New: Going To The Atrocious New Strip Mall In Concord

Jack Bragen
Wednesday December 06, 2017 - 10:48:00 AM

In the past ten years, I have witnessed the disappearance of benches in public places. I have also seen the disappearance of bookstores. Of course, payphones are long gone, and a young person might not recognize one if they saw one. 

In Concord, California, a town that probably never had a reputation for being tasteful, there is now something even worse. It is a monstrosity of a strip mall. Parts are still being constructed, and parts are open and doing business. 

I had occasion to go there because Cost Plus has moved into there, and I wanted to do some Hanukah shopping with my wife. The newer version of Cost Plus had disturbing, very bad music blaring. The employees may have been temp workers--I didn't recognize any of them. 

I had to get out of there because I couldn't handle that environment. I told my wife that I was going to go sit in the car. I got in the passenger seat of the car, (because at the time, my wife was the designated driver) and I began to smoke a cigarette. (I admit it; I'm dumb enough to smoke. When I was twenty-five, I put one in my mouth, assuming I would be able to quit.) 

Then I noticed that a security vehicle was present. The damn thing kept circling, and I wondered if they had their crosshairs of surveillance and harassment on me. I decided I was going to remain in the car, and not tempt security by trying to stand outside or walk around or anything. 

The vehicles that bordered me in the parking lot were either monstrous new trucks, Audi sedans, or other new and expensive cars that made me look poor in my nine-year-old, immaculate Camry. (Actually, I am poor and could not pay for my car myself.) 

People's headlights were so bright. People seemed oblivious to the stress of the situation that seemed to me to be intrinsic. I was becoming agitated. The security vehicle kept circling. The Cost Plus was supposed to close at nine, and people were leaving. My wife and her dog finally emerged from the store. 

The architecture of the new strip mall makes the buildings look very big, very modern, and to me, are clones of all of the other new buildings that are popping up everywhere, that are devoid of character, that bespeak forbiddance of mind and the total absence of imagination. And, of course, not a single bench was anywhere to be seen, and there was no bookstore. Of course; they don't exist anymore. 

The pricing and products at the Cost Plus were good, as they had been in the previous location. The Hanukah gifts, really a gesture, could be afforded on my and my wife's budget. (For the past several years, the theme is food.) However, I left with the insecure feeling that I am decreasingly adapted to the world--and wondering: is this really where we are headed? 

Jack Bragen's newest book is titled, "Understanding People with Schizophrenia," and is available on Amazon.