I have a confession to make: I’m James Hagan and I’m a mall-a-holic. This should be a shameful thing for any non-teen to make, but I can’t help it. There’s something about Cordova Mall during the Christmas season that just makes it irresistible to spend time in. I’m actually one of the lucky ones because not only do I have a chance to hang out in the mall, but I also get to work in a restaurant at Cordova Mall. Every day I get to encounter the smiling faces of the cheerful mall shoppers. I have certainly learned a lot.
From watching the news you might think that the economy is in terrible shape. The media tells us that Americans are angry and broke, and that people have taken to the streets to “occupy.” From my research at Cordova Mall, however, I think the economy is in great shape. Every day the place is packed with young women holding three or four bags of clothes from Wet Seal and Charlotte Russe happily chatting on their smart phones while pushing a baby-stroller. Men of all ages are lining up for hours to buy the new “Call of Duty” video game, while stylish couples stroll by hand-in-hand holding boxes of the finest footwear from Coach and sucking down $5 drinks from Starbucks. From the shopping habits of mall shoppers it seems like the Pensacola economy is at an all-time high. When January comes around I don’t want to hear from the media that people are having trouble paying their bills because Christmas shoppers have taught me otherwise. Actually, the only way Cordova Mall seems to resemble an Occupy rally is that there are a lot of younger people hanging out all day who don’t seem to have a job to go to.
The holidays do bring out the best in mall customers as well. When I’m ringing up a customer’s $20-something lunch, I never expect them to tip me. After all, with all the shopping they’ve done at the mall that day, I’m sure whatever money they have left is going to a charity for the homeless or some other worthy cause. I can also understand why people balk at paying $8 for a burrito, or a “sandwich” as some call it. People need that money to buy their daughter those “Twilight” t-shirts from Hot Topic. How else will she make friends in high school? Sure, sometimes people seem tired and can be rude, but I just know that they’re just disappointed because their five-year-old daughter really needed that sold-out Blu-Ray player from Best Buy. How else will Brittany Kaitlyn be able to watch her favorite cartoons on her new flat-screen TV?
People claim that we have all forgotten the true meaning of Christmas, that instead on focusing on our family or loved ones, and telling them how much they mean to us, or helping the less fortunate, we’re all concerned with getting the best deals and buying the coolest stuff. They say that instead of it being the happiest time of the year, it is instead the most stressful, causing people to take on second-jobs, max out their credit cards and go into debt while sinking into depression. I’m not sure though. What would make you happier? Standing in line Christmas Eve trying to get one last gift or being home drinking hot chocolate and watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas” with the one you love best? I know which one I prefer. Merry Christmas, ya’ll.
James Hagan is not a fan of the holidays and hates the song “Jingle Bell Rock.” His favorite Christmas memory was sitting alone and watching Akira Kurosawa’s three-hour adaptation of “The Idiot.” He’s getting a graduate degree in English Literature from the University of West Florida, and works as a Cordova Mall restaurant elf. He can be found most nights at a local downtown bar.