SUNDAY MORNING 9AM-December 30, 2012
Dedicated to Miriam E. and Robert A. Dorn
As I had to reluctantly make a few stops in our busy shopping district the day after Christmas, passing the crowded parking lots and lines of shoppers literally stretching out of the store entrances, I couldn’t help but recall an experience I had as a teenage department store stock worker. I know that Christmas was only five days ago, but I must tell this Easter Weekend story.
It was Easter Saturday 1968 and I was working at Abraham and Straus at the Walt Whitman Mall, in Huntington, Long Island. I was stocking the shelves with some last minute sale items and it was 8:59 AM. Ok, so you might be asking yourself, “How could I possibly remember an exact time that morning 44 years ago?” Well, the store always opened precisely at 9:00 AM (not 8:59 or 9:01, but exactly at 9:00 AM. Only this time, there was a long line of people, mostly women, standing in front of the stores many glass doors. There were store clerks there with their keys ready waiting for the clock to strike 9:00.
I was walking across some isles and had a large stack of sale candy, which had just been marked down to almost nothing. I thought to myself, what an orderly crowd, I was so glad that crowd was not made up of kids because they wouldn’t have been so polite and mature. I could see my boss, who was across the floor in the back, working on a display rack and waving to me.
Just as the doors were unlocked, everything changed. Those orderly, mature, seemingly calm and adult-like people, instantly became a stampede, an out-of-control mob, a figurative tidal wave of pocket books, scarves (women often wore scarves on their heads back then), eye glasses, cigarettes, determined faces—-it was all a blur, really.
Within what seemed like seconds, I was spun around, like the cartoon image of Road Runner passing Wiley Coyote at warp speed in the dessert, spinning him around. The only sound I remember was one woman screaming, “Here they are” (the sale candy) as she ran towards me. The only sensation I remember was pocket books and finger nails hitting me as women reached up and grabbed one, two or three boxes each.
The next thing I knew, I was tucking my shirt back in, recomposing myself, combing my hair, asking myself, “Did those women really take every single one of those 48 boxes of candy from the carton in my arms in seconds?” As I approached the display rack where my boss was putting the finishing touches on the attractive candy display, she asked “Bob, where’s the candy, we need to get this finished?” Honestly, I would have given anything to see the expression on my face. Clearly, I was bewildered and dazed. I believe I had just been molested by a crowd of sale-seeking women on a mission.
Actually, I take it back; I think a group of children would have been better behaved.
Have a great week and HAPPY NEW YEAR!