Working in retail in a mall, I’ll sometimes get scheduled for an early morning shift at a time before anyone but a few employees and a couple of security guards are in the building. With the mall itself being a mini-transit hub of sorts, you can actually watch the mall, and therefore the city, come alive as the minutes tick by in those first couple of hours. It’s almost like watching a time lapse video live, witnessing a building fill up with more and more different types of people.
It always starts out with the other early-shifters. Usually there’s a coffee in their hands as they make their way to the workplace. Next, you’ll catch some of the homeless wanderers taking a break from the outside and sitting on a public, cushioned bench. Then security will pass by and, depending on the guard, will either let the resting wanderers hang out or advise them to move it along. The next hour will start to see more retail workers coming up the escalators, with a couple of morning window shoppers passing through the building. Then the suits start to arrive in groups, clearly carpoolers or transit buddies, all either going to or coming from Starbucks or Second Cup.
Another hour rolls by, and more of the general public are starting to filter in. The mall’s still relatively quiet and empty, but there’s murmurs of life at this point. Even more suits and employees start filtering in as the other shops gates open halfway and the lights start coming on. Window shoppers are starting to settle in on the first shop they plan to enter once that time comes around. The wanderers have usually moved on by this point, either back outside or to another part of the mall that also has comfortable, cushioned benches. Shipment deliveries are starting to pull through the mall, ready to replenish store inventories. This is also usually the time when something out of the ordinary could happen. It could be someone dressed completely inappropriately for the weather running by. It could be someone evading the police, trying to cut through the mall non-chalantly but definitely failing because of the constant looks over their shoulder. Someone may just decide to start singing really loudly into the cavernous and tall glass ceilings.
Then, it’s the opening hour, and the slightly larger window shopping settlers make their way into their stores and begin their most likely already-planned-out day. Some are here for a quick first-thing-in-the-morning pickup, some are here just to chat and browse, but I always take a mental note to appreciate that they decided to start their day here, and I should try to make it a great start to their day.
But it’s an interesting organism to observe while it awakes. There’s something beautiful and strange about a very-spacious site gradually go from completely empty to hustling and bustling and actually being there as an observer to watch it happen. It’s a really random experience to write about, as it’s a mere observational post, but it was interesting enough to compel me to do this.
Random. But cool. (I’m tired.)