Arriving at a busy shopping mall, do you drive around endlessly in search of a space? Do you meander, as though on a Sunday drive through the country, until luck strikes?
Or are you a different breed entirely, one who idles the car outside the mall doors? It’s not stalking, really, is it? Let’s call it “following with intent.”
Sure, this approach might get you labelled a creep, but that’s not the only peril.
After all, you might follow your target all the way across the lot only to watch as they dodge through some bushes to the sidewalk, and wait for a bus. Back to square one.
The obvious solution is to first ask, “Hey, you leaving in a car?” before initiating the pursuit. If they nod, there will be that added charm of the fact you’re not only following them at 4 km/h in your vehicle, but they know you are. You’ve made a friend.
Then there is the hybrid approach. You wander the lot until you spot someone with bags, or a shopping cart, and you make the contact there. It seems like serendipity, doesn’t it? Like a surprisingly pleasant chat with an attractive server at a restaurant. You’re both there for a purpose. You’re not a vulture.
I must say, though, it’s good to pick your spots.
If a woman is coming out of Superstore with two toddlers and a baby, and an obscene amount of groceries, “Hey, you leavin’?” might not get you a smile.
When it comes to parking, I prefer the outdoor variety. Even if you’re not claustrophobic, there’s something about the cavernous, multi-tiered parkades at Metrotown and Pacific Centre that suggest a trip to the centre of the earth. I get short of breath. Even in a small car, the ceilings seem low, the spots squeakingly narrow.
The real challenge is to find your car when you come back.
There was a time when I just said to myself “You left it by the concrete pillar” but soon learned this wasn’t good enough.
Today, I get out of the car and walk backwards toward the elevator. It’s like previewing how things will look when I return.
A friend takes this one step further and snaps a photo with her camera phone.
For the tech lovers, there are also devices like the “Auto Finder,” which I found online from the appropriately named Finder Technologies. The website states it can “find your car from one-half mile away… using our patented radio direction-finding technology.”
Put the beacon on your windshield behind the rearview, and when you exit the shops all befuddled, anxious, catatonic, suicidal, pondering just abandoning your car forever – wherever the heck it is – you simply pull out your little fob, and press a button. Then you spin around in circles until, like a geiger counter or something, it suddenly goes beep-beep-beep and the arrows light up.
An improvement on this, in my humble opinion, would be one that says “warmer… warmer… oh, you’re getting hot, hotter.”
Finder Technology also sells a the Child Finder, and Pet Finder too, though I’m not sure where you’re supposed to affix the beacon to your kid. Regardless, it’s a great idea. You could just let them loose in the morning, then pull out the fancy gadget and track them down at the end of the day. No more daycare, no more using the kennel. Brilliant.
Chris Bryan is editor of the NewsLeader, a sister paper to The News.