Geekery at the Mega-Mall - Part 3 Maryland/Delaware Border The Fashion Club stopped at a gas station immediately on the Delaware side of the border. “Why are we stopping here?” Sandi asked. “We need gas!” Guy, the Fashion Club's driver, said. “Didn't you fill it up back in Lawndale, like, before you picked us up?” Sandi asked. “No, you were insistant on leaving so quickly!” “Right! I'll fill it then!” Sandi said. She went to the bowser herself. Guy drove the car away from the gas station. “You didn't have to fill the car up,” Guy said. Sandi turned to him “I want to get to the Mall of the Millennium as soon as possible, like with a minium of delay. We have already been in rush hour traffic, like back in Baltimore!” “Right,” Guy said, his eyes on the road. Crossbro, Delaware Rob drove carefully as they approached the edge of the Mall of the Millennium's outer parking lots. “It's going to take a while to find a park and to walk in,” he said. “Of course,” Wolfgang said. “I know,” Quinn said. “I will park in the first one I find,” Rob said. “That would be best,” Quinn said. “I agree,” Wolfgang said. Xavier looked at the clock on the dashboard. It was 10:45. 'I has to be all that traffic in Baltimore. The radio didn't really help,' he thought. It took a while for Koichi to find a space. At 11:00 Sandi stalked ahead of the Fashion Club into the Mall of the Millennium's main entrance. 'If you hadn't been late, Stacy, we would not have been, like, caught in Rush Hour traffic on the way through Baltimore!” “I said I was sorry!” Stacy said. Sandi glared at Stacy. Guy sighed. “And if we hadn't needed more gas!” Sandi said to Guy. “I did say I'm sorry!” he said. Sandi just gave him a look of disapproval. At 11:15 the Economics class had just entered the Mall and were already lost... “We're in area B, section Pink, and we need to get to area C, section Orange. So, if we just bear right at area L, section Blue... oh, wait, sorry. Wrong level,” Mrs. Bennett said, trying to get the class out of the predicament. Kevin noticed an interesting store. “Look, Mack Daddy! The Sports Shorts! A whole store full of shorts for sports!” “Uh-huh,” Mack said, too tired to try to tell Kevin to not call him by that nickname. 'Why doesn't he get it through his thick head already!' “Everyone, we'll walk down R Moss, and turn right at Q Canary. Please keep the flow, people, please keep the flow,” Mrs. Bennett said. “I could find the way if she let me have the map,” Jennifer whispered to Jane. “Maybe,” Jane said with a shrug. “Who would ever guess there'd be so many colors? The person who thought them all up must be a genius,” Brittany said. “Yeah, and we haven't even gotten to puke green yet,” Jane said. She glanced at Daria, who still looked queasy from the bus trip. “Oh, yeah.” “I hope we find the executives soon,” Jennifer said. “Why?” Daria asked. “So we can get out of this boredom,” Jennifer said. 'That makes sense,' Daria thought. “Left at N Cranberry. Wait, is that cranberry or magenta? Jane, you're an artist,” Mrs. Bennett asked, unsure of the colors. “It's cranapple,” Jane said. 'Very difficult to tell,' Mack thought. Charles Rutthimer III, otherwise known as Upchuck, noticed a store that piqued his purient interest. “Mrs. B? Can we please stop for a minute at Bikini Island? I'd like to buy a few trifles for the ladies, and perhaps you'd care to pick out something for yourself?” “Not now, Charles. We'll be late for our meeting with the mall executives. I had to work very hard to arrange this. These are very important, very busy...” Mrs. Bennett trailed off as she was distracted by something that piqued her own interest. “What is it, Mrs. B?” Upchuck asked. Mrs. Bennet ran over to a store and looked in. “The Fuzzy Wuzzy Wee-Bit Shop! Herbert and I collect Fuzzy Wuzzy Wee Bits! Aren't they adorable? Look, a Fuzzy Wuzzy Wee Bits cactus! And look at that little bunny rabbit with its own Fuzzy Wuzzy carrot!” “Great!” Daria said. They soon found themselves in a conference room. “... And of course, when you go to the mall, you look for what?” One of the Mall Executives asked the class. “Bikinis! Make that lovely, luscious, ladies in bikinis!” Upchuck said. 'Of course he would say that!' Jennifer thought with a slight shake of her head. “I always look for security guards leading away someone in handcuffs. Shoplifters are the best judges of merchandise,” Jane said. “I agree. If it's so good that people want to steal it, I want it,” Jennifer said, quietly after exchanging a look with Jane. “I meant more along the line of the qualities you look for? The stores? What should they be like?” the Executive asked, trying to get the conversation away from the topic of shoplifting. 'Easy to browse,' Jennifer thought. “I have a question. Do you think our demographic can really be addressed by middle-aged middle managers telling us what's fun to buy?” Jodie asked. The executives looked at each other. It was clear that they didn't expect a student with critical thinking skills to be on the field trip. One of them turned to Daria. “How about you? How many times a year do you go to the mall?” Daria looked annoyed. “That's none of your business. By the way, don't people usually get paid for participating in market research?” “Research?” the executive askd in a strangled voice. “Now, Daria, these busy executives have been nice enough to give their time to help educate us on mall economics,” Mrs. Bennett said. “Tell us about flow, would you?” Daria leaned between her two friends and pointed to where Brittany was still prancing and making cheer moves. “I bet that's a two-way mirror.” “Possibly,” Jennifer said. “You mean, if you turn out the lights you can see through it?” Jane asked as she reached back towards a light switch. Jennifer shrugged slightly. “Oh, you don't want to do that!” one of the executives said. Jane turned off the lights. The students could then see three observers through the glass wall. They murmered amongst themselves. “This is wrong!” Mack said. “The focus group is, um, a very important tool in mall management. We thought that with this live demonstration...” One of the executives began. He was interuppted by Jodie. “I feel used. I feel abused. I feel that this is not a fun mall after all and the media should be made aware of it!” The executive changed tack. “All right, little lady.” He reached into his pocket. “Here's a coupon for a free frozen yogurt.” “Don't insult me,” Jodie said with her arms crossed. The executive reached into his pocket again. “Make it a ten dollar merchandise coupon?” 'You're doing it wrong,' Jennifer thought. “You're still insulting her,” Jane said. One of the other executives held out two handfuls or coupons. “Okay, a twenty dollar merchandise coupon for everyone in the class.” “You don't get it. There's a principle involved,” Daria said. “No, there isn't,” Jodie said as she joined most of the other students. “So much for idealistic youth,” Jennifer said. “Yes, there is, damn it!” Daria said. She clenched her fists and moved towards the executives. She quickly found herself being held back by her two friends. “Whoa there, Daria, cool down!” Jane said. “Getting into a 'tussle' with the Mall Executives would not prove anything,” Jennifer said. 'It certainly wouldn't!' Daria calmed down and sat. “How about a fifty dollar coupon for you, little lady?” “Don't insult me,” Daria said, repeating Jodie's line from earlier. The executive held out another coupon. “One hundred dollars, final offer.” “I'll take it,” Daria said. “What got into you?” Mrs. Bennett asked. “Integrity,” Daria said. “Good answer,” Jennifer said. After having looked through other stores, Quinn and her entourage finally found the Cuter Computer store. “Finally,” she said. “There is a lot of stuff here,” Wolfgang said as he looked in. “Of course,” Quinn said. “What are you getting first?” Xavier asked. Quinn started walking to the software aisles. “Apparently they have Photoshop Elements 4 on sale,” she said. “But didn't that just come out this month?” Wolfgang asked. “Yes,” Quinn said. “Interesting,” Koichi said. Quinn soon found it. “Here it is, Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.” She saw that it was 10% off. She picked it up and handed the package to Wolfgang. “You are going to make us carry all the stuff?” he asked. “Of course not! I will be carrying some of it,” Quinn said. The sophomore economics students looked at the coupons that they had received. “Cuter Computer, for all things to do with Computers. Aw, man!” Kevin said after looking at his coupon. “Books by the Ton. Interesting, maybe they could have business related stuff there,” Mack said after looking at his. Upchuck looked at his coupon “Incensory, for all your incense and related pagan worship needs! I don't have any use for this!” “Drat!” Andrea Hecuba said as she overheard Upchuck. “The Doo Dad Shop? What's a Doo Dad anyway?” Jane said. “Sports Shorts! I don't have any use for shorts for sports!” Daria said. “Sissor Wizard?” Jennifer said purplexed. “Probably a store full of sissors,” Jane said. “Such a store would be quite useless,” Jennifer said. “Daria, Jen and Jane, you'll observe traffic patterns at the food concessions, and Kevin and Brittany, you will study and report back on shrinkage,” Mrs. Bennett directed. “What's shrinkage?” Kevin asked. “Shrinkage is the retailing term for shoplifting. I'd like you to analyze its economic impact. Does everyone else understand their assignments?” The class murmered in assent. “Now, we'll meet back here at quarter to three. Remember, area F, section Moss, level three. Got it? F Moss Three.” Daria, Jane and Jennifer walked away as Mrs. Bennett and Kevin talked about a mnemonic device that he was going to use. “Where to we start?” Jennifer asked. “Sissor Wizard, I can actually use a new pair of scissors,” Jane said. “Of course,” Jennifer said.