Back in the Day
When I started high school, our school corporation had an open campus policy. One of the cool things about this was that we could go off campus for lunch. There was a church that was within walking distance to the school. They did some kind of nifty outreach that involved lunch and games (I honestly never went, but I heard some cool things about it). Of course, upperclassmen could drive off to who-knows-where during their lunch hour. Since I was an underclassman when this policy was in place, I was limited in where I could go because I lacked the freedom that comes with a valid driver’s license. Fortunately, some merchants at Washington Square Mall had gone together and paid for a school bus to shuttle students to and from the mall every day.
Genius. Pure genius.
I’m pretty sure we kept some of their food court vendors in business. In the image above, you can see a wall in the background. There used to be a burger joint there. I ate there regularly. In fact, I was such a regular customer that they’d start making my order before I was even at the front of the line:
Student Special with cheese. Large Coke.
It was a cheeseburger and fries with a drink. I know. It’s not the best thing to eat on a regular basis. But it was affordable. And tasty. That wasn’t the only thing I ate, though. I also remember ordering the breadsticks and cheese dip from Noble Roman’s. I still love their breadsticks. So good.
After eating, we usually had some spare time before the bus would take us back to school. Being the non-gamer gamer that I was, my friend Matt K. and I would head over to the arcade and spend the rest of our time (and quarters) playing Cyberball. We were pretty good. In fact, I think we were unstoppable.
Many would try to beat us. Few (if any) could. I tried playing the game on my own a couple of times. I didn’t play nearly as well because the computer-controlled player didn’t do what I knew Matt would’ve done. It was like I was playing with a hand tied behind my back. Or something like that.
My How Things Have Changed
Our school’s campus closed after my Freshman year. While I didn’t like it at the time, I’m pretty sure it was the right decision.
Washington Square Mall has changed a lot since then, too. I can no longer get the student special with cheese and a large Coke because the burger joint is no longer there. Of course, I wouldn’t be able to get my “regular” anymore anyway because I’m no longer a student. But that’s not the point. It seems that a lot of stores that I remember visiting at Washington Square Mall have gone the way of the burger joint – they’re no longer there.
I think the last time I visited Washington Square was in 2008. My heart broke a little as I walked through the nearly empty hallways full of unoccupied storefronts. It was a ghost town; a shell of what it used to be.
A Lesson Here
I’m sure there’s a lesson here. Maybe it’s that seasons change. Or maybe it’s that I should’ve broadened my culinary horizons and had a salad every once in a while. Or maybe something about relying on high school students to keep you in business. Or maybe the lesson is that if I’d kept all those quarters I’d fed that video game I’d probably be able to buy my own Cyberball machine by now.
I don’t know, but I’m sure there’s something could learn from it.
What do you think?