Thursday, May 2, 2019

Mauled at the mall

Michael - Thursday

There are people who like shopping—who really like it. I remember once sitting next to a young couple on a plane who had spent the day in Hong Kong shopping. They’d flown out from South Africa over the previous night, shopped until they dropped, then back into their cramped seats to fly home. That flight is twelve and a half hours each way. They regaled me with stories of the great bargains they’d found until I pretended to fall asleep. Admittedly, one of them worked for the airline so they could do this for essentially nothing. And did so quite often.

Having fun at the Mall of America
And in the days of North West Orient before it was consumed by Delta, the airline offered special packages from Japan to Minneapolis to shop at the Mall of America. It’s unlikely they were getting bargains. They just came for the shopping. On full flights.

However, shopping is not my favourite activity. Malls are not my favourite places. Being stuck at a crowded mall for most of the day is close to my idea of purgatory. As much as I’m enjoying living in Knysna, it’s a small place—too small to have a Subaru dealer to service my car. That requires an hour trip to the dealer in George. Once you leave your car there, they drop you at the Garden Route Mall. And there you stay until they collect you. Taxis are tricky and expensive. George doesn’t have Uber as yet. I think I’ll investigate the franchise just to avoid that mall.

Still, with a big trip to Botswana coming up, it was an opportunity to get all the items we needed. Such as foreign exchange, for example.

So I duly set out for the bank armed with my passport and assorted cards. Of course the bank is at the other end of the mall from where we’ve been dropped. So a long hike. Then a long line. Then:
“I’m afraid we only do foreign exchange at the head office branch.”
“And where is that?”
It’s miles away.
“Is there a forex agency of some sort at the mall?”
Sad shaking of the head.
A helpful cleaner mentions quietly to me that a competing bank does do foreign exchange at the mall. It’s at the other end, of course. I head off. Long line.
“Botswana pula? Are you going by car?”
This is a fair question. It’s about 1000 miles drive from here. Nevertheless, we are.
“Do you have your car registration papers?”
“My car registration papers???”
“Yes, we need them to issue forex.”
I’m totally confused. South Africa’s foreign exchange regulations require banks to stamp exchange in your passport. And they like to stamp your air ticket also. BUT an air ticket establishes that you are flying out of the country. Half of South Africa owns a car of some sort. Most of them aren’t going to Botswana.
“Can’t you just put a stamp in my passport?”
Sad shaking of the head.
We bought a few items we didn’t really need. There was confusion about where and when they picked us up again, necessitating another walk across the mall.
I still don’t have any Botswana pula. We leave tomorrow.
I hate malls.


Upcoming Events (None of these take place in malls!)

A lot of familiar names in the panels below. Very lekker!

Crimefest, Bristol, England

17:10 – 18:00
Sunshine Noir
* Paul Hardisty
* Barbara Nadel
* Jeffrey Siger
* Robert Wilson
Participating Moderator: Stan Trollip

11:20 – 12:10
10 Year Stretch: The CrimeFest Anthology
* Peter Guttridge
* Caro Ramsay
* Zoë Sharp
* Michael Stanley (aka Stanley Trollip)
Participating Moderator: Kate Ellis

Once Upon a Crime, Minneapolis

Launch of SHOOT THE BASTARDS (This is the US title for DEAD OF NIGHT)

18:30 - 22:00 
Stanley will be in conversation with Kent Krueger. 


  1. For people who don't know the Mall of America in one of my home towns, it attracts more visitors per year than Disneyland, Disneyworld and the Grand Canyon combined. Somewhere around 40 million visitors a year. On Black Friday it has sometimes had to close its door because there were too may people inside - exceeded its occupancy of about 250,000!

  2. I have an allergy to shopping. Except pen shops, esp fountain pen shops, and notebook shops. That sell post it notes. And pens. Did I mention pens?
    Went to an Ink Museum on Wednesday. Joy!

    1. I never knew that about you, Caro. We share another vice. I look for fountain pens everywhere. It's a passion. You must try the Fountain Pen Hospital in NYC the next time you're in town...though I suspect you already knew that. Now, back to the mall...

  3. This is why God invented catalogues, and online shopping.
    I think Hell probably looks a lot like a mall?
    Christine in Los Angeles

  4. Michael, I am lucky. I live in a place where I can shop without having to go to a mall. But I hate shopping. Period. Full stop. I even hate shopping on line. I would gladly pay someone to do all my shopping for me. If I were in your shoes, I would bring my laptop to the car dealership and happily sit in a corner and work until my car was ready. The mall is not my idea of purgatory. It is hell, but where everyone else is happy and I am suffering.