About a month ago I decided to tag along with a good friend of mine to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Despite traveling through much of America, I’d never been to the land o’ lakes. It was time, and the price was right: free. My friend was going up there anyways and the passenger seat was empty.
I hemmed and hawed, thinking about my budget. In recent months I’ve become a bit mad about saving money. Heck, I’ve come undone by a mere $4 book that I avoided! But that militancy towards my budget has largely paid off. My savings has quickly ballooned.
Nonetheless, I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to join in the fun and meet some new people. The drive, about five hours from Iowa City, Iowa to Minneapolis, Minnesota, is through some of the more fertile land in America. This is truly where our food comes from. Always a suburb or city-boy at heart, I quickly displayed my naivete when I incorrectly labeled corn stalks as, “ahhh, look at that, they’re growing soybeans!” Yeah, I was out of my element.
When we finally closed in on the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, I was pumped to be in this new city. Whenever I’m out of my home cities, I feel a powerful urge to be both anxious and excited — all at once. That rush was endless, as around every corner there was something new and different about the Twin Cities. I loved it!
Along the way, my friend said, “Is there anything you want to do in particular? Is there anything you really want to see?” With a wistful, targetless attitude, I suggested that I was open to anything, but had no idea where to go next. That’s when he said, “How about we check out the Mall of America?”
Instantly, this rush of excitement filled me. Think about all of the numerous shops and stores and restaurants! The Mall of America was founded in 1992 and has about 7,900,000 square feet of space, which is spread out between a shocking number of floors and land. Walking into this place, it’s like an amusement park; in fact, there’s one built-in to the mall!
I soon turned to my friend and said the most obvious thing I could think of, “This place is just made for people to consume and buy more stuff.” Clouded and in shock, I decided to walk into a coffee shop and imbibe a small one. The two of us, propped onto some cushy couches and people watched.
There were women barely wearing anything — bursting out of their skintight clothing. There were families battling for the next choice in destination. There were young people and old.
Finally, we decided it was time to go. As we made our departure, a family asked nearby shoppers to take a picture of them. They had one child in their stroller, who was saddled with bags upon bags of new clothing. In the middle of taking another picture — curiously positioned in front of an elevator — the child fell backwards, as the weight of the bags outweighed the young one.
I turned to my friend and couldn’t help laughing aloud. Here we were in consumption central, and someone had loaded this stroller so full of products that the child was no longer safe. Somehow it spoke to me. Why are we buying like this when we know that the environment is suffering and the total U.S. consumer debt stands at a whopping $11.4 trillion? The family, curiously, just propped the kid back up in the stroller and resumed the photos — bags still weighing down the stroller. They certainly put new meaning to the cliche, “Shop till you drop.”
Now, as Minneapolis develops a light rail system to and from the airport and city, those on an airport layover needn’t see the metropolis. Instead, you can just hop on the public transportation directly to the Mall and buy endlessly. You don’t even need to see the local culture!
Like surviving a crazy amusement ride, I feel like I need a t-shirt that says, “I went to the Mall of America and all I bought was a coffee.”