Commerce, Red in Tooth and Claw and Handbag

24 Jun

Recently I’ve been trawling various local shopping centres looking for jobs, and I’ve noticed how infuriating it is for an individual to navigate a mall without being accosted by the various pricks who spend most of their time there. Seeing as I’m beginning to recognise the most common archetypes, I’ve decided to compile a small series of biological field notes in the style of certain irritating travel magazines for rich people. You know, the ones that have platinum-blonde Trustafarian airport-rats smeared all over the cover, staring down smugly at you to remind you that they are pointlessly wealthy and you are not. Fuckers. Without further stalling, I give you:

The Top Five Dangerous Commercial Fauna (Mall Edition)
by Connor Smarm

The plastic jungle that is the modern shopping centre holds many dangers and has no shortage of ravenous predators, eager to feast on unwitting explorers. To give you a chance of surviving, Blonde Bast Travel Magazine has a few tips on how to identify and protect yourself against five of the most deadly creatures you’re likely to encounter in the malls of the United Kingdom.

5 – Geriatricum velocitus, the Mobility Pensioner
This apex predator skulks around malls across the country, crawling slowly through the commercial wastes in search of prey. This cunning behaviour disguises its true celerity – when the Mobility Pensioner spies a worthy target, it quickly reacts and runs its prey over with a burst of murderous speed. Prey animals have little or no time to defend themselves from this unusual assault, but the constant whiiiiiine of the Pensioner’s conveyance makes it easy to avoid. They’re deadly even at range, however, and can spit a stream of liquid vitriol with pinpoint accuracy from fifteen metres. Fortunately, as dangerous as the Pensioner is, they despise each other’s company and tend to travel alone, or in groups of not more than three (referred to as shambles). The Pensioner has many weaknesses, but particularly despises Heat magazine and shies away from the burning touch of the periodical, so be sure to keep a copy on you in times of possible danger.

4 – Charverii myrmidius magnus, the Greater Charver Swarm
The typical Charver Swarm averages three to six individuals and is usually harmless, if a little intimidating, and easily ignored. Recently, however, truly monstrous packs of up to twenty drooling, venomous morons have been spotted. The Greater Charver Swarm moves quickly through the mall’s most populous areas and is commonly seen around food courts, cinemas, and branches of Soccer Sports. Consuming anything it passes, the Swarm is one of the mall’s most awe-inspiring predators, and has been known to drive off multiple Mobility Pensioners and countless bands of Indie Cindies with little effort. Their collective consciousness, however, spreads their already limited intellect over a wide area, which makes them easy to trick and avoid. A popular method of deterrence is to lead the Swarm into the path of a roving herd of Dire Goths – usually both creatures cancel each other out.

3 – Cynthia indica, the Indie Cindy
Squads of Indie Cindies are easily spotted from their bright stockings, luminous LiveStrong bands and multicoloured hair. Hair colour seems to indicate status in Cindy society – the alpha female usually sports the colour pink somewhere in her bouffant, while betas are blonde and omegas run the gamut from black to (in some truly bizarre cases) undyed. Largely herbivorous for reasons of weight and style, the Indie Cindy is a loud and superficially gregarious creature, which announces its presence to all and sundry with its banal chatter and constant mating cries of ‘Omigod. Omigod.’ True to form, though, colourful animals are usually poisonous, and the Cindy is no different – they use their sharp tongues and aptitude for scorn to deliver a payload of venom strong enough to make a fully-grown Flash Harry skulk away, licking his wounds. Truly unlucky explorers may run into up to ten of these creatures at once, in an inseparable social clan (or scene). They’re mostly peaceable and docile animals, though, and they have their weaknesses: Indie Cindies are easily hypnotized by flannel shirts and half-fringes, and will stand around giggling to themselves long enough to allow hassled explorers to make good their escape.

2 – Maternum perambulus, the Pram Mam
One of the most frustrating aspects of the art of modern mall exploration is the difficulty of moving quickly due to obstacles, both topographical and biological. The queen of biological obstacles is the slow-moving and slow-witted Pram Mam. They’re irritating individually, but the full extent of their psychological lethality only becomes apparent when they gather in large groups. Pram Mams tend to travel in horizontal lines to facilitate the flow of communication, and they’re usually far too mired in both the current conversation and their own self-righteousness to notice anything as irrelevant as, say, another large crowd of people. Sizeable collections (or covens) of Pram Mams can cause utter havoc in busy centres, when whole corridors can be blocked, and customer flow disrupted irrevocably. The Pram Mam’s insipid egotism and sanctimoniousness protects her from all criticism – she’s got a baby with her, she shouldn’t have to get out of the way of anyone else, they’re in her way, she’s continuing the species, for God’s sake, what exactly have you done this morning, did you carry a baby around for nine months with no reward, did you, hmmm? Didn’t think so. It’s unfortunate that, like a rogue weather system, the Pram Mam’s passing has to be simply ridden out, tolerated until they all catch the same bus home, leaving the people of the mall with freedom to move (and blocking the entire front aisle of the 602, to the endless irritation of bus commuters). Occasionally, though, the one creature that has any authority over Pram Mams appears from nowhere to bully the entire coven into moving. Seeing as these creatures are a natural agglomeration of Pram Mams (and Dads, and Kids), they can be infinitely more irritating and dangerous than even the most vicious coven…

1 – Grater familias, the Family Out Shopping
These deviant blobs of inhumanity are among the most dangerous predators in the world of retail exploration. Consisting of sanctimonious and grating Mams, aggressive and swaggering Dads, and any number of infuriating, screaming, noisy Kids, the Family Out Shopping presents an immediate problem to the lone explorer. The Family will not get out of your way. The Family will take up the whole aisle and stop you from getting anywhere. The Family will completely ignore your presence unless you come within two feet of any one member, in which case you may be subjected to anything from a dirty look to an obnoxious rebuke concerning your proximity, speed, appearance, sexuality or specific purpose in the universe. The source of the Family’s aggression lies in each member’s deep-seated hatred for one other – the Mam just wants to look at some clothes for a while, not for ages, maybe just for six hours, but she knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Dad will flatly refuse to spend his money on her unnecessary potential purchase of a ninety-eighth pair of high heels, despite the fact that she has plenty of her own money. The Mam, therefore, is responsible for the ‘snappy and sulky’ persona in the Family. The Dad’s boundless and petty anger stems from a great many circumstances: he’s just come from work, the place is packed, it’s too hot, people are really weird these days, the kids are hyperactive, the wife keeps dragging him into clothes shops and trying to prise his wallet from his vice-like grip, he’s hungry, he’s tired, the football’s on – any of these distinct variables can build up to transform the Dad into a stomping, steaming, blood-red conduit of rage, ensuring that the ‘angry and self-righteous’ part of the Family’s mandate is taken care of. Finally, as many as six Kids will be present, and may be in various moods according to their own unpredictable whims – they can be angry, sullen, overexcited, hungry, attention-seeking or simply immature, but whatever the mood, you can rest assured that all of them will be making an ear-splitting and deeply aggravating noise whilst revolving uncontrollably around their parents like retarded electrons. One of the most pertinent clues as to what a Family will do next lies in geography: the Mam will alternate from power-walking past shops she doesn’t find interesting to standing stock-still at the window of some fashion boutique and hanging around until forced to leave, either by the Dad’s impatience or by the sudden disappearance of one of the Kids. The Dad will mainly stay in the middle of the group, having reverted to his sullen childhood self, consigned to following the woman he’s affiliated with for hours on end and feeling pretty damn sorry for himself in the process. However, he may linger for up to half an hour outside the window of a travel agent or hardware store, and cannot ordinarily be shifted by anything less than earth-moving equipment. It’s the Kids, however, that are the most unpredictable in this regard, and it is generally them that will give you the most trouble on your journey. Being Kids, they are motivated completely by their own needs and, if not constantly watched, will wander around through the sea of legs going wherever the hell they feel like without watching where they’re walking. Often, as you’re being carried to your destination by a strong current of consumers, a wayward Kid will wander directly into your path at a random angle and may even stop, perhaps because they’ve come across an invisible castle guarded by a dragon, or perhaps because they simply wanted to stand and stare at the ceiling for a bit. In any case, you can’t travel to either side to dodge the Kid, because the rest of the Family is blocking the aisle. You can’t ask the Kid to get out of the way, because it is a Kid, and will either ignore you or attempt to gnaw one of your legs off. You certainly can’t go anywhere near the child for fear of attack by raging, overprotective parents, and contrary to your most fervent wishes, you cannot simply take a shotgun and kill them all due to several irksome legal constraints. The only real way to combat a Family Out Shopping is to bring your own older, more experienced family to the mall to protect you, although if you perform this strategy too many times, your status as a free agent will be erased, and you will be dragged inexorably into the bounds of a new, hellish Family Out Shopping. Any explorer who finds himself in this situation should bite down on one of our new deluxe Sui-Caps immediately (details and pricing on page 193).


One Response to “Commerce, Red in Tooth and Claw and Handbag”


  1. Oh, Internet. « Laubrau’s Weblog - November 30, 2010

    […] hate working Saturday shifts. The malls are filled with countless cases of Maternum perambulus, or Charverii myrmidius magnus. Sundays are fine, because they are mostly just filled with Angry Customers, but I don’t know […]

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