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You Just Never Know

My youngest son who is 15 has a function to go to, a Sweet 16. We headed across the river to the Palisades Mall to go shopping for a nice suit for him that was age appropriate and stylish. We shopped, had a snack, spontaneously took in a movie and shopped some more. We were there for hours and only accomplished a few pieces of the outfit before finally finding the “it” suit. Of course, it was on a manikin and no one was around to help me find out what the name brand was.

I was starving, my son was starving and he was ready to call it a day not caring too much that the rest of my week had no more time allowed for shopping, so I lifted up the manikin searching for tags to describe the suit and then to search through the racks and racks of clothing to find the right label that matched. However, after only a minute of searching I came upon the dream pair of pants. Score! “Let’s go!” I said. We walked over to the cashier who was not there, but another man who was helping someone else and he said someone would be with us shortly. I was not going to make eye contact with my son. a few more minutes went by and the man repeated himself and I smiled and nodded again not making eye contact with my son.

Finally, a man in his late 20’s came to the register and apologized as he went around the counter. He was punching numbers into the register and then as he took the pants from me when a siren went off out in the mall and then there was a loud voice. The cashier was looking out to the mall, my son was looking out into the mall. I was waiting patiently for him to finish ringing me out. I’m a logical person so I’m thinking it could be any number of things. The cashier seemed to look panicky to me so I calmly asked him how much the pants were, not that it mattered since I would pay whatever was necessary at this point just to have a happy teenager.

He looked at me with a blank look. He reached for something around his neck, I realized it was MIC when he whispered into it that the mall warning system was going off. I wanted to tell him I think all of Nyack knows the alarm is going off. He then had a look as though he completely forgot what he was doing and almost as if he was contemplating bolting. I leaned over the counter and said, “Could you quickly finish the transaction?” I tried to sound humorous as I added, “I am not leaving here without those pants. Do you know what’s it’s like shopping with a 15-year-old boy?”

He told me how much, I paid, grabbed the bag and my son and headed out to the mall. As we were walking we were both listening intently to exactly what was being said in between the sirens that were blairing. The repetitive voice was saying, “Attention! Attention! For your safety, please proceed to the nearest emergency exit.” We were on the 3d level and I could see that down on the 2d level security officers were running as they were talking into to their radios. I could see mother’s running with their strollers. I was walking but at a fast pace, being calm for my son. If I panic, he will panic. If I am calm, he will be calm. As we were walking I listened for sounds, maybe gun shots, screams or glass breaking, anything that didn’t sound normal but I heard nothing.

We made our way very quickly down to the 1st level and out to the parking lot to the car without looking back. I was focused now on getting out of the parking lot as everyone else was trying to do the same thing.

I eventually got onto the Palisades Parkway and then I started to replay everything that just happened and remembered a few wks ago on the news there was a warning that terrorist groups were going to target major malls in this country. The Palisades Mall is one of the largest in the States with an average of 20,000 shoppers a day. I thought about all the crazy people in this world that have no regard for human life and actually enjoy going to malls and movie theaters to shoot innocent people. I thought about the shooting at the other mall not too far from this one recently.

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks that I actually put my son in danger. I took him into an open area to be a moving target.  I failed as a parent because in today’s world you just never know.  You hear about these things in other places, to other people. We all sadly have to be more aware of our surroundings than ever before. Looking back, I know the store we were in had their own escalator and I should have taken it to the 1st floor and exited through a fire exit out to the parking lot. I suppose there really is no right or wrong answer of what to do in a situation that can pose harm. And I am so very thankful that nothing happened to us or anyone else there. This was a huge learning experience for both my son and myself and we had a good conversation about it. We were enlightened into thinking what could possibly have happened and what we should do if something tragic should occur.

I still am unaware of why exactly the warning system was going off and in today’s world, you just never know.

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