… were the first words out of my mouth when the USA Today notification flashed upon my iPhone screen alerting me to a “shooting at a Maryland mall.” I used to frequent the Mall in Columbia when I lived in the area. I still have many friends that live nearby and I hoped none of them got caught up in the melee. All are ok as far as I know.
I occasionally still visit while on travel for work. I sometimes swing by the Columbia mall to get my Teavana fix. Until recently Albuquerque didn’t have a store. There is a deli in the food court that makes the best potato salad and hand-made sandwiches; there is also a good sushi restaurant across from the mall that I still frequent (the name of it escapes me at the moment).
I remember one December Monday morning. I woke up at 0430 to get ready to go to work. I looked out the window and it was snowing fiercely. Really coming down. An inch had already stuck to the ground so I called the hotline to see if I had to report for duty; nope. Non-essentials did not have to report (it is one of the few times a person is glad to be called a non-essential employee). After sleeping in, at 10:00 the sun came out and melted all evidence that there even was a snow storm. With a sudden free day, I decided to take advantage of it and finish my Christmas shopping at the Columbia mall. I was not the only one with that idea; I bumped into my supervisor — and later — several co-workers. The day turned into a beautiful sunny mid-morning and we felt as if we were playing “hooky.”
As you can see, I have a lot of fond memories of my time at the Columbia mall. Not once did the thought or feeling ever occur to me, that some one could be packing and decide to whip it out causing chaos and harm. The only annoyance I ever encountered was having to dodge the rows of cell phone and cell phone accessory kiosks. Being hounded to show my phone, my service plan, promising they could give me a better contract, or giving me “a special 10% discount” if I showed my employers special access badge. That is the only horror anyone should have to endure at any mall. Well, the cell phone kiosk thing, and dodging packs of hyper-texting pre-teen girls who apparently just discovered makeup and decided to apply all of it in one application.