All I Want For Christmas is Easier Parking

I just told my sister that I failed to find a Christmas gift for her. She’s going to get a hug and a gift card instead. Here’s why.

On Friday, I was on an errand to drop some items off at a San Jose thrift store and it occurred to me that I wasn’t very far from a large shopping mall. So, I drove further down the road to the mall, thinking I would buy some gifts. Silly me.

First, I had trouble getting in to the mall’s parking structure. The mall is next to a major freeway and so a person has to anticipate moving over three lanes of traffic within half a block in order to access the road to the parking garage. I almost did it, but then there were construction barriers that confused me, so I missed the moment.

2A Parking Garage LAX via Wikimedia Commons

Undaunted, I continued driving, thinking I would go all the way around the shopping mall to get at the parking garage from the opposite direction. As it turns out, they had another parking garage at the far end and I successfully found its entrance and, eventually, a parking space. Recognizing the size and complexity of the building, I made a point to memorize the fact that my car was in area L2A, and I found my way to the mall itself.

I saw two entrances; one identified as Macy’s and the other as Nordstrom. I picked the door marked Nordstrom and wandered into the morass of women’s clothing. 

I know that malls are suffering because shoppers are defecting to Amazon, but they are also shooting themselves in the foot by the way in which they lay out their stores. The clothing floors are visually overwhelming, physically stifling, and logically unfathomable. You cannot simply shop, for example, for a white blouse. Items are not organized by type of garment. Instead they are organized by designer label, which is particularly bizarre to those of us who could not distinguish between designers even if you held us at gunpoint.

After getting some of my daily steps in by wandering between racks of Christmas sweaters and glittery frocks, I decided to walk out into the mall proper and see what else was there.  I saw all the standard mall stores and was enticed into a couple of them with offers of discounts, but I wasn’t tempted to actually buy anything. In wandering about I noted with satisfaction that Victoria’s Secret was devoid of customers but Talbots was bustling. I get my joy wherever I can.

Ultimately, I spent most of my time at Macy’s but with increasing weariness as I became overwhelmed by it all. Clearly, I was not in the appropriate frame of mind for this safari into the glad-rag jungle, and so I decided to leave. You’d think that would be easy, wouldn’t you? But, no. 

Westfield Valley Fair via Wikimedia Commons

I found my way to the parking lot well enough, but once there I spent a long time looking for my car. The problem was that I found L2E through L2B, but no L2A.  How could this be? By now I needed a rest and a pee, but there was no place for either. There was, however, an official-looking vehicle with a driver talking to a woman who also was unable to find her car. I asked the man what had happened to L2A and he suggested that I might be in the wrong parking structure. Sure enough, not only are there two parking structures, there are also two Macy’s. Now I know for sure that this mall was designed with evil intent.

I think step counters should have some mechanism for adding value for how exhausted you are while walking. At a much slower pace now, I managed to walk back the entire length of the mall to the other Macy’s in order to find the correct parking garage. But it was not over yet.

I could not find my way out of this Macy’s to the garage, even though I know I had seen shoppers doing exactly that when I arrived. I asked a man who looked as though he worked there how to find it, and he gave me some directions that helped a little. En route, I stopped a woman to ask if I was on the right track, and she informed me that the bridge between the mall and the parkade that I had seen was now closed for some reason. This meant that I had to take a different, more complicated route or (gasp) go outside!

She suggested that if I didn’t want to get cold, I could leave this store and go back through the mall to Nordstrom’s and leave through their garage access. Alternatively, I could go down to ground level, leave by the Safeway exit, and walk outside to the parking garage. I told her with a smile that I wouldn’t be cold; I’m Canadian. Then I happily exited the building into fresh air.

After walking five minutes to the garage and eventually finding a staircase to level 2, I found my car without much trouble. Exiting the garage proved to be another challenge as I had no idea which way to go once I was in the access road. I had to pull over and get out my GPS in order to find my way back to the main road, but eventually I found it and didn’t even try to get on the freeway. I know my limitations.

I also know that I’m not likely to face a shopping mall anytime soon. Certainly not until after the January sales. I can find easier ways to keep up my step count.


  1. I’ve simply got completely fed up with the whole business . and business being the operative word.
    We do the tree and a few decorations, and a nice meal, but that’s about it.

    It’s never been easy for me, coming from Northern Climes, to celebrate xmas in 32 degrees c.

    1. I am in a similar mind frame. I got out the tree and it needs a string of lights, but now I’m reluctant to go and get them! So, I ordered them from Amazon. That means I’m part of the problem, but I can live with that.

  2. Oh my goodness! I can kind of see a movie there…a little like Trains, Planes, and Automobiles with the final relief at the end.

  3. Two Macy’s stores in one mall?! Wow. That IS diabolical! I do love your observation about how goods are arranged by designer, instead of by functionality. Wouldn’t it be interesting if some retailer decided to group all of the similar blouses together, and then pants, and so on? It’s how consumers have become used to shopping, thanks to the internet — so I think it would be a big hit. We’d still have to get past that Mobius strip of a parking ramp, though. Sigh. Well … best wishes on completing your shopping, and happy holidays!

    1. I know! It turns out they have one Macy’s for women’s clothes and another Macy’s for men’s clothes and everything else.

      I once wrote to the Hudson’s Bay store (Canada’s version of Macy’s) in Calgary suggesting that they revise the layout to sort clothes by type instead of designer. They didn’t reply.

  4. “Items are not organized by type of garment. Instead, they are organized by designer label, which is particularly bizarre to those of us who could not distinguish between designers even if you held us at gunpoint.”
    I chuckled at this, as it is so true of me as well. I don’t even know the designer names, so it’s all lost on me.
    Malls send me into sensory overload and I become zombie-like. I have to drive to 30 miles Kansas City if I want a mall experience, and I rarely have that urge. Do you remember the awe of the first time going to a mall though? I do, as a child/tweener and it was so magical then. Especially with Christmas decorations. But I didn’t have to find parking then.

    1. I remember malls being a kind of community centre. People of all ages would go there to meet and greet as well as shop. I miss that atmosphere.

      Now that I think about it, there used to be a wider range of products for sale then, too. Now it’s almost entirely clothing.

        1. Suburban malls were great for people who didn’t have a high street to go to. They were designed for car culture and provided lots of parking. The mall I went to the other day is huge and has multi-storey parking garages, and it still seems popular. I don’t think I would have gone there if I wasn’t Christmas shopping, though.

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