E: These were Kiosks that I was setting up. A pyramid of gold bars, cheap/fake jewelry on felt displays and a laptop with a jewelry scale
R: It was like an old beach house..I worked in the stock room which was really bright with floor to ceiling rolling shelves
E: The buildings are cavernous and unfurnished, save for the 20ft tall wire racks that define the aisles, full of back stock.
R: I had to be there at midnight and was there til noon sorting through a jungle of shoes.
I'm waiting by the phone for the mall to call. If i don't get the job I'll be shattered. I don't even want it, i need it, it's almost beneath me. But I imagine the discounts on face balms, the cucumber mask from the artsy apothecary I could try getting into. I imagine a ritual i will invent- Enzo pizza and a seltzer with lemon, beer somewhere bourgie after work on Wednesdays, my new life as a shadow Gap girl armed with a folding board, a cashmere with a cowl neck sliding soundlessly down. Last minute madness on Xmas eve. I'm not religious so it will be refreshing to spend the day in the service of something bigger than myself, my emerging relationship with the girl at the food court who gives smoothie samples, her neat white smile for me. Bland house music on Pandora, twisting in a three way mirror.
E: I remember the way it smelled in there- like warm plastic and cheap incense- and the feeling of having a job and tasks that i knew I could perform well. It's where I learned that I was excellent at customer service.
R: This 4 year old girl saw me fixing a mannequin and started pointing to me and trying to get her mothers attention. She was yelling, "Mom there's a real person in there!" Her mother said,"No those are just mannequins!" For some reason, I decided to say to the girl, "She's right I'm not real. "
Maybe my mom will respect me, grotesquely overqualified, maybe I'll thwart a terrorist attack- a bomb in an H&M bag. Maybe I'll trip a Colts fan, misanthropy winning my body back, babies drooling in their strollers, men peddling hair extensions in unbranded kiosks.
What's the weirdest store? Flag World? I remember being a teen, marching around, flapping the tiny flags. There's nothing you can do in a mall to truly feel rebellious. I find this vaguely comforting, a hug from my homeland. I practically grew up in traffic around a Galyan's, my mom and I wobbling in our winter coats out of the car across the ice to stroll through Sears, power walk by Pass Pets, the smell of a shar pei's cage- piss on newspaper wafting into Kaybee Toys. In B Dalton sitting with the Spin Guide to Alternative Rock across my lap, taking notes: Hole, Bratmobile, B-52s. I fell immediately in love with a boy at Sam Goody admiring the same Smashing Pumpkins poster as me, but I'll never see him again. Now I'm 31.
R: One of my co-workers was this older woman who seemed like Mother Time to me then but she was probably only 34 but had been smoking every day of her life.
E: I started to notice random men of different ages starting to congregate around that bench. They would all just watch me dress and undress the mannequins and it was really uncomfortable. Every time I would change that window it would happen. Complete strangers sitting on a bench together watching me.
One time Vanessa and I went to Castleton with a carton of raw eggs, left them nestled in Macy's miniature Christmas trees, on the stools at the piercing pagoda, in the pockets of dangling minks. We dubbed our game "You're the Rotten Egg," evading mall security, pre-Segway era; shoot the mall cop in your head.
Editor's note: the phone never rang.