-Graphics Editor/Amanda Palma

I don’t usually go to the mall on Saturday nights – correction, I don’t go to the mall on Saturday nights ever. I love the mall, don’t get me wrong, I mean shopping is the best; however, I don’t like crowds. I had to make an emergency stop at the mall this past Saturday night and there were rowdy teenagers (the little kids in the mall were better behaved), outrageously long lines in the food court (I had to get my strawberry milkshake, don’t judge me) and a team of first responders and police because someone nearly collapsed (there was barely room to walk). It wasn’t a good experience, and that’s why I stay home on the weekends. Maybe I’m a recluse because I embody that writer stereotype, but I experience real pain and suffering when I’m among the crowds and I know exactly why.

I diagnosed myself with something called People Anxiety. My symptoms include groaning, rapid heartbeat, the insane desire to run for my life and the mantra “This place is packed! I gotta get out of here!” If you are walking with me in the mall and you see my eyelashes touch my eyebrows, this is your cue to grab my hand and get me out.

It’s not just malls though – amusement parks are the worst. I went to Great Adventure with my family last year and the crowds…the crowds. Long lines for the entrance, rides, restrooms and food. I mean, okay, you’re probably saying that I should expect this situation at an amusement park, h-o-w-e-v-e-r, there’s a difference between crowds and hordes of people swallowing you whole into a deep abyss of intergalactic warfare with the sole purpose of causing you anxiety beyond life, which triggers immediate death!

Phew.

Sorry.

Excuse me.

It’s the People Anxiety.

The ultimate question is this: how do I cure my ailment?

The ultimate answer is simple: I can’t. I can thrust myself into the sea of people, try to get over the fact that I won’t be able to choose the direction I walk (because it’s the sea, ya know?), and tell myself, I can do this!

But I can’t.

You might say, “No, it’s not that you can’t, it’s that you don’t want to.”

Seriously though, why would I put myself through that? I’d rather get to the mall the moment it opens and get my shopping done before the lunch time rush. It’s so much nicer at that time. I’ve been known to wait in front of stores while the worker is unlocking the doors – I’m that customer. I often get that look – the one that says, “Really? We just got here, come on.” But if the store says it opens at 9:30 a.m., I’m going to be there at 9:30 a.m.!

Getting my weekend shopping done first thing in the morning gives me the rest of the day to do whatever else I need without dealing with the vortex of doom. Now, having money for shopping is a column for another day.


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