Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Teresa Mira: Activity # 1: Be A Flâneur

A flâneur is someone who walks around the city in order to experience it. The original flâneurs in France walked the arcades to experience the city and the life with in. We now call these arcades malls and in order to be a flâneur I went to Manhattan Mall.

Sitting around the Manhattan Mall for over an hour isn’t exactly the way I normally spend my time in the mall. When I first entered I was just too excited to be at the mall I walked around for a while. I finally found seats downstairs by the escalators. The mall was much emptier than I’m used to, I assume in mid-afternoon on a Wednesday isn’t exactly prime shopping time. I’m also very used to going to the Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City on Long Island, which is the 8th largest mall in the US. I also haven’t really had time to shop in the middle of a week day seeing how I’ve had school during this time most of my life.

In the mall I did however see a lot of women with strollers. I couldn’t exactly tell, however it seemed to be a lot of babysitters with babies as well as some mothers with their babies. This makes sense given the time I was there. Most of the area seemed to be filled with people who work at the mall, be them guards or store workers. The guards seemed to have the same shifts because they talked to each other like they have known each other for years. The store workers seemed to be trying to get more customers into the store, stocking the shelves and making sure their customers have everything they need. I feel like every time you walk into the store they attack you, it’s like “no I don’t need help, I just walked in here a second ago.” Everything in the area seemed to be Valentines Day decorated as well. I being a fan of all holidays but the non-holiday of Valentines Day was just generally sick of this pink and hearts explosion that surrounded the mall. My sitting time was however cut short by my sheer lack of willpower when it comes to shopping.

After about 30 minutes of sitting and watching people partake in my favorite activity I decided I could still be a flâneur and look in stores and possibly buy something in the process. Basically I’m just not a very good flâneur when it comes to being in a mall or generally around shopping temptations. I promptly walked up to look for somewhere to shop. I went to the top level first and saw Strawberry; I’ve never been inside one before so I figured I’d give it a try. It seemed pretty empty as well. There were a few women, probably in their 20’s, shopping in the store. One woman put a bunch of her stuff on the rack and promptly made sure the women looked around near her knew that it was her stuff. I then walked into Victoria Secret the woman, much like the workers down stairs, just as I entered the store asked if I needed help. I declined and continued to look around. There was a man there buying what I assumed to be a Valentines Day gift for his wife or girlfriend. I then left and went downstairs to Charlotte Russe, which was even emptier than the others. I left relatively quickly and went back to my spot on the seats downstairs fulfilling my shopping need. The guards at the stores seemed to look at me suspiciously as I walked around and sat without buying anything. It seemed like they knew I probably could buy something especially with my Starbucks cup, Betsey Johnson bag and Nikon camera but they weren’t quite sure why I wasn’t.

With everything I observed it seems like most average people don’t really pay attention to those around them unless they feel threatened. It seems that people both who work at the mall and shop are a bit paranoid. They feel the need to make sure and make sure again that no one is stealing their things or doing anything of the sort. This mall seems to be going through a transition to attract “higher class” clientele. The stores that are there are more expensive then they once were, to my understanding, and it seems they are still waiting for other stores to decide to open with a few storefronts still vacant.

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