We had high hopes for Saturday morning. The Zoo or something equally ambitious. Instead, all of a sudden it was 10:30 am, some of us were still in our pajamas playing Solitaire on Boy's Christmas present (I can stop at any time. I do not have an addiction.) and we settled for a family trip to Costco.
Girl lobbied to stay home so she could feed her addiction to Candy Crush (clearly, poor genes).
We pulled into the parking lot, pleasantly surprised to find the Mall in normal operating status as opposed to I-STILL-NEED-CHRISTMAS-PRESENTS-GET-OUTTA-MY-WAY mass rudeitude. There were actual open spaces. However, as we approached the doors on foot, we noticed a fire truck parked outside of Panera and black smoke coming out from some mall structure. Normally, not a good sign. We were unable to pinpoint the location of the smoke, aside from "not near Costco" and "over there yon." No one seemed to be alarmed. No one was running out screaming or anything. Although, I did note that at the other 2 entrances we could see across the parking lot had small masses of people outside them. Of course, we just walked right in.
Inside, there were alarms blaring but, again, no one seemed to notice. People were enjoying their lunches in Chipotle and the Costco food court merrily. Outside of Costco, I ran into a mom from school and we casually chatted wondering about how worried we should be about the fire. I felt a tad uneasy, imagining scenarios of being trapped in a Costco ablaze with flames with burning rafters falling from the warehouse ceiling, however, NO ONE WAS ALARMED. I trusted that if there really was a threat, we would not be able to waltz right in to our certain deaths. I realize this is probably flawed logic to rely on the people who run this particular mall outfit.
We were shopping inside for about 10 minutes when I happened to look towards the entranceway we had come through and saw that they pulled the the door down and weren't letting people in anymore. Er, trapping us to our deaths! I informed The Husband who was clearly much less worried than me, and he suggested I take the kids out first while he finished. This seemed like a fine idea. Women and children! Evacuate the area!
I dragged the three across the warehouse, happy to find that the exit doors were open allowing us to walk out into the Mall. Most of the Mall was empty, Chipotle had closed down and evacuated, and we joined the stream of people casually exiting Costco. There was a large herd of people who were outside of the Mall exit, not allowed to enter the building. We joined them and I found a seat on a nice flatbed cart (the kind that you get at Costco when the massive double-wide Costco shopping cart won't do) to wait for The Husband, ready to text him if I assessed the situation to require immediate abandonment of our mega foodstuffs haul. The kids immediately domineered a train of 3 flatbed carts right behind me, standing on them and trying to roll the thing back and forth with their body weight.
I sensed that the fire was in decent control as a) no more black smoke; b) another fire truck came in but without the sirens or anything, casually coming through to provide moral support or something. My kids, though, created quite a scene with their flatbed cart play. They were joined by 2 sisters, around Girl's age, and all engineered a fun game of maneuvering the flatbed train at slow speeds to and fro with their rocking and slow-velocity pushes. Neighboring kids in the crowd looked on with longing and delight. Girl was in prime form, directing the train, assigning "rooms" along with the other older girl. This is 8, I thought, watching her engage in such imaginative play and directing the smaller kids. They all had a blast.
Soon, The Husband rolled out with his full cart. He noted that the cashiers seemed to be a little more pressed to get people out of there, and in their rush, made some ringing-up errors that he had to get fixed. Exit traffic was pretty horrid given that the whole Mall closed down. We passed so many cars trying to get in, though. Alas, they would find out soon enough their efforts were in vain.
All in all, a much more exciting outing than originally anticipated. Probably even more so than the zoo where most animals are sleeping anyway.