A Flash of Perspective: Mall of America Scare12:47:00 PM
December 26th is one of the biggest shopping days of the year. And while I'm visiting Minnesota of course I'm going to spend this day at my beloved Mall of America. Today, I went with my best friend, Britnie. Britnie and I are known for spending hours upon hours at MOA. We're power shoppers. We know what we like. We know what each other likes. We have developed the stamina to shop until the mall closes.... but not today.
The Mall of America was CRAZY busy today. After 1-2 hours of shopping, we stopped at the Noodles and Company near the food court. Not more than 2 minutes after we ordered and sat down, I saw a few teenagers run past the store. "Oh, they just stole something," I thought. Within seconds, another 20 or so people sprinted past us. "Sweet, maybe the mall organized a flash mob?" Then the screaming started. It got louder. I watched from inside Noodles as people stopped, looked left, and started sprinting in the opposite direction. We could not see what they saw from our position in the store. Suddenly a frazzled, out-of-breath woman who looked about 50 ran into the store and exclaimed, "There's a shooter! I heard bang bang bang!"
I looked at my best friend sitting across the table from me. In 1 second, so much ran through our minds. We immediately got up and ran into the back kitchen of the store. Soon, every customer flooded into the kitchen. Britnie and I hid inside the walk-in freezer and shut the door, as if we expected a shooter to come into the kitchen. The store manager closed the storefront gate and locked the door. Britnie and I decided to get out of the freezer. All of the customers in the kitchen turned and stared as we emerged from the freezer, not realizing we had been hiding there. Everyone talked quietly, speculating, and sharing what they saw. The store phone rang several times, and no one answered it, so I did. It was just a customer who sounded pissed off. I apologized and explained that I didn't work at the store and I had no idea where the manager was, but that I would take a message. She got more pissed and started asking questions, so I "accidently" hung up. Oops.
The next thing we know, everyone started to file out of the kitchen. We heard customers saying, "It was a drill!" and "false alarm!" but there was no confirmation that we were safe. Within minutes, people were enjoying their noodles as if nothing had happened. It felt like a bad dream. What just happened? Was that real?
Britnie and I did not feel good about staying at the mall, especially not knowing if the coast was clear. We gathered our things. On the way out we asked Mall Security what had happened. He told us that a fight broke out and that a shopper saw a firearm involved. Nothing was confirmed, and we are still not sure what happened. All I know is that this event brought me perspective. Always trust your gut. Never leave relationships untied. Keep praying for the families of the CT school shooting and the Colorado movie theater shooting. Cherish your best friends; they really are your family. Always know where your heart stands, in case your life is suddenly taken.
When I got home tonight I got a text from Britnie that said,"Never a dull moment, but if something did happen at least we'd be with someone we love." That is truly a best friend.. a soul sister. I thank God nothing bad happened.