I seated myself in a booth with my back faced to the wall. It was here that I had an ominous view of the Galleria food court. With pencil in hand, and notebook ready, I began taking notes on the many observations I noticed in the three hour window that I sat and “people watched”. Nothing particular stuck out at me at first, I gazed around, from table to table, and only noticed the general routines you would expect to find at any mall food court.
Employee’s meeting on their lunch breaks, stay at home mom’s getting a quick bite at chik-fil-a as they drag their children along to the next errand, and the elderly in no hurry to get anywhere specific. It was the same mundane routine through the course of the first hour, it only being four in the afternoon, many kids were still in school, and adults at work. The mall was close to barren as a few moms strolled around leisurely, baby’s at hip, or teetering along side of them. Many of these moms were white, caucasions, displaying their obvious means of wealth in the jewlrey that they wore, and the handbags they carried.
Two mothers sat infront of me as I observed the food court, while casually picking at their grilled chicken salads in front of them, and their children ran wild in the play place that was within eye sight. They didn’t speak to anyone who passed by, nor did they bother themselves with helping another lady who was in an clear pannick after finding out that her son was no longer by her side and had ventured off sometime when she was ordering lunch. They kept to themselves, immersed in their own gossip, only rising to coo their children after having a wipe out on the kiddy slide.
As 5 o’clock crept up, I began to notice a shift in the general audience. Many teenagers began appearing as their parent’s dropped them off front, and the upperclassmen drove. They arrived in packs, loud, and obnoxious to everyone else in ear shot. Profanitites were not in short when they arrived, and sexual innuendos were sure to follow. Many African American teenage boys seemed to occupy a corner section of the food court where they stood, pants sagging, and chest proud pumped with a sense of entitlement they felt over there territory.
The girls would stay a fair distance, but keep their glances fixed on the table of boys, going out of their way to gain their attention by laughing too loudly at a joke that wasn’t funny, or busting a move to their favorite song blaring from their iphones. None of the girls however were bold enough to directly approach the boys off to the corner, they would make plenty of excuses to walk toward them, but they never made direct contact with them. Families were less inclined to approach this area, and began to disperse throughout other areas in the mall.
I also noticed the presence of security guards hired to monitor the crowds that were present later in the evening. This form of interaction continued on for an hour or so, until the police officers came and directed them away from their corners and urging them into the crowd and away from their area. To my surprise, an hour later, the same groups were back During the dinner time rush, many of the tables began to fill up, and at about 6:30 there were no clear tables. Often I saw that only one person was occupying a table that could potentially seat 6, but no one was willing to sit down where there was room.
I noticed that many people stood around waiting for a table to open up, or they would hover naggingly around a table until its occupiers finally gave in, and relinquished the table. When it came it couples walking around, very rarely did I see interacial couples together. People stuck primarily to race, the whites walked hand in hand with whites, and blacks walked hand in hand with blacks. This is something that I still don’t understand, why is color so important when it comes to relationships? Why does race have to define the type of relationships we seek?