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A Man of Few Words - by Swan Morrison

Mall Rescue

I have always enjoyed shopping and have learned to navigate shopping malls, make desired purchases and exit safely. It seemed a natural extension of this hobby, therefore, to join a mall rescue team.

Many people each year require rescue from shopping malls. It still surprises me that so many individuals will enter a mall without regard to even the most basic safety guidelines.

The ‘Mall Code’ states:

1 - Never enter a mall alone. In an emergency a buddy can talk you out of buying that dress you cannot afford.

2 - Always carry a map, and plan your route between specific shops.

3 - Always tell someone your plan and anticipated return time so, if you become lost or trapped by a sales assistant, the alarm can be raised.

4 - Never deviate from your planned route. That Thornton’s chocolate shop may look tempting, but you may lose your grip and become very ill from consuming massive quantities of chocolate.

5 - Carry a limited supply of cash but never a credit card, a debit card or a chequebook.

I and the other members of the rescue team live near our mall and can assemble within ten minutes of an alert. Sometimes this can allow location of a victim before they reach a checkout with armfuls of the latest offers. This can be particularly rewarding.

On other occasions, luck is not with us and, by the time we reach a casualty, they may have made an expensive, unnecessary purchase, signed up for a store card to pay for it and bought an extended warranty. Obviously tragedies of this kind deeply affect the whole team.

So what should you do if you find yourself in difficulties in a shopping mall?

Firstly, don’t panic. Purchasing everything in sight will compound the problem and make things more difficult for the rescue team. Secondly, try to locate a telephone, dial 999 and ask for ‘Mall Rescue’. Calmly describe to the operator the stores around you in order to assist in identification of your position. Finally, while awaiting rescue, seek shelter in a store that sells products in which you have no interest. Women may like to try computer or car accessory shops. Men could try shops selling women’s fashions, though it is best to avoid the underwear and lingerie departments.

There are times of the year when malls should only be explored by experienced shoppers or with a trained guide. The January sales are such a time and clear warnings are published. It is just too easy for the inexperienced to purchase overpriced, poorly made goods from the third world, purporting to be bargains.

Christmas is another danger time, carrying the risk of not only buying items which are unnecessary, but that no one else wants either. Reckless individuals have even been known to bring children into the mall at this time. Youngsters are at particular risk of becoming trapped in a grotto and forced to accept overpriced gifts from a third-rate Santa.

Be sensible, remember the ‘Mall Code’ and enjoy your shopping.