Lining up in a mall doesn’t make sense

I’m all for social distancing, but I couldn’t figure out what the point was of having people line up outside of stores inside of the mall.

The food court at Westfield Garden State Plaza Mall on 9/5/2020

I had to make a run out to Westfield Garden State Plaza Mall in Paramus, NJ this weekend. I had to drop off a return at the Amazon Books store in the mall. It was something I ordered online but that just didn’t work out quite how I wanted it to and I figured I could kill two birds with one stone: drop off the return and then drive 5 minutes over to IKEA and pick up a few things I’ve been looking to get since pre-COVID.

I figured there would be people in the mall, especially on a holiday weekend, but the crowds were massive. It was so packed in the common areas that I often had to walk slowly behind people or veer wide around large groups. There were often bottlenecks caused by lines of people trying to get into stores next to kiosks. It was often shoulder to shoulder. Keeping people in lines outside of stores was actually increasing instances of close contact.

I’d never been inside that mall before. It’s almost ridiculously big. I don’t really like shopping in person anymore but I’m interested in going back, hopefully when it’s not as crowded. I guess it’s because of how empty the city has been recently, but I actually started to get agitated by the crowds. It became uncomfortable and I had to get out of there.

I never made it into the IKEA either. Earlier on this year when IKEA first opened up again, I remember reading about long, long lines of people waiting to get into IKEA stores. Months later, they’re still a thing. There must have been 250+ people waiting to get into IKEA and the store was scheduled to close an hour and 20 minutes later. Half of the people there waiting weren’t even going to make it in the door, so I just kept driving and went on home.

I keep wondering when things are going to get back to normal. Will it be right after the election? Will it be next year sometime? Never?

And does it really matter anymore? I’d like to go back to the museums, but I’m not going to give myself the headache of trying to prepurchase tickets at tourist rates for specified time-slots. Other than that and the lines at IKEA, my day-to-day hasn’t really changed that much. Though, thinking about it, it would be nice to sit down at a restaurant again too.

An Evening Walk Down Riverside Drive in Manhattan

View of the Hudson River from Riverbank State Park
View of the Hudson River from Riverbank State Park

I sort of let myself fall off the exercise wagon while struggling with other commitments, so now that Summer session classes are over, I’m taking August to try to get myself together. That involves a lot of sorting, organizing, shopping, bill paying, appointment scheduling, and, of course, getting myself back into shape. I’m not going to be a hero and try to go from barely being active for two and a half months to dropping 5ks like they’re nothing, so I’m starting out with long walks first. This is definitely a great neighborhood for it, both in terms of scenery and because the area is hilly, rather than flat, making walks more physically challenging.

We walked down Riverside Drive from about 168th Street, where Columbia University Medical Center is and eventually wound up in Riverbank State Park, which is the nicest park I’ve seen in New York City, other than Central Park. The facilities are probably better than those at Central Park, though, since they’re newer. We saw an Olympic-sized running oval, a skating rink, and somewhere in that park there’s also a pool. We’re looking forward to going back and spending some time there. I bet that oval makes for good running, that’s easy on the knees.

Classes start again at the end of the month, so hopefully I can make the most out of my time!