Friday, September 11, 2009

Miscellaneous Observations by Chester Campbell

My daily (almost) two-mile walk at the mall provides an opportunity to observe goings-on among the populace as well as ponder plot points for my mysteries. I thought I’d mention a couple of observations from yesterday’s stroll. Well, a little faster than a stroll. I walk a 15-minute mile.

The first thing I noticed was the cops. Ordinarily I will encounter one, at the most two, mall security types in their spiffy uniforms with their Smokey Bear hats. My wife and I call them Barney Fifes after the Don Knotts character on the Andy Griffith Show. But, yesterday, I entered the Food Court to find a pair of blue-clad Metro Nashville policemen standing there. Once in a while I find a lone cop around but seldom two.

They were talking to the mall security chief, a guy who’s normally dressed in jacket and tie. He probably packs heat, although the Barneys aren’t allowed to.

As I continued, across the way I spotted two more of Metro’s finest walking along the concourse. One of these was female. They were chatting away more like shoppers than cops on the beat. I walk too fast for my wife, so when I ran into her a little later and mentioned the uniforms, I learned she had encountered yet another pair. She was concerned about what dire emergency might be in the making.

Recalling the youthful looks on their faces, I realized there was no crisis afoot. Several days ago, the nightly news covered the graduation ceremony for a new class at the Metro Police Academy. Before the new cops are sent onto the streets, they put in familiarization time in various venues. This batch was getting a taste of the mall.

So, nothing to go in my WIP.

Speaking of the security chief, I spotted him at a new kiosk being handed a couple of brass looking cylinders by a smiling, sexy wench. Signs on display advertised “Stress Test.” The tell-tale clue, though, was the “Dianetics” sign above the kiosk and the display of books by L. Ron Hubbard.

It had been awhile since I gave any thought to Scientology, except when reading about Tom Cruise, so I went to Google to refresh my memory. The device the young woman used is called an E-Meter. Wikipedia describes it this way:

“The Church of Scientology restricts the use of the E-meter to trained professionals, treating it as ‘a religious artifact used to measure the state of electrical characteristics of the “static field” surrounding the body’. The meter is believed to reflect or indicate whether or not a person has been relieved from spiritual impediment of past experiences. It can only be used by Scientology ministers or ministers-in-training and does not diagnose or cure anything. The E-meters used by the Church of Scientology are manufactured at the Church of Scientology's Golden Era Productions facility.”

I don’t know if she was a minister or a minister-in-training, but a few days before a neatly-dressed, tall black guy had been at the booth observing the performance. I had been invited to take a test but declined with a smile. When I’m walking, I don’t stop for anything, even a chance to be Scientologically “cleared” and freed from all my ailments.

Hubbard has been hailed as a fairly decent science fiction writer, though not being into sci-fi I can’t vouch for it. But from what I’ve read about his “religion,” it sounds more like fiction than science.

Have you observed anything interesting in a mall lately?

Mystery Mania


Jean Henry Mead said...

Chester, I avoid malls whenever possible, but have been reading about Obama's Youth groups, young people who are present in malls and other places where people gather to conduct "crowd control." I've also seen junior high school students on the news standing in formation like army troops saluting Obama's picture while chanting "O-Bama." This is all too reminiscent of Hitler's storm troopers, which gives me the willies.

Morgan Mandel said...

That sounds pretty scary, Jean.

I don't go to malls either. I go on shopping binges on vacation mostly to places like Kohls and Walmart.

Morgan Mandel

Chester Campbell said...

I haven't seen any of the Obama troops at our mall. We're beginning to see a few more shoppers than in the past several months, but I don't know if they're buying more. We used to hit the mall before the stores opened but don't seem to make it that early very often.