Must Have Been a Work-Study Program
I'd flipped through all the channels on the TV, read both tattered old US magazines back to front and eaten everything from the vending machine that I thought could alleviate my terrified boredom.
An orderly came in and sat down, beaming from ear to ear. "Hey m'man," he gleamed, "Where are you from?"
I was thrilled for the conversation. "Me?" I was the only one there. "I'm from Norfolk. Norfolk, Virginia."
"Norfolk, Virginia! Wow! Macarthur Mall is up in Norfolk..."
Macarthur Mall is a brand new shopping mall in Norfolk. It has been referred to as the Tyson's of the South.
"Macarthur Mall, that's like the Smithsonian. The Smithsonian of malls..." he trailed off, his eyes focusing on something distant and wonderful.
At this point a loud alarm bell began clanging repeatedly. We had to shout over it. "That mall, it's the best thing in the world. It's got an Abercrombie and Fitch and airthang. I don't go up in a mall unless it has an Abercrombie and Fitch, and that mall has the BEST Abercrombie and Fitch. That's my test for a mall, do it have an Abercrombie and Fitch, and that Abercrombie and Fitch passes like a motherfucker!"
He said 'motherfucker' with such sweet sincerity that I almost thought he was complimenting his mother on a new dress.
The bell continueed pealing.
"Yeah, boy, I was up in that mall one time and"
Another orderly hurried into the room and shouted "Mister Jenkins! Mister Jenkins! Do you hear that alarm bell, Mister Jenkins!?"
Mister Jenkins tore himself out of his retail reverie. He looked at me and winked, still smiling, and said, "Oh yeah, honey. I heard that alarm bell. I just wasn't tryin' to hear it."
Then he got up, excused himself, and went off to attend to God only knows what neglected task.