I'd never been to the mall at midnight until last night. Only one of the four or five doors at the entrance was open for the Harry Potter fans trickling in to pick up their copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Security guards on Segways eyed those entering the building, watching to make sure they headed straight for the escalator that would take them to the Borders Express upstairs.
The mall was dark and warm, the air conditioning having been turned up a few degrees for the night. Silence reigned, except in the small area outside of the bookstore, where chaos seemed to have taken control. There had been a celebration leading up to the witching hour, and salespeople dressed as witches continued to call out numbers for prize drawings. Since I was there only to pick up my preordered copy of the book, I didn't try to snag one of the little blue tickets needed for the prize drawings.
At the stroke of midnight, the crowd (not huge, but still too much for the small mall store) massed together to find their way to the registers to make their purchases. Incomprehensible instructions were given, which seemed to cause shifting of the crowd, but still, no clear lines were formed. Then, an imperious security guard began ordering people out of the store. A young girl nearby explained to me that customers were being taken in order of the numbers on their little blue tickets.
It was 10 past midnight at this point, and only a few people had left the store with book in hand. I had no idea where to obtain a ticket. Even if I came up with one, I'd be the very last customer served. While I could have abided an orderly line, the chaos in the store and the ill-will of the security guards made staying unpalatable to me.
I drove across the highway to Walmart, where peace and order marked the early moments of the new day. A simple line had been constructed outside. Bookmarks, posters, cupcakes, candy and wristbands were distributed to all who waited to enter the store, just a few people at a time. I waited no more than 5 minutes before gaining entrance. I was guided to a customer service desk where 2 clerks with stacks of books assisted with purchases. 5 minutes later I was home and beginning my journey into the final tome in the Harry Potter series.
As for Borders Express, I'd probably still be waiting in that mob right now...