A Trip to the Mall

We’re leaving on vacation this Sunday. While we’re gone, we’re having some painting and repair work done at our house. This necessitated going shopping for paint and stain. That wasn’t so bad. I rather enjoy hanging out at our local Home Hardware and the paint store. Ah, the paint store! So many pretty colours. Such limitless possibilities for creative endeavour.

Then I moved on to the Bulk Barn and Global Pet Foods, two of my favourite stores. Bill and I are regulars in both places. The staff have gotten to know us so well that it almost feels like we’re dropping in on friends.

Finally, like it or not, I had to go to the mall. The mall is perhaps my least favourite place on the planet. To put this in perspective, I would far rather go to the landfill site with a truckload of compost, re-cyclables, and garbage than spend a couple of hours traipsing around on concrete floors breathing stale air and listening to insipid music.

Despite my aversion to the trendy clothing shops with identical, mass-produced merchandise, I got sucked in by bright colours on a display rack and a big yellow sign that read, “Buy 1, get the 2nd at half-price.”

I went in and browsed for a few minutes. A twenty-something salesperson approached me and in a high-pitched, eager little-girlish voice said, “Is there anything I can help you find?”

“No thanks,” I said with a polite smile. “I’m just looking around for now.”

“Oh, go right ahead?” she chirped, moving on.

A couple of minutes later, I heard the same sales clerk in conversation with another customer. Again, she spoke in that high-pitched, breathy voice with a question mark at the end of every sentence.

The other customer, a woman I judged to be in her late fifties, had just emerged from the changing room. The sales clerk was quite animated in her appraisal of the clothing item the customer modelled. I was taken aback when the older woman responded in exactly the same child-like tone of voice, with the identical upward-inflection punctuating her sentences.

I wanted to march over to them wagging my finger in their faces and shout,

Both of you are adult women. Why can’t you speak like adult women?
Why do you insist on sounding like three-year-olds who’ve inhaled helium?

I’m a speech pathologist. I can treat that, you know. Here’s my card.

It was time for me to leave.