk Danger Zones and plan your route accordingly. For instance, I have made the following sample diagram and legend of my mall, the Riverchase Galleria, to aid in the planning process:
As you can see, most areas of certain attack can be avoided by strategically planning your route between the two floors. But, of course, you may NEED to go through the high risk areas of the mall, so when you enter a yellow zone, you need to go ahead and start planning your Strategy of Avoidance…
4. Strategies of Avoidance:
- Hang back away from the red zone until you see someone of a similar attackable demographic walking by. Then run past as quickly as you can while they are devoured by the flesh-eating-Kioskers.
- Walk as closely to the “real” stores as possible, looking intently in each and every window. This is a weak strategy, however, because Kiosk Predators are not afraid to reach out and grab you. Also, you may walk into someone else due to your intent focus on the stores.
- Pinch your child to make them scream right as you’re walking into a red zone. They should decide that you’re not worth the kill, but even if they don’t, you can pretend you can’t hear them over the wails of distress.
- Have a failproof excuse for each booth. To the Nutty Bavarian, say as you walk by quickly, “I’m allergic to nuts.” To the hair straightener girls, “I prefer the frizzy look.” To the hairpiece lady, “I’m already wearing a hairpiece. Can’t you tell this isn’t real??”
The bottom line is that preparation is key. And it may be the only way that you don’t find yourself wondering how and when you bought a hairpiece for your infant.