What is this place? I see reflections everywhere. They seem familiar yet alien at the same time. I know I’ve been here before I just can’t remember when. I grasp for air. I feel disoriented. How did I get here? What sort of bad decisions were made to make this happen and why? I should have known better.Next to me I smell a combination of Chapstick, gum and perfume of some kind and I turn to my right and catch a glimpse of a tilted head and eyes being rolled back.
“ Come on let’s go.”
“ I can’t.”
“ Come on let’s go. It won’t take long. We will be in and out in a few minutes.”
“ Really, a few minutes. You and I both know that’s not even possible.”
“ Seriously, who is the adult here?”
“ I am the adult here and the attitude I don’t need.”
“ Attitude. You won’t even open the door.”
“ Look where we are.”
“ Yeah, so come on let’s go.”
I reach for the handle and pull. I step out and the wind hits me hard. I glance down and away from the light that reflects off the car windshields. The door shuts and I make my way through the parking lot and look up. There it is all lit up in a fine bright teal green “East Entrance” and the reality finally dawns on me. I am at the mall.
For a man of my age this is a failure on a scale unimaginable. No man, no real man goes to the mall for any reason ever. Oh sure you may laugh and say to yourself that it cannot be true. Oh let me assure you not only is it true it’s a badge of honor for most men. Wait, not most men, all men. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that I could conceivably imagine needing to buy to sustain my life in continuum and beyond at the mall. Nothing. Ever.
But yet here I am stumbling towards the double doors being led as if by a force. Oh yes it is a force. A seventeen year old force on a mission. A mission to purchase. A mission to move the scales of the world economy forward. A mission to personally tick the National GDP to an upward trend.
She wears jeans that are too tight knee high leather boots a scarf, some kind of sweater that’s made of something that will save the earth from certain extinction and carries a phone that I have never seen detached from her hand after the age of twelve. She turns her head back to see if I am keeping up and I am barely. I scan the hallways for video games and a popcorn machine but see nothing. They were there the last time I was here I am sure of it. She turns her head again and banks to the right like a formula 1 car picking up speed and accelerating out of the corner. I glance to the left and see four reclining chairs with two gray haired people in them. They look like they are either dead or asleep. I slow down and notice an open space next to
the lady in the white sweater snoring. I feel the eyes. The head tilted down and the stare with the eyes open in disbelief. She turns and hits fifth gear head tilted towards her phone. I follow twenty feet behind. She slowly looks up and enters a store with bright lights and pumping music. I stop and try to focus my eyes. Scanning the store I see the top of her head and work my way through the endless rows of jeans and then some jeans and some more jeans with holes in them. I stop next to her; she has her eyes focused on her phone. I look at the rack in front of her.” I
think they’re supposed to be skirts. If they are, they are skirts designed for small little tiny people with no legs.”
“What do these things cover?” She looks up at me and just stares. “How much do these things cost?”
“They are on sale.”
“ I don’t see any tag. How do you know?”
“ It shows me on the app.”
“ Is that from the store?”
“ Yes, Amanda and I were talking at school and she mentioned that she was here the other day and received a sale message on two different skirts.”
“ The store knows which ones she was looking at.”
“ I don’t know. I guess so.”
“ How does it know you are here?”
“ I signed up for the app and Amanda shared the sale with me so it knows I may want to look at a similar item.”
“ It knows when you are in the store?”
“ It’s the Beacon thing you told me about remember?”
“ Oh, the iBeacon. You have your Bluetooth turned on?”
“ That’s how it works. The mall has some kind of system too. It tells me about different store sales in the mall.”
“ Are you signed up for all of them?”
“ No, just the ones I want. I can turn it off too. If I want a discount or deals it gives them to me right on my phone when I’m here. It also alerts me when they have special sales. If there is an item for a store in the mall I want I can purchase it right from my phone. They will even ship it to our house if I don’t want to shop.”
“ Really, you don’t even have to leave the house. Oh and you are not buying that skirt.” “ What, why did I bring you again?”
“ Not buying the skirt or whatever you want to call that piece of cloth. Not while I’m alive.”
She turns rapidly taps the phone several times. Why do I think she just figured out a way to buy that skirt without me knowing anyway? We head out of the store and I glance back at the sign and catch a glimpse of the number 21. I have no idea what the means. She accelerates into fifth gear again turning left this time as she glides through the wide open door with the big swoosh overhead. “Maybe dad will find something he could use in this store.” I find her sliding hangers of tops and pants in various colors of must-have workout clothes. She glances my way with four items in her hands and heads toward the dressing room. I swing over to the running shoe section to have a look. Ah a bench and finally some rest. A nice professional young lady approaches and asks if I need assistance. I tell her that I am just waiting for my daughter. She nods and turns to help another potential customer. A minute later my daughter arrives with bag in hand.
“ Did you find some things that fit?”
“ Yes, I knew they had my size and I just wanted to make sure.”
“ Your phone again?”
“ Yes, and the app had a coupon for today so that helped. Did you see any shoes you liked?
“ There were a couple.”
“ Really, which ones do you like?”
“ The black ones.”
“ Really, the black ones. That would be how many black pairs of running shoes that you add to the ones that you already have?
“ I don’t know. I don’t count. Does the color matter?
“ Well I guess not as long as it’s black right?”
She heads for the door in fifth gear turning right and I follow. She disappears to the right and as I look up, wait could it be. Yes it is. The Apple Store. Now here is someplace daddy can find something he could use. Of course it’s packed with people and blue shirts. When is it ever not?
Lots of smiles and conversations. I scan the store and find her looking at Macbooks.
“ Are you thinking MacBook Pro for school next year?”
“ I know you love yours and I’m not sure yet.”
“ Really, what planet do you think you will be on that you will not use a Macbook Pro?”
“ Seriously you are such a fanboy.”
“ I’m a fanboy? I’m the last human on this earth that will be labeled a fanboy. All the Macbook
Pro does is work every day all the time. That’s all.”
“ Yeah, yeah I get it. I’m so familiar with the other stuff still.”
“ Oh, but you won’t get anything but an iPhone.”
“ You can’t stand iPhones but love MacBooks.”
“ You don’t even blink at the iBeacon stuff.”
“ It’s no big deal. It helps me shop. I use it if I want.”
“ They are collecting data and location and lots of other stuff.’
“ So is everybody else. Apple just sent me a message about upgrading some software for my iPad Mini that you bought me for my birthday.”
“ Is that the iBeacon thing again?”
“Yes, we are in The Apple Store.”
“ I know. I need to buy something.”
“ You are such a shopper.’
“ Don’t even start. This is The Apple Store. I must find and buy something that will advance the human race just because I own and possess it.”
“ We need to leave and pick up my car, it should be ready by now.”
“ I am trying to advance the human race.”
“ Let’s go. I have things to do.”
We head out the door. She glances down at her phone and taps with her fingers. No doubt setting up her next meet up with her friends.
“ The app is thanking me for shopping and is asking for feedback. It is also offering different coupons and incentives for the next time. It is also asking for emails and additional people I am connected to. “ Don’t you even dare.”
“ Come on you are Mr. Shopper and Apple fanboy. There could be some discounts for you.”
“ Where did we park? Is this the same place we came in?”
“ Seriously are you that lost?’
“ I’m not lost. I got distracted by the Cinnamon Rolls. I pretty sure they have some sort of NSA contract or subversive quasi government strategy to keep people lingering.
“ You read way too many cold war spy books.”
“ Those are the only ones worth reading.”
“ Do you ever stop?”
“ Do you ever not look at that phone?”
Then the stare hits me and then the eyes and the tilted head. We find the car. Don’t ask me how? They need to create some kind of app for that. Find your car app. I find my keys start the car and head out. It’s funny now that I think about. That was a shopping experience. It was a shopping experience with a seventeen year old female. She just happens to be my daughter but she is and will be a prime target for a majority of the retail market today tomorrow and a long time coming. She has that phone in her hand ready willing and able to purchase. The iBeacon technology is just the beginning.