Sunday, January 6, 2013

"I Don't See What Difference Half an Hour Will Make"

For reasons too complicated to explain, I dropped my eyeglasses on a tile floor last night. As I picked them up, I noticed a missing lens. My glasses are of the sort that have half frames across the top and sides of the lenses. Something I did not realize but there is also a piece of thin, clear plastic that holds the lens across the bottom. Unlike as with ordinary frames, I could not put the lens back myself by loosening the screw at the earpiece and tightening it back up again.

I also discovered in the course of my manipulations that both lenses had fallen out. Fortunately, I didn’t step on the other one in trying to find it.

All this happened around 5:30 PM on Saturday, and a call to Lenscrafters at the mall revealed they were open until 9PM. John asked if I would mind waiting until the news was over to go there. I had an old pair of glasses to wear as a spare but I wanted him to drive, anyway.

“That’s fine,” I said. “I don’t see what difference half an hour will make.”

It’s a shame that real life doesn’t come with a sound track that foreshadows a Significant Statement.

When we got to the mall we were amazed at how crowded it was. Sirens wailed in the distance. Even stranger was that a lot of cars were leaving, and we found a parking spot right by the Sear’s entrance (in the center of the mall and opposite the food court, so a good spot to enter if you aren’t sure you remember just where you are going.) As we got out of the car, we found out why.

“Ma’am. Sir,” two people hailed us. “The mall is closing.” (Yes, people talk like this down here.)

One of them went on to say that there had been a big fight in the food court, police were called in, and they closed the mall as a result. “I work at the Bath and Body Shop,” she said. “We heard there may have been gunshots.”

I thanked her for the information and headed back to the car. My husband, meanwhile, noticed that there was a crowd milling around another exit. “Do you want to go over there and check and make sure the mall isn’t really still open?” he asked.

“No. Even if it is still open, why would you even want to go someplace where gunshots have been fired?”

“She only said they thought there were gunshots.”

“So, do you want to find out the hard way there is someone inside with a gun? Because I don’t.”

I should explain about my husband. John doesn’t really have a death wish, and he isn’t lacking in intelligence. He just is very singleminded once he has a plan. Whereas I get bored easily and wander off, leaving tasks unfinished, my husband sees them through, no matter how boring. When circumstances disrupt his plan, it takes him a while to realize he needs a Plan B. On the other hand, switching from Plan A to Plan B, or C, or W, is what I love best. So while I am content to let him take charge when we are doing something tedious but necessary, like painting the house or packing for a move, I have found that it’s best for me to take over when circumstances force a change of plans but hubby is still stuck. Like, when, say, the mall we needed to go to to get my glasses fixed is the scene of a big fight and possible shooting.

So we got in the car and thanks to some good navigating by my husband, on the road. At this point, I remembered that there is also a Lenscrafters in the other mall.

Chris Rock used to have a comedy routine about malls. “Every town has the same two malls: the one white people go to and the one white people used to go to.” I know exactly what he is talking about. When Cortana Mall was built, it was “the mall white people go to”. It was well laid out, with four anchor stores and even a small movie theater. D.H. Holmes, one of the anchor stores, had a cafe on the second floor that overlooked the mall, and Dillard’s had its furniture department.

Over the years, DH Holmes and Maison Blanche went out of business, the movie theater was replaced with another store, and other businesses came and went, but the mall became the only mall in town, once Bon Marche (“the mall white people used to go to”) went out of business. In the meantime, though, plans were being made to build a new mall in the swamps off of Bluebonnet. (I’m not kidding about the swamp. There is a BREC Park called Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center down the street from the area. Egrets nest along the road leading to the back parking lot of the mall.) After several years,  a permit was obtained, and the Mall of Louisiana was built. At first both malls co-existed, but now the anchor stores at Cortana serve as outlets for last season's merchandise and Dillard's second floor is closed. That’s why we went to the Mall of Louisiana when I first got my glasses, and went back to get them repaired.

In fifteen minutes, we were at Cortana. Lenscrafters was open, and there weren’t any other customers, so in five minutes a nice man named Patrick had my glasses put back together. He knew about the problem at the other mall, having received a phone call from the staff there. “We never have anything like that here,” he says, as if fights at Mall of Louisiana are a weekly occurrence. Maybe they are.

Later, after a dinner out, we get home and check the news on a local TV station website. As it turns out, no shots were fired, but yes, it was closed when we got there. As best anyone can tell, an Instagram invitation for young people to meet at the mall and hang out led to a larger than usual crowd, and then fights broke out, although that doesn’t seem to have been the intent.

What if we hadn’t waited for the news, I wonder? Would I have had my glasses fixed and been on my way, or would we still be waiting for service when the fight and ensuing confusion occurred? I had said, “I don’t see what difference half an hour will make”, but it turns out I was wrong, and it was just as well.

ETA: Apparently this story made the national news.

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