A fun part of marriage is the occasionally odd disconnect that makes life interesting or, should we say, challenging. Years ago, for instance, my wife and I were shopping at Troy’s Somerset Mall, a major high-end suburban outlet, and I noticed there were fewer customers in the primary store, Lord and Taylor. Glancing at my watch, I saw it was nearing the 8:00 pm closing time. Just then, an announcement came over the store’s sound system confirming the end of the day closing and that everyone should leave.
I’d never been in a department store this late, but I mentioned to my wife that we’d better get moving. She said she’d only be a minute, so I ambled out to the entrance to wait inside the mall. As expected, within minutes, store lights began winking out with no Joan in sight. Then, to my great concern, a twenty-foot-high metal security gate began descending from the ceiling, but still no Joan. With many other mall stores also closing and almost nobody in sight, there was an eerie sense of abandonment. Almost like the beginning of a Zombie town horror movie.
Now my wife always made sure I wasn’t to worry in case she didn’t arrive exactly on time; that she’d be alright. But this fortress-like metal gate still clanking its way half-way down was understandably un-nerving. It was now so dark inside Lord and Taylor, I couldn’t see her in last mad scramble to get out. With my worry and blood pressure skyrocketing, the castle-like gate thudded into position.
Within seconds, she rounded a corner and stood there, helpless. We were well and truly separated, with not the slightest clue what to do to extricate her. Not only that, this happened before cell phones existed, and I’d never seen a mall phone booth while wandering around. Even if I could find a phone, I had no idea how to contact Lord and Taylor Security, much less the store’s main offices. Was there anyone in the mall that could help make a call to Lord and Taylor’s 5th Avenue New York City corporate headquarters?
This couldn’t be the only occasion when a customer was trapped inside, but was my wife forced to stay inside all night? The drinking fountains probably worked, but did they lock the restrooms? Somehow, I didn’t think Lord and Taylor offered sleeping bags and emergency rations in cases like this. I couldn’t even remember seeing a candy bar machine, and Joan becomes more than surly when she’s denied a meal. I’d never inspected Lord and Taylor’s bulletin boards, but there was little chance they offered all-night champagne and hor d’oeuvres parties that no one knew about. When would a store security person wander through, or did they even bother? The castle-like entrance gate certainly looked stout enough to keep the Mongol hordes out.
But how could wives who love to shop actually purchase anything when it’s too dark to see and no sales people to sell them anything? For the matter of that, how had we missed all the sales personnel disappearing at the end of day? Worse, perhaps there was a way my wife could conduct more transactions all night. A sudden thought struck me; would shoppers being locked inside drive a new age of internet shopping when simply viewing a computer screen and ordering on-line became a necessity?
We stood there, staring at each other, completely flummoxed, unable to accuse each other of creating this mess. Who knew Lord and Taylor had such iron-clad closing rules, much less castle-like iron gates. Both of us began rattling the security gate for what seemed like a very long time, trying to figure out how to either open it or find a button to push. Did the store even have a security guard? Or would the Troy police soon arrive, sirens blaring, lights flashing, and guns drawn with itchy fingers wrapped around them?
To our huge relief, a lone guard finally heard the noise and came over, using some sort of unlocking device, to let my wide-eyed wife escape. After seeing her tiny fists clinging in desperation to the wrong side of the bars, it was like watching a cuddly little koala bear coaxed from a zoo cage enclosure. Overjoyed at reconnecting at Lord and Taylor, we decided it would be better to reconnect at home.