Anyone who thinks our economy is in the crapper should visit a shopping mall.

Even after Christmas is over and on a weeknight, the malls I've visited from New York to New Jersey to St. Louis are crowded beyond belief.

And of course they're crowded with Oblivions and Obliviots.

Let's start with the parking. I don't mind walking, so I usually park in the farthest spot where there are actually spots available. I can understand why people don't like these far-away spots, because most of them require that you walk across the main mall roads before getting to an entrance, and as we all know, when people go to the mall they turn into Obliviots, even before they get out of their cars.

But that doesn't mean you need to stalk every pedestrian for a spot.

I try not to be a jerk, so I often let the parking-spot stalkers who are following me in their cars know that I'm parked in another county. But some are so oblivious they follow me all the way out anyway, until they realize just how far they need to walk and abandon me for another pedestrian.

The irony is most of these people spend a good 15 minutes looking for a spot remotely close to the entrance. I guess it never dawns on these folks who are too lazy to walk too far to get into the mall that once they're in, they'll probably walk twice as far going from Macy's to Sears and back.

And, as if there were not already more handicapped parking spots than are really needed, now at least six spots are reserved for "curbside pick-up" for some restaurant, like The Cheesecake Factory or Friday's.

Once inside the mall, there are the usual Oblivion suspects.

There are people who unfold every sweater in the place and leave them in a pile so that no one else will have the same, neat shopping experience they just had.

There are the ones who stop at the bottom of the escalator to debate the pros and cons of Charlie Brown Steakhouse vs. Wendy's, so that everybody coming down behind them is forced to do a tiptoe ballet dance to avoid running into them.

At the registers the Oblivions can be on either side.

Sometimes you get the clerk who knows nothing about his job or, more accurately, cares very little about his job. Other times you're stuck behind some Oblivion who winds up on the phone to the store credit office yammering about how much money she spends in the store every year, and she should be forgiven for being late on her payment.

Walking through the mall you'll see little girls dressed like prostitots, usually with some type of writing emblazoned on the butt of their tight sweatpants or miniskirts, like "Juicy" or "Go Wildcats."

That's exactly what I want my eyes directed to, the derriere of some 13-year-old.

Of course, people are always complaining about the Victoria's Secret fashion show on television, but nobody ever complains about the various lingerie shops and departments where poster-sized pictures of scantily clad women modeling lace bras and panties are plastered for all to see.

At least the fashion show doesn't air until 10 p.m.

And let's not forget the stroller Oblivions or the motor scooter Oblivions who expect everybody to get out of their way and never apologize or excuse themselves for taking the skin off the back of your heel or the front of your shin.

It's funny how going to the mall these days is more like a full contact sport.

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