Just a little misunderstanding. My fault. For a minute there it appeared I was guilty of unauthorized mall walking.
It happened two Sunday mornings ago when I stopped in at the Marley Station mall for coffee. Right in front of the Vie de France coffee shop was this sign. No kidding: "ATTENTION WALKERS -- ALL MALL WALKERS MUST BE REGISTERED AND WEAR I.D.
TAGS, VISIBLY, AT ALL TIMES. MALL WALKING IS PERMITTED BETWEEN 7:30 AM & 10 AM MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY ONLY -- Thank you."
This stopped me in my tracks. Here it was a Sunday and there I was just walking in the mall. Unregistered, no I.D. tags. Just walking, like scores of other people. Many of them were walking right past this sign. Scofflaws.
All right, get a grip, I thought. Apparently what we had here was something very contemporary with which I am unfamiliar, like high-definition television, 2 Live Crew, "Twin Peaks."
Of course. I had confused walking in a mall with Mall Walking. Had this problem before when I saw a magazine advertisement for official Mall Walking shoes, about $80 a pair.
No kidding. These were shoes designed specifically by a team of engineers for the purpose of walking in malls. Pardon me, for Mall Walking.
Imagine, some people think America's lost the technological edge.
Of course. Mall Walkers, not to be confused with people walking in malls, are a group of people who walk in the mall before the mall opens for business as a form of exercise.
There are about 1,000 people between the ages of 55 and, yes, 100, involved in the program, sponsored jointly by North Arundel Hospital, Vie de France coffee shop and Marley Station Mall.
On any given morning, said Todd Jerscheid, Marley Station customer service supervisor, you might have 200, 250 people Mall Walking.
I knew that.
The identification tags -- giving name, address, emergency contact, and any medical condition -- are required in case a Mall Walker needs medical attention.
But why the time limit, I wondered.
For this question Jerscheid referred me to Betty Berdine, another mall official, who referred me to the marketing director, Roni Septoff.
Septoff said Mall Walking is officially suspended at 10 a.m., when the mall opens, for the safety of both the Mall Walkers and the mall customers, who are merely walking. This to limit the chance of an accident.
"Mall Walkers tend to walk extremely fast," said Septoff.