Shopping has never been my forte. Online shopping, my usual method, is repugnant enough, but the brick and mortar variety actually nauseates me after the first 15-20 minutes. Yet somehow I managed to give birth to a male shopper.
Every time I hear him croon, in his best sing-song," Oh, mama, I feel like doing something special with you today..." I know I'm in trouble. Big trouble. "Something special", to this alien of mine, means shopping.
He did inherit the stubbornness gene from me. We lock horns for a while, he pouts, he wins, we shop.
If you want to be a shopper, you pretty much have to follow the herd. We followed the herd to shoppers' paradise. We walked. He drooled at iPods and asked for Cinabonns. We walked. I watched.
The place was bustling with apparently happy, moneyed people who were out to improve their lives, or at least their possession tally, on this day. I was impressed that the traffic actually STOPPED at intersections to allow the many pedestrians to cross leisurely. It was highly unusual to see so many people out walking. So that's what sidewalks are for.....interesting.
What's wrong with this picture? Well, all of those PEDESTRIANS had driven vehicles, some of monstrous SUV proportions, to this shopping mecca. This thriving pedestrian "neighborhood" is devoid of housing. Not one living soul is able to walk to this desination. It exists in a suburb, far from downtown. This shopping center and one in another suburb have seemingly conspired to ruin this city's downtown, which until recently was itself a shopping destination.
I must have been a city planner in a past life. I am inordinately troubled by this phenomenon. I know there's a better way. My Serbian friend tells me his family led a very happy, car-free life. Carefree and car-free. Vehicles pollute, vehicles kill, vehicles maim, vehicles reduce our level of fitness, and vehicles have caused the elimination of those glorious streetcar systems which graced our cities many years ago.
We drove away from today's shopping experience along with hundreds of other vehicles. Why did we all seem to be leaving at the same time? The number of cars was staggering. I shuddered as I realized the odds of at least one of these many drivers making a mistake, especially as our world goes more and more high tech. The driver next to me could have been watching one of those video iPods my child had been drooling over. My tiny subcompact didn't stand a chance against one of those looming, imposing behemouths.
I panicked, gripped the steering wheel for dear life, and pressed the gas pedal, dispersing my exhaust into our precious air. It just seems so wrong.