Monday, October 23, 2006

On cursed sites

Have you ever noticed that some public places are cursed?

I actually have two slightly different meanings in mind when I say this. (And by "cursed" I don't mean companies which propagate evil or unfair business practices, causing others to spew profane vitriol at them -- that's "cussed," which is fodder for another discussion entirely.)

The first kind of cursed site is a phenomenon my husband and I first observed in Provo, Utah in our early years of marriage. Provo is a college town, an interesting mix of long-term locals and short-term students. Some old and well-loved businesses have thrived for decades in the same spot by catering to both kinds of residents. But there are other commercial properties not so fortunate -- such as a particular prime bit of real estate just one block south of campus. This property has housed a string of failed restaurants and other doomed businesses ever since the demise of the little family cake bakery which had operated successfully there for three generations. It's hard to say why, exactly; maybe it's poor business models, maybe it's due to the fickleness of the student population, maybe the departing family put a hex on the site, who knows -- but woe unto the business that chooses to set up shop on that property, because said business will invariably fail within six months to a year. My theory: this particular site couldn't be more cursed if the Banshee showed up and washed socks on its doorstep. If I were a betting woman (which I'm not), I could make a mint predicting the inevitable collapse of any business that chose to rent this site, or any one of several other cursed sites in the area.

The other kind of cursed site is one usually associated with abandoned places such as ghost towns or haunted houses, except the place I'm specifically thinking of is neither abandoned nor ghostly. It's the Safeway supermarket closest to my house. Even though I rather like Safeway, I never visit this supermarket because I suspect it is cursed. Whenever I've gone in, the only shoppers I ever see there are of two varieties: a) the consumptive addict about two days from the grave, or b) the career criminal freshly sprung from the clink. I know this probably sounds silly, and I am speaking with a bit of tongue in cheek, but I'm quite serious when I say I won't shop there any more. The place gives me the severe creeps even during the day. I've been there only once at night, and on that occasion I practically ran to my car because I was positive that I was in danger of being raped at any moment. Mind you, there were no dangerous-looking persons in the store or in the parking lot; it was practically empty at the time. I don't know how to explain it, other than to say that there's an evil feel to that place which assaults one's spirit. It is the polar opposite of the feeling one gets when one enters a loving home.

The odd thing is that I've only experienced this feeling inside the Safeway. There's a Bi-Mart store right next door, part of the same set of buildings, where I feel perfectly calm and safe.

If you doubt me and my tales of the Cursed Safeway, I invite you to come and visit me some time. I'll drive you over there and let you go inside and see for yourself, but I won't come in with you. I've had quite enough of the shopping heebie-jeebies, thanks.


tlawwife said...

I can so relate to both of these circumstances. We have a small restaurant here that I am truly hoping has broken the curse of not making it but everyone is wondering. We also have a convenience store that I don't go in because I don't like the way it feels. Although it is a popular place it is just not for me.

Cpt. Midnight said...

And it's not just us. There was a lady I once walked out to her car from the Safeway store because she said shopping there gave her "the creeps."

Ornithophobe said...

Here in Louisville, we had the "Wasteland" (Westland) Mall- later rechristened the "Park Place Mall." Nothing could live there. Nothing. At either end, Target and Value City maintained steady presence, but inside? A series of revolving businesses. I think the Merle Norman held on for about five years, but the average span was about ninety days for everything else. Owing to location, the place should have been filled all the time- but no business could survive.

Finally they bulldozed the interior, leaving only the stuff at either end- and put up a "strip mall" instead. Dollar Tree and Big Lots moved in, and they've done fine. So whatever curse there was, applied only to interior mall structures. :)

Kinda miss strolling the ghostly, empty halls of the Wasteland, though. Was a good place to think and be alone.

Soozcat said...

Heh. Funny, I've heard people describe the Totem Lake Mall in Kirkland, Washington exactly the same way.