Before we blink an eye, the Christmas season is upon us… Again.
I myself am an avid lover of all things Christmas: the lights, the music, the food, and the merriment. I am not, however, as big a fan of Christmas shopping. The overall madness of the experience is just too much for me. Every year I concoct a plan to keep myself out of the stores — “I’ll shop online!” or “QVC!” or “I wonder if I can pay someone to do this for me?” — but I still end up scrambling around to department stores, trying to scrounge together the last few items on my gift list.
This year I found myself at the mall a few weeks early. I had to drive a couple of hours for a medical appointment only to find out I had arrived a couple of hours too early. Fortunately, there was a shopping mall directly across the street, so I decided to pass the time trying to knock out some Christmas shopping.
Inside the mall, I glanced at the directory for a few moments and discovered that most of the stores I needed to visit were upstairs. But I couldn’t find any stairs, only escalators. I walked further into the main corridor of stores and still didn’t spot any stairs. Where were the stairs?
The maintenance woman that was coming out of the mall bathrooms might know.
“Excuse me,” I asked. “Can you tell me where I can find a stairwell?”
“Right there.” She pointed to the escalators.
“No, that’s the escalator, does this mall not have any regular stairs?”
“Well, we remodeled a few months ago and the stairs are in Dillard’s, but I think that store is under construction.”
I recalled the front of the Dillard’s store being taped off when I first walked in.
“But,” she continued slowly, “there is an escalator right there…”
The woman must have thought I was crazy.
“OK, thank you.”
I walked slowly in the direction of the escalators. It had been years since I had been on one. No matter where I was, I would take the longest route to find a set of stairs, to avoid the electronic version.
I stopped directly in front of the moving stair case. The steps surged forward, collapsing at the top only to then cycle back through, surging from the floor again, and all to a steady, rhythmic hum. The memories came rushing back to my mind as I stood frozen in front of the escalator.
It was this same time of year, but I was a teenager, Christmas shopping with my mom. We were carrying several big bags each and only had a few more stores to visit before heading home. I had found the perfect gift for my sister but wanted to make sure I didn’t spot anything better in another store. Of course, I couldn’t found anything nearly as good, so I decided to go back to the store on the second level to pick up the bracelet I knew she would love.
I was wearing a brown pair of cargo pants that had a draw string on the ankle cuff. You remember the kind, you could cinch them up higher if you chose to wear them as capris pants, another ridiculous fashion blip from the 90s.
As I stepped onto the escalator, one of the draw strings from the bottom of my pants got hung in between two of the stairs!
I instantly panicked and tried to pull my pant string free, but to no avail!
“Mom!” I shouted.
She turned and looked at me, then down at my pants.
“Take them off!” She exclaimed.
“WHAT? Absolutely not!”
We both sat down our bags and pulled on my pants string, as the top of the escalator drew near. The bottom of my pants started to rip, and I thought we would be able to free my leg, when my mother realized there just wasn’t time.
“Take them off now!!” She bellowed. I could hear the panic creeping into her voice, which made me realize I should listen to her.
The top of the next floor was coming into full view as I unbuttoned the cargo pants and shimmied a leg out.
“Hurry!” My mom yelled, as she gathered all the parcels I had sat down. I got my second leg out just in time to see every last thread of my cargo pants be flattened and sucked into the revolving staircase.
We both stood still in disbelief, until I suddenly realized I was standing in the middle of an extremely crowded mall, right before Christmas, in my Spice Girls underwear.
“Mom! I have no pants on!” I hissed.
She wrapped her jacket around my waist and we scurried to the nearest store to buy another pair of pants.
“Ma’am?” ….. “MA’AM?”
I blinked a few times and returned to reality. I suddenly realized I had been standing in front of the escalator just staring at it like a crazy person.
I made eye contact with the elderly lady in front of me, looking at me cautiously.
“Are you OK?” She asked.
“Yes, just having to work up my nerve to get on this thing,” I answered.
I heard her mumble something with the words “crazy” and “drugs” before she stepped onto the first moving step. I just decided to let her think what she wanted because I was about to have a coming to Jesus meeting with an escalator.
I lifted my foot and stepped on. I gripped the rubber banister with white knuckles all the way to the top. I practically leaped off when I made it to the second floor, jumped with elation and let out a loud “WHOOP!” I grabbed the arm of the same elderly lady, and said “I got on an escalator! And no one saw my Spice Girls underwear this time!”
She pulled her arm free of my clutches and I heard her mumble something about “crazy” and “drugs” again before she walked away quickly.
I pulled my cell phone out of my purse and called my mom.
“Mom! I just got on an escalator!”