Something that bothers me about the malls in America is the fact that you can’t look around freely. These otherwise pleasant and interesting places have stalls set up in the centre of their ‘streets’ which are invariably populated by mobile phone companies, and if you should even glance in their general direction, they’ll call out to you and say something like, “Hey boss! Have you heard about Cingular’s new special offer?” After a while, this starts to grate since I happen to value being able to walk around malls with my thoughts to myself and not be disturbed by loud vendors.
This trend went to ridiculous extremes last weekend, when I saw a Verizon vendor call out to a guy walking past tapping on his mobile phone, “Is that a Cingular phone?” The guy replied, “Uh, yes.” I paused, fearing some sort of altercation in which the Verizon vendor would start hurling abuse at the Cingular man. As it was, he just started extolling the virtues of Verizon to the increasingly uncomfortable passerby.
As a result, I’ve taken to walking in the malls staring fiercely ahead in the direction I’m walking, making sure that I never meet the eyes of the vendors. I understand they’ve got a job to do – sell mobile phones – but is it really necessary to be so intrusive?