May 13, 2003

Yesterday I ventured off my usual path and headed to the local Kmart, which is in The Gallery, an urban mall on Market St. here in Philadelphia, in search of carpet-cleaning liquid to use in my new Bissell steam vacuum, which is one of the great inventions of all time, by the way.

I'll tell you, except when I was going through the Martha Stewart Everyday collection, I truly felt out of my element there. I say that not to be a snob -- I've recently drastically downscaled my lifestyle, and despite the difficulties of doing so (which have been far more challenging than I expected), I'm happy to have made the change -- I say it only to set the tone for the remainder of this anecdote.

Shortly upon arriving on Kmart's second floor, a noisy scuffle broke out between a man and a woman, both probably in their early thirties. Apparently the gentleman, a misnomer if ever I've used one, was angered by a purchase made by the lady, another misnomer, while he was not present.

Oh, boy, and it got nasty quite quickly.

These two were wailing on each other -- big time. They were screaming and yelling, punching and slapping each other. He kicked her, she pulled his hair. Another woman stepped in trying to break it up, and before long all three were on the floor, creating, if I must say, quite a disturbance, and distracting me from my perusal of Ms. Stewart's latest offerings.

Naturally, a crowd developed, a crowd of which, I'm not entirely ashamed to say, I soon became a part.

To my surprise I noticed a security guard standing near the entrance from Kmart to The Gallery, not more than 50 feet away from the fight. Although apart from the crowd, he might as well have been standing among us. He did nothing. Absolutely nothing, other than to watch the ensuing and rapidly escalating brawl. I shared my astonishment at this with two women standing nearby.

About five minutes into the fight, which by then was getting really ugly, a woman's voice came over the loudspeakers: "Security, please report to area X. Security, please report to area X." (Note: She didn't say "area X," she actually said "area _____," but I'm keeping that to myself for reasons that may soon become clear.)

Then, some two minutes later, the gentleman extricated himself from the altercation -- which was just as well for him, because the lady was at that point beating the crap out of him -- and left the store, walking right past the aforementioned security guard, who again, did absolutely nothing. He just stood and watched as the disgraced pugilist waltzed into the mall.

It was not for another five minutes before even one security guard arrived at the scene of the bout.

I have to say I was pretty shocked by the staff's lack of timely response. When I went downstairs to pay for my carpet cleaner I asked the cashier where "area X" is. She pointed toward the back of the first floor of the store.

Hmmm…Different level, other side of the building. That sounds like a good strategy. And there are cameras all over this place! Nobody saw what was going on? They needed to huddle before breaking up the fisticuffs?

Anyway, I feel most sorry for the little boy who was in the lady's company. No more than four years old he was terrified, crying, shaking, almost traumatized, and with good reason. I hope he is sleeping well. Tonight, at least.


Post a Comment