This morning, I was 100% ready to spend this blog complaining about something related to cold weather, darkness and snotty noses. But then, something more traumatic tainted my day. I was in Amsterdam in search of a birthday gift for my brother and figured that this would be a great excuse to buy an awful, gimmicky, Christmas-themed anything. As I stumbled upon the Primark, I decided that this might be just the place to find such an item. And so I entered, which was, as it turns out, a giant mistake.
As soon as I stepped in, I was bombarded with colors, textures, people, glitters and any other thing that might elicit a panic attack. Determined not to get overwhelmed, I stumbled and squirmed my way to an escalator, expecting to find everything that wasn’t women’s clothing on the first floor. To my surprise, both the ground floor, the first floor and the second floor consisted of women’s clothing. Not only did this strike me as an unnecessary amount of women’s clothing, but more pressingly, it gave rise to the question: how many floors are there?!
Seven. Seven floors filled with everything nightmares are made of: teens, tourists, t-shirts with seemingly random texts on them and anything with glitters on it. This should have been a sign that perhaps it was time to turn around and run, but of course, I powered through. All I would have to do was go up the escalators, right?
Well, technically, yes. But of course, the escalators went up alternating sides, requiring me to cross every floor to reach the next escalator. Or rather, I had to crawl my way through the overexcited shoppers, gagging over Harry Potter sweaters and Fortnite socks.
By the time I reached the second floor, I was completely covered in sweat. Trying to find a place to catch my breath, I spotted a corner where some of the fanatic shoppers were sitting down. Above their heads, I could make out a WiFi sign and the words “Low battery? Recharge here”.
I slowly started to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Free WiFi? The phone-charging youths with dark-circled eyes? The confusing escalators? This place may be aimed at attracting young shoppers, but it was definitely not designed for them to ever leave again. Just at the top of the escalator, I start frantically trying to descend it, despite its upward motions. I push away girls carrying unicorn sweaters, I scream in the faces of innocent tourists to make them move out of the way. I need to get out of this place.
As I reach the ground floor, dark spots start appearing in front of my eyes, but I keep manically working my way through the crowd. Finally, the feeling of cold air touches my cheeks and the smell of weed-smoking tourists reaches my nostrils. I look up and see the four letters that make my heart beat a little faster: HEMA. ‘At last,’ I think, ‘I am home.’
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