Screams in the Mall

After years of working in the Mall Kiosk, you get used to the hum and activity associated with being there. This is one of the few places in Redding that bears similarity to a pedestrian street, and I am in the middle of the street. Mall walkers walk, shoppers shop, and staff people gossip to one another. Just like life in any small town, except with security staff just a phone call away.

Every so often a terrifying scream cuts through ambient sounds and muzak. An infant’s cry. Not just a squall of hunger or fatigue. This sound is unmistakably a cry for help. A scream that cuts right to your very DNA that screams to your core “AN INFANT HUMAN IS IN TROUBLE! HELP!” You can’t help yourself. You have to look. The scream is a stunning imperitive. There can be no mistake.

Of course you look, at least the first few times it happens. What could possibly be happening, and how can I help that baby in trouble? Well, you can’t help them at all. That baby just got pierced.

Often the newly pierced baby has an entourage of mother and aunts and whomever else is in the family. Welcome to the world of getting pierced in a shopping mall, my fellow human. I like to look at the entourage and their faces. That scream is breathtaking. Everybody is looking. I think even the entourage are often taken aback by the urgency of that special scream. Uncomfortable smiles ensue.

I think the sound is like crows communicating that a predator is nearby, or similar. Not really words that they use, rather the tone and urgency communicate the message. The message here is urgent. You can see it in the faces of passerbys. The scream cuts across all our consciousness.

Little baby so-and-so, with her new ear stud. Her face is red and twisted into a mask of despair. “Mom, how could you let this happen to me?” I never get used to it. A human pain ritual at a shopping mall jewelery cart. Well, maybe I am getting used to it. But it’s still remarkable.

As I blog about it, why is this human pain ritual considered so mundane that we would take our precious young to a minimum wage employee in the middle of the mall to have their newly minted flesh pierced by sharp metal? It’s much more than just getting a haircut. This I know from the scream. I guess I find it less weird when it’s adults getting piercings, rather than babies and young children. But when you think about it as a concept, it’s still very weird, and yet it’s so widely accepted. I must know at least one person with every type of piercing possible. Yes, even the more peculiar ones… let’s just say that someone from work has a piercing that’s in a place which is not your average stud placement. Ouch.

Why not start a business in the mall to serve that clientele with seating, dramatic video and lighting, and climatic choir music, a priest-like figure holds the infant high over an altar of some sort. Or maybe a feng-shui scheme, very Zen like. Day spa style. Heck your choice. Name a theme. I think there is a business here waiting to happen.

Or just another piercing scream at the Mall Kiosk.
Mt Shasta Mall in Redding

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