Like everyone else, I’ve been postponing hair appointments. Apart from the time and money I’m saving, it just seems such a hassle to get myself dressed in street clothes, get in the car, mask up, sanitize and sit in the hairdressers for a couple of hours. My stylist is in Toronto’s Sherway Gardens which compounds the problem by requiring me to go into a mall. I risk exposing myself to hundreds of other people and I’m in the high-risk category, i.e. old.
It had been more than three months since my last trim and more than five months since I’d had my highlights done, so I was due. So, I took a chance and called my salon at 10:45 in the morning to see if they could fit me in sometime soon. “Can you be here for 11:00?” they asked. So I had forty-five minutes to get showered, dressed and plant my ass in the chair . . . and I did it. The next day the government announced full COVID-19 lockdown restrictions so I got in just under the wire.
After my hair appointment I took the escalator up to the food court for a bite of lunch. It looked like a deserted warehouse. The food outlets were open but there were hardly any customers and all the chairs and tables had been removed or barricaded off. I was the first and only person in line for Japanese food so I bought a takeout container of sushi and a drink, then looked around trying to scope out a spot where I could eat. The lockdown wasn’t even in effect yet but there was no accommodation for old ladies like me to sit down rest for a minute or two and gobble our lunch. No tables. No chairs.
So, I went back down the escalator and wandered the mall until I spotted two lonely chairs outside the Michael Kors store. One chair was occupied by an older man with a collection of shopping bags at his feet that he was guarding until his wife returned. The only other chair in sight was occupied by a twenty-something young woman who was engrossed in scrolling through her smartphone. By now it was 1:30 p.m. I was tired, cranky, and starving so I squatted down on the marble floor in the middle of the mall and spread out my sushi lunch, picnic-style on the floor.
When I was nearly finished eating, the elderly man came over and offered me his chair but I declined because it required too much effort to haul myself up and move the entire production to the chair. Even after having both hips replaced a few years ago, the new ones don’t work quite as efficiently as the ones I had when I was in my twenties. Hoisting myself up and down requires considerable effort and the use of all four limbs. The lazy, inconsiderate bitch in the only other chair decided to go to the washroom but she pissed out her territory by leaving her backpack on the chair until she came back. No consideration for the old lady (me).
Later, as I was driving home, I found myself reflecting on what a totally exhausting and unpleasant experience the day had been. Not only was I unable to find a place to sit down and eat but I spent the entire time behind a mask steaming up my glasses and trying not to bump into people. I did get new hair but the rest of the day was enough to make me think twice about ever hitting a mall again. Costco, Walmart and other stores are obviously out of the question as well. Thank goodness for Amazon Prime. Most of the time I love being an old lady but that day was just not a good one.
The lockdown rules and restrictions necessitated by COVID-19 have definitely put an end to the pleasures of mall-crawling. No more carefree hours browsing the stores followed by a relaxing lunch from a choice of international food stalls in the food court. No more trying on new lipstick colours from the testers that have been carefully sterilized by sales associates. No more food. No more tables and chairs for old ladies to plop down on and enjoy a cup of Timmie’s steeped tea. I tried squatter dining and cannot recommend it.
The day did serve to remind me of the benefits of the good old days though, back when I could shop, eat, sit, breathe and see without impairment or obstacles. I do feel sorry for retailers, particularly Sherway Gardens in Toronto and Square One in Mississauga, my once-regular haunts. I honestly do not know how they will survive without me. It’s a heavy burden to bear.