Deadly Ever After

The Writing Adventures of The Undead Duo–Julie Hutchings and Kristen Strassel

New Adult: Mall Edition

Today’s Brew:  Blueberry Angel Dew

by Kristen

In hell, I’ll have to work at the mall.

In my former life, I was a retail manager. That’s the dignified way to say I worked full time at the mall.  The jobs themselves were soul sucking and not rewarding.  But I loved a lot of the people I worked with.  Many of them I’m still friends with.  I met my godson’s mother working at Piercing Pagoda in 2001.  I’m going to be a bridesmaid in my old manager’s wedding next spring.

Very few people say “I want to work at the mall full time when I grow up!”  So for many people, it was a stop along the way, to get to the next place.  Many of the people I worked with would be considered new adults, age wise they fit, and they were trying to figure out who they were.  Most of the time I worked at the mall, I was deep in the ‘burbs, so we didn’t have a lot of serious college students like we did at city stores.  The ones who studied to be doctors and scientists always fascinated me, because of the work and dedication that went in to it. I couldn’t commit to anything so completely at that age, which is how I wound up working at the mall.  Because of that, the coworkers I felt the closest to were the ones who weren’t making the best decisions.  Or the ones who couldn’t follow the “high school college marriage” path because their childhoods hadn’t set them up for that kind of success. They had to do the best with what they had to work with.

One girl’s parents didn’t have their shit together enough to take care of her.  She had to move in with her boyfriend when she was 18.  Later, another boyfriend got her pregnant, and she had to live with his family for years after the baby was born, even though they broke up when she was still pregnant, because she simply couldn’t afford to live anywhere else. God, that guy was such a shithead. Another girl’s mother was murdered when she was in High School. She was beaten to death by her drunk boyfriend. Later, her brother was also murdered.  She really wanted to be a makeup artist and work fashion shows in New York, but instead she wound up marrying her first boyfriend and working in a local salon.  On a brighter note, another girl worked in restaurants and stores until she was in her late twenties, and now is going for her doctorate in her mid thirties.

I cringed when I watched them make the same mistakes I had made, and cheered them on in their successes.  Sometimes, you have to lose everything to find out how strong you really are.

I don’t want to write about people who have everything.  I don’t know those people. These are the people I know.  It killed me to watch these girls screw things up and squander great opportunities.  That’s life. But they all came out OK. And they’re striving for better.

My mall coworkers and I used read. A lot. We actually had a little book club going, and wound spend hours talking about books.  We read Laurell K. Hamilton, Charlaine Harris, and of course Stephenie Meyer among others.

I’ve participated in a lot of New Adult chats and many of them talk about college students. Not everyone goes to college. It’s just not realistic. If you want to talk about coming of age and making hard decisions on your own, the best place to look is at The School Of Hard Knocks.  Or your local mall.

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