Funny Stuff We Found at the Mall, or The Power of Nice

By Piper Bayard

In early March, 85-yr-old Marilyn Hagerty was plucked from obscurity and catapulted to internet fame. Why? She was nice. Being nice should not be so remarkable, but she was nice about a restaurant that is commonly panned by “food experts” as being unremarkable. The Olive Garden.

Ms. Hagerty writes for her local paper, the Grand Forks Herald in Grand Forks, North Dakota, and Grand Forks just got an Olive Garden. Ms. Hagerty wrote the review. (Long-awaited Olive Garden receives warm welcome)

As a small town girl myself, I remember what a big deal it was to get a McDonald’s. An Olive Garden? Wow! Go ahead and laugh, but I know exactly why Ms. Hagerty was struck by the warmth of the ambiance and the variety of the menu. I understand why she wrote, “The place is impressive,” and, “All in all, it is the largest and most beautiful restaurant now operating in Grand Forks.”

Snarky food reviewers found Ms. Hagerty’s review to be provincial, and they started passing it around. Then, it went viral. Not because it was silly in any way, but because people responded to Ms. Hagerty’s sincere good will and complete lack of pretension.

The New York Times heard about Ms. Hagerty and flew her to New York City to review some fancy restaurants for them. Check out this positively darling woman’s journey here. The Eatbeat with Marilyn Hagerty

Since going viral on the internet is the only kind of viral I want to be infected with, I decided to write a review of my local mall to see if being nice would have the same effect for me that it did for Ms. Hagerty. Since my darling daughter, DD, and I had such fun finding things at Walgreens, I once more recruited her away from her books and her engineering interests to be my model. . . .

Once inside our first store, which is geared toward juniors, I am immediately taken back to my high school days by the pungent fragrance that calls to mind warm memories of sweaty socks in the girl’s locker room and the odor of fear that permeated the waiting area outside the principal’s office.

Even more comforting, my Southern blood delights to discover that the styles and fabrics draw from one of my favorite movies, Gone with the Wind, as a tribute to the impoverished Scarlett’s resourcefulness in using curtains for her gown. I could swear these expensive dresses were made from the beautiful printed flour sacks that Granny so carefully crafted into curtains for her kitchen windows, and they came  in three summer colors!

Who’d have thought we would find this kind of nostalgia in such a modern store? *deep sigh*

As we walk through the massive tribute to consumerism that is the Mall, we discover we can find everything we would ever need. I mean, a girl never knows when she will need a Wonder Woman bikini, right?

We find shoes, too, and even they make great use of Granny’s curtains, especially the one in the center.

And just in case we’re abducted by aliens and come back thinking we’re Tijuana hookers. . . .

All of this shopping makes us hungry, and we are not disappointed! The crowded ambience of the food court does nothing to detract from the classy generosity of the people around us. Why, someone even leaves us samples at our table.

All in all, our local mall is the biggest, most beautiful shopping center in our county.

Only one thing, though. You’d think with all of these clothes around, the models would find something to wear.

We tried.

What fun things do you find at your mall? When has being nice brought you unexpected returns?

All the best to all of you for finding something good in everything you see.