JERK OF THE WEEK: Walter Goes to Harrisburg, Part 1
If you've never heard of Harrisburg, I don't blame you. Hell, I'd like to congratulate you. Harrisburg, for those of you who live outside of Pennsylvania, happens to be the state's capital. I'm not sure why Harrisburg was chosen, but perhaps it's because it's about halfway between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. That, or some egomaniacal a**hole named Harris decided that he needed to be more important than everyone else, so he built a city and named it after himself, and then, if that wasn't enough, he made it the capital of Pennsylvania. Actually, now that I think about it, I think I recall learning this in my fifth-grade geography class.
Prior to the weekend before Christmas, I had only been in Harrisburg as a passerby. Driving from Philadelphia to Penn State involves going through Harrisburg. I was also stranded at a Harrisburg bus station once when my bus from Penn State to Philadelphia broke down. I was there for three hours with no money to buy food or beverages, and I was nearly molested in the bathroom by a strange-looking individual. I was taking the bus at that point because I hadn't obtained by driver's license yet - I was too lethargic to do so - but that experience provided a swift kick in the a** in that regard. Weeks later, I was finally a legal driver.
That all changed a couple of weekends ago, and it all started on a preceding Tuesday when my fiancee asked me if I wanted to make an overnight trip to Harrisburg with her; she had to get her official real-estate license, and we'd meet up with her brother Jimmy, who lives in Pittsburgh and wouldn't be able to make it home for Christmas.
Me: Harrisburg... but... molested in bathroom... I'll pass...
Fiancee: Come on, Walt! It'll be fun!
Me: Harrisburg? Fun? Ha!
I eventually changed my mind. A weekend trip with my fiancee amid a crazy football season sounded nice, and Jimmy is a good friend of mine I hadn't seen in quite a while. Plus, there was very little chance I'd be molested in the bathroom of our hotel room. At least that's what I thought when reminding myself that I'm a man and I need to be brave.
Anyway, our trip up to Harrisburg was uneventful. It took about two hours, but we reached the state capital without any issues. Our first order of business was getting my fiancee's real-estate license at some sort of government building, which we eventually found after driving around some neighborhoods. One of these neighborhoods had a bunch of houses overlooking the Susquehanna River.
Fiancee: Wouldn't it be nice to live in one of these houses and have a view of the river?
Me: No! These houses are falling apart!
I wasn't exaggerating, as the houses were very old and seemed on the verge of collapsing. It only got worse as we approached the government building, as the homes around there were effectively shacks that appeared as though they'd blow away in mild gusts. My fiancee must have noticed the disgusted expression on my face.
"I guess it wouldn't be nice to live here," she admitted. "Harrisburg is bankrupt, after all."
Of course, it is! Most big cities are, especially those consumed by government corruption. It's a shame that Harrisburg natives have to live in these sorts of houses, knowing full well that if a wolf shows up demanding three little piggies, he can simply blow their house down. But hey, at least they get a view of a polluted river, so that's nice!
My fiancee went into the government building to retrieve her license. I whipped out my laptop, expecting to wait an hour or more. To my surprise, she returned 15 minutes later.
"Look at my fancy real-estate license!" she said sarcastically. She handed it to me, and it was basically just an index card with her real-estate license number on it. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, given that Harrisburgh is bankrupt. Hell, I'm mildly shocked that the city could even afford index cards!
Jimmy was arriving around 9-10 because he had to work that day, so my fiancee and I had a lot of time to kill. Upon reaching our hotel - there were no molesters in the bathroom; I checked - we let our phones charge a bit, and then she looked up things to do in Harrisburg.
"There's a Target!" she exclaimed. "We can go to Target!"
Really, Harrisburg? Is that all you have?
Fiancee: Oh, there's a Harrisburg Mall! Want to check it out?
Me: Is it any good? Do they have cool stores?
Fiancee: Umm... there's a Bass Pro Shops... and a Victoria's Secret... and some store called 2nd & Charles.
Me: Isn't that a property on the Monopoly board game?
My fiancee ignored my clever quip and looked up reviews for the Harrisburg Mall. She read the following to me:
"This mall, like so many in suburban America, shows its age. Again, like most of the country's shopping malls, Harrisburg mall smacks of the 1980s-1990s era in which they experienced their heyday. Since then, the ability to rent out storefronts has become harder (sometimes impossible), and the appearance of patchwork remodeling leaves you wondering what these monuments to consumerism will be like in another 10-20 years."
This piece-of-s*** review was written by someone named Andy Newhall, a douchebag hellbent on using snarky catchphrases like "monuments to consumerism" to make himself sound smarter than he really is. This guy is so pretentious that he probably loves the smell of his own farts so much that he carries a bottle around to catch his farts, which he then smells while drinking a wine he let breathe for 20 days. F*** you, Andy Newhall.
I looked up some other reviews, and they were pretty depressing:
"Yikes! This mall is horrible. We were walking out of Pay Less and a bunch of people were saying horrible curse words to each other. You would think it would be a nice mall, I mean it's kind of a nice mall but, this mall gets a horrible feeling when you come here. I feel bad for saying this but it's the truth." - Alexandra A.
Oh no, not horrible curse words! Question, Alexandra? Which curse words are horrible, and which are not horrible? Is s*** not horrible, but c**t horrible? Can you please provide us a review of this?
Here's another review for the Harrisburg Mall:
"Poor quality customer service and cheating associates, who charge wrongly. Customer care service rude and unprofessional. The 800 number never works and on line emails to contact customer service are always blocked and show error message. Very disappointed with Macy's customer service associates. On line chat equally hopeless. Once you get the Macy's card they keep charging you even for disputed charges and they suck you, and you can not cancel your Macy's credit card on line or by telephone. They need to be sued by lawyers for cheating customers." - Suzy J.
Hmm, well, I'm quite surprised by this because I never thought lawyers actually sued people, but rather, people hired lawyers to sue others. But maybe I just don't know anything. Still, the "cheating associates" comment is quite unnerving. I suddenly imagined myself entering Macy's, buying a pair of shoes, and when I hand over a $100 bill to pay for $49.99 sneakers, the cashier gives me back $5 instead of $50. No, wait, that's stupid. I don't buy shoes.
Oh, and by the way, who uses an online chat to communicate with a mall? I imagine Suzy J. is some sort of crazy cat lady who wants lawyers to sue her cats for pooping and peeing outside of their litter boxes.
"This is possibly the 3rd worst mall I've been to. First being the Cressona Mall in Frackville, PA. Look it up. Its depressing. I went to a movie here once, and I had to use the bathroom once. I don't foresee myself ever returning for any other reason. You can get the same things at other places, and have a better experience. Please, turn this thing into housing or a good school or something that Harrisburg really needs."
I suddenly have the urge to go to Cressona Mall in Frackville, Pa. What the frack is in Frackville, Pa.?
But wait, what's this about a bathroom? What's wrong with the bathrooms at the mall? Did someone molest you there too, and if so, was it one of the cheating associates? Quick, someone call the lawyers so they can sue these molesting, cheating associates!
I expected the worst as we drove up to the Harrisburg Mall, which is located on Bass Pro Shop Drive. I wish I were making this up.
We parked in the 2nd & Charles lot, and I was still eager to learn what exactly was in this store. It sounded like something fancy, so perhaps a suit shop? We entered, and HOLY CRAP!
I'm not lying or being sarcastic when I say this, but 2nd & Charles might be my favorite store of all time. How can I describe it briefly? Hmm... well, imagine a Barnes & Noble, and now imagine if instead of books, that store had video games, comics and anything relating to movies and TV shows.
This 2nd & Charles store was huge, and it was built exactly like a Barnes & Noble, but they had various video games, comics and trading cards on their shelves. And not just new video games; they had old Nintendo and Super Nintendo cartridges for sale as well. In one of the display cases was a Super Nintendo that they were selling for $40. I almost splooged all over the glass!
I was entranced. I spent about an hour walking around 2nd & Charles. In fact, my fiancee got so tired of waiting that she sat down on one of the chairs, looking like a typical man does while getting his soul sucked out of him at a shoe store.
I ended up buying some sort of console that plays Nintendo, Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis cartridges. I'm going to try it out once the season is over, and I'll let you know how it works. I'm so eager to play it that I just splooged again!
Anyway, my fiancee were about to enter the actual mall when something caught my eye. It was a figurine from one of the Final Fantasy games. You know, the good ones, on the original Playstation? Anyway, I was disappointed to see that it was from Final Fantasy VIII and not Final Fantasy VII.
"Ahh, that sucks," I said.
"Yeah, it does," said a voice behind me. I turned around, and it was a skinny, sickly looking store employee with red hair and unkempt facial hair. He looked like someone who had never spoken to a woman in his life.
Sickly Store Employee: You'd think that in a hundred years, humankind would've built a weapon to combat the titans.
Sickly Store Employee: They had 100 years to design the perfect weapon to beat the titans, but all they could use was the weapons from our age to beat the titans. Do you expect machine guns to take down the titans? I think not!
Sickly Store Employee: If I were one of the titan-fighters, I would have spent my intelligence points figuring out how to build new weaponry to destroy the titans. I would be humanity's last hope, unlike the actual characters, who can't beat the titans because they don't have the appropriate weaponry!
I had absolutely no idea what this guy was talking about. No clue. And yet, he was super passionate about it. He seemed super pissed that humanity couldn't design the appropriate weapons to beat some sort of titans.
My fiancee and I stood there for 10 minutes, nodding our heads, pretending to understand what this strange individual was talking about. My fiancee kept responding, "Haha, yeah, but we have to..." but before she could say "go," he'd go on another rant. I finally decided to say something to help get us out of this.
Me: Well, you can find plot holes in anything, really.
Sickly Store Employee: Yeah...
We did it! We finally ended the conversa...
Sickly Store Employee: Yeah, no. I can think of at least eight magnas and games that don't have plot holes. For example...
This guy listed all eight. I can't remember what they were because I had never heard of any of them. My fiancee and I spent what seemed like hours listening to this guy talk, and we couldn't break free from the conversation.
And then, finally, another employee approached him and said they needed help up front. Thank. F***ing. God.
"We'll continue this conversation the next time you're in here," he said.
Uhh... no we won't. Because we don't live in your god-forsaken, bankrupt city, so we won't be seeing you again.
As we entered the common mall area, I suddenly realized what Suzy J. meant by "cheating associates." This man cheated me out of an hour of my life, and I demand that I have it returned to me. Hopefully the lawyers sue him for doing this. Maybe they'll have a great case if I tell him that he's the one who tried to molest me in the bathroom.
I have lots more to write about my trip to Harrisburg, so stay tuned next week for Part 2 of Walter Goes to Harrisburg!