Tuesday, August 08, 2017

The Rim Walkers

It's 7:58 a.m., on the last day of goalie camp.

We stay in a hotel attached to a mall, which is the most convenient thing on Earth when you don't get back until 7 p.m. each day. Just walk to dinner, then walk back to the room.

This is the fourth year we've stayed at the mall, plus we stayed there for two weeks during tryouts last year, so everyone at the hotel knows us, and we even have a friend in the mall.

This is why, at 7:58 a.m. on a Friday morning, we were standing outside the mall, waiting to go see our friend before we left.

The mall doors were still closed, and about ten mall walkers were milling around. All of them were in their seventies, at least, and they were impatient.

"Joe used to open the doors right on time," said one of them.

"This new guy has a lot to learn," another one said.

At exactly 8 a.m., when the doors still weren't open, they began moving toward the glass doors, peering inside.

By 8:05 a.m., it was nearly a riot. A sedate riot.

Finally, the security guard opened the doors.

"I thought you'd forgotten about us!" said the first walker to pass him. He sighed.

We took deep breaths and entered the mall walker vortex.

Entering a mall during walking time is like accidentally driving onto a NASCAR track after you take a wrong turn coming home from the grocery store. There are specific rules, and if you don't follow them, you'll get run over.

Rule #1: Stay to the outside.
Everyone hugs the very outside, as close to the stores as possible. "Rim walkers," Eli 16.0 said, and it fits.

Rule #2: Walk in a counter-clockwise direction.
We were walking toward the store our friend runs, just sort of walking in the middle, and The Guy Who Has To Be In Charge walked past us. "Walking against the current, guys," he said.

"We're salmon," I said under my breath, and Eli laughed.

The tone of this post makes it sound like the old people weren't nice, and that's not true at all. Most of them were extremely nice, and even better, they were happy to be at the mall, walking. They waved at their friends as they passed by, and they all had at least one other person to walk with.

There were two women walking together, and they were both using walkers, both with big smiles on their faces, talking up a storm as they slowly moved along.

That was very, very nice.

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