Saturday, August 15, 2015


I completed my first-ever circumnavigation of the Mall of America yesterday. I've walked around the inside of the Mall many times, but never before had I walked around the outside. It was an interesting journey, if only because the exterior is so barren and bereft of people compared to the interior. Macy's has two identical, impressive entrances around the corner from each other. L.L. Bean also has a nice, imposing portal with a Paul Bunyan-sized boot. (The irony is I didn't even know L.L. Bean had a store in the Mall.)

For half of my journey I was at the bottom of canyons formed by the blank, 5-story wall of the Mall and the just-as-tall-and-reserved parking ramps on the east and west sides. It was a very warm, sunny day, and only about half of my path led through the shade. There were 2 young, pale women sitting in the sun speaking a language I would cautiously call "European." Their fair complexions were in danger of turning a ruddy hue if they stayed in that spot much longer.

I had to flout the traffic laws to complete my quest. The traffic signal on the north side explicitly forbids pedestrians crossing in any direction. I avoided eye contact with the drivers as I walked by their cars. Perhaps it was my status as a scofflaw that made me sheepish, although I've noticed that, as a pedestrian, I often feel inferior to car drivers and passengers. They have a right to stare at me, but I must avert my gaze lest I invade the privacy of their horse-less carriages.

My illicit detour was caused by the construction of the newest, yet-to-be-finished addition to the Mall, a flying buttress of gleaming, jet-setting sophistication branching out from the original square. Even though I'm sure I'll eventually be disgusted by the opportunities for conspicuous consumption therein, for now it looks downright perty.

Once inside, I was surprised by the abundance of shoppers (and browsers). A Friday afternoon in August wouldn't seem to be a big shopping day, yet there were plenty of people milling about and plenty of families in the Nickelodeon-themed theme park. Of course, the Mall is more of a tourist destination than a mall, even for us Minnesotans.

The rest of my day was less leisurely. I played phone tag with a temp agency, but that frustration actually bore fruit. The lady said there was a 6-month data entry gig. To apply for it, she just needed me to email her an updated resume, and then she'd send me an Excel test to show I had at least a basic understanding of the program.

"Great!" I thought. Now all I needed to find was a functioning WiFi network, but this task proved to be shockingly difficult. I scoured the Mall and came up empty. (I should point out that I had no patience to wait in line at the various Starbucks and Caribou Coffee's. I didn't have much faith in the speed of their service or their WiFi.) I drove to Eagan and found another Caribou, but my browser kept crashing, so I hit the road again.

After squandering the entire afternoon in search of internet access, I finally headed back to the vicinity of Uptown and found an operational network at a coffee shop I've visited a few times before. The resume was sent off quickly, and the Excel test was pretty much aced, but by then it was 6 o'clock. The temp agency lady had asked me to finish it that day, so I'm not sure if she meant by the close of business.

Whatever. I was relieved just to have managed to get online and ace the Excel test without having a panic attack. We'll see how I handle a possible return to the corporate world. I suppose I can console myself with the thought that it's just to tide me over until I can finally fulfill my destiny as an organic farmer.

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