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Another Portland Blog

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

 

The mall of lost souls

Here's a description of a mall outside of Bend I wandered into recently. It's a tale that's sure to warm your heart.

It was about the size of a small bus station depot. Half the overhead fluorescents were turned off/burned out and it consisted almost entirely of boarded up storefronts. There was a sad little pet shop with no one in it across from a Verizon store. When I passed, the employees were shouting about various promotional deals. They quickly reeled in a guy, somehow not a hipster, dressed in a mesh hat and flannel shirt.

I was there in search of an ATM and found one in a liquor store. The last time I encountered one of these in a mall was in Canada. Aren't there laws against this sort of thing? It was crowded, standing room only, and clogged with a grey cloud. Elderly women chain-smoked as they stared at a line of poker machines. The one behind the counter, dressed in a pink tank top with a Pal Mal in her mouth, had the stare of a warden on a cellblock.

These ladies were deriving no joy from gambling. They looked and acted like they were working on an assembly line; their job plugging quarters into these ancient games. The ATM dated back to the '70s and shat out the cash in a murky little tube. I was not welcome there and left quickly.

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