>Until I was old enough to get a real job, I relied on babysitting to generate some cash flow, but it wasn't my preferred way to earn dough for my mall excursions. In much the same way I looked forward to putting my charges to bed so I could be free to watch TV or talk on the phone, I was eager to get a real job and start contributing to Social Security so I could retire. Even before my first job, I knew that working sucked.

A few months before I turned 16, I registered with the Village of Wilmette's youth employment program, WilWork. (And now that I write that, it makes me think of the propagandistic names for welfare-to-work programs, which is creeping me out, but I digress.) One of the employment notices WilWork sent me (through snail mail! Man, them's days were primitive...) was for an office worker at Chiron Publications, a Jungian psychology publishing company. It paid slightly above minimum wage, was right off the public bus line that went by my high school, and seemed like a far more interesting opportunity than working at a fast food joint - or babysitting. I called immediately to set up an interview.

Long story already too long, I got the job. My duties were too process orders for their various bizarre-o titles, type up invoices in triplicate (seriously!), package the books, and send them to the buyers. Many of these orders came from a bookstore located in the King of Prussia Mall in Pennsylvania. This was one of the largest malls in the country, and I became fascinated with it. "Some day," I thought to myself gazing out of the office window at the el station across the street, "I shall visit this mall, and see what riches it offers."

Years passed. When I became friends with Steph in college, who originated in PA, I learned that the King of Prussia Mall was every bit as fantastical as I imagined. Yet I still did not visit. Until today, when Husband and I are taking Fred the Red, our PT Cruiser, and motoring out to meet Steph in the Promised Land. She said we will eat in various food courts and gaze upon wondrous quantities of merchandise. It'll be a dream come true.