Wandering The 2020 Christmas Shopping Wastelands

Mall Walking.

Deck the malls with melancholy, fa la la la la, la la la…la?

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: it’s a very special pandemic Christmas! Wait, no, not “special”. I meant “panic-stricken”.

This year I was determined to do as much of my Christmas shopping in person as possible, which worked well for me last year. Comparing 2019 to 2020 is like comparing apples and cyanide pills, but here I am anyway, trying to buck the American trend of relying on Amazon for any and every human acquisition need like a newborn infant relies on its parents for basic feeding and sanitation. So far in 2020 I’ve ordered from Amazon four times, my lowest total since 2008. The fact that Amazon keeps that information on file so I could actually fact-check myself is kind of creepy and further justifies my decision to pursue other shopping venues regardless of the added cost.

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2014 Road Trip Photos #9: Another Hick in the Mall, Part 2

Nickelodeon Universe!

Welcome to Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America! Also, there are stores.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Each year from 2003 to 2013 my wife, my son, and your humble writer headed out on a long road trip to anywhere but here. Our 2014 road trip represented a milestone of sorts: our first vacation in over a decade without my son tagging along for the ride. At my wife’s prodding, I examined our vacation options and decided we ought to make this year a milestone in another way — our first sequel vacation. This year’s objective, then: a return to Wisconsin and Minnesota. In my mind, our 2006 road trip was a good start, but in some ways a surface-skimming of what each state has to offer. I wanted a do-over.

Readers who followed along last summer with the remastered edition of our 2006 travelog may have been disappointed at the dearth of photos in the Mall of America chapter. The great and powerful Mall is an enormous structure with hundreds of places to visit and acquire stuff, but last time we just didn’t think to use our cameras much because shopping and photo ops are two activities that tend to be mutually exclusive activities in our minds.

Right this way for more mall pics than last time!

Our 2006 Road Trip, Part 16: Another Hick in the Mall

[The very special miniseries continues! See Part One for the official intro and context…]

Day 6: Thursday, July 27th

By the third day of our stay at the same Bloomington hotel, we were finding it difficult to make the same breakfast buffet seem novel and appetizing. We ate much less than usual, contenting ourselves with watching in amusement as a whole new line of hotel guests each found their own way to screw up the waffle-making process. The instructions were right there on the wall, but we were amazed at the damage to be done by forgetting to use cooking spray, by pouring in the wrong amounts of batter, by pouring the batter unevenly on one side, by neglecting to turn the waffle-maker to the ON position and thereby negating the timer, and so on. As former longtime restaurant employees, Anne and I are elitist like that.

Our objective was the one and only Mall of America. Our family and friends back home were more excited about this stop than we were. When Anne and I first traveled together in 1999, one of the first and unhappiest lessons we learned was that chain retail stores, with extremely few exceptions, carry the exact same merchandise from state to state. Walmarts in Kentucky have the same Star Wars figures as those in Indiana. Toys-R-Us-es in Missouri line their shelves with the same clearance worst-sellers as those back home. By logical extension, we assumed even the Mall of America would be subject to this guideline. We figured we had to try it anyway, on behalf of our friends and family demanding their vicarious thrills after the fact. Besides, when in Rome, and all that.

Mall of America!

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