Friday 5 Feb 2016. I felt excited to venture into the Macquarie Shopping Centre the largest shopping mall in Sydney. Only a ten-minute walk from where I was staying. At 9.00am I said goodbye to my hubby, Jeff and his brother, they had other plans for the day. I had mentioned I would like to cook dinner that evening and would buy the ingredients whilst there.
Rain gone, the sun was gently shining as I commenced my walk. The apartment I was staying at was near the end of a cul-de-sac where a lane opened up to a delightful park. As I was walking through the park, I had noted a covered adult exercise playground and thought this would be fun to try on my way home. Also, I could see and hear the bustling main road and the shopping complex.
Instead of turning left to the traffic lights to take me across to this complex’s main entrance, for some unknown reason I turned right and continued to walk to the other traffic lights.
I crossed over the road and headed through a long pathway, which lead me through the vehicle entrance. By now I am thinking, this is good I have found my way in.
As I walk through the complex. I found a shop with some interesting clothes and thought I will come back later to check them out. Some shops had not yet opened so I thought I would explore around to find Aldi’s, Coles, and the grog shop for my ingredients for tonight’s dinner. Pleased with myself when I finally found these shops. By now it is ten am. I decided I needed morning tea, I found a lovely coffee shop and ordered the mango, passionfruit smoothie. I sat myself down at a small table for two and commenced sipping my delicious cool drink. I slowly gazed around watching the traffic of interesting people passing by.
10.15am. I decided I would go and buy the ingredients for dinner. Now! Where are those shops I had found earlier? Walking around I came across the grog shop then I found the Chinese shop. Went in and came out with a few items to take back home to Tassie with me. Next I found Aldi and bought a few items then found Coles. Two bags later feeling quite chuffed with myself I decided to head home. Time now is around 11am.
Ok! One problem, how do I get out of this complex? I tried to find the way I had come in. But could not remember the way. I asked a few people but they could not help me as this was their first time as well. I asked a mother with a toddler and a baby in a pram if she could direct me out of this complex. We went to the direction board, which said to go up to level four, turn right etc. I thanked her and started walking, my bags were starting to feel heavy. The more I kept walking the more I was becoming confused. I felt like I was going around in circles.
Finally, I had become so tired I found a seat and just sat there. I had thought of going to the Concierge for help however, next to me was a small kiosk. I asked the storeowner how do I get out of this complex. She said oh! that is easy just walk around that corner and walk up the corridor and it will take you out. So I decided to take her advice instead of listening to my inner-feelings screaming at me to go and speak to the Concierge. Also, not once had I thought of ringing my husband’s brother for directions. I thanked her and started walking. It felt like an eternity getting to the end of that corridor. When I walked through the door the emotions of frustration started to form. It was a car parking station. I turned around and started to walk back down the corridor. I saw a lady in a security uniform going past me. As I arrived back to the complex I put the bags down and just stood there. I had become so tired and confused I could not think straight any longer, my inner thoughts were saying what the hell am I doing here! Next, minute I heard this soft voice ask me are you ok? It was the security lady.
I said No! She sat me down on the step then started to ask me a few questions and I said I am not from around here. I live in Tasmania and had come over to attend a funeral. Before I knew it I was having a “PANIC ATTACK”. I could not breath my chest was making this funny sound as I tried to breath. I felt so unwell I was also experiencing numbness running down my left side of my neck, shoulder and arm. Two more security guys turned up one had brought me a glass of water. As this was happening Jeff rang. One of the security guys took the phone and said, “Your wife is unwell and we need to look after her”. He then hung up on Jeff. Time was now around 12.15am. Meanwhile the security lady was wonderful and kept telling me to “Think happy thoughts”. As the attack settled, I was able to explain this was my first time in the centre and I was not sure how to get out of this complex. I rang Jeff again to find out the name of the main road. It turned out to be Waterloo Road. One of the male security guards had offered to take me home however, Jeff said stay put he and his brother will come and get me shortly.
The three concerned, caring security guards decided to take me to a coffee shop which was near the Event Cinemas and sat me down at the table and bought me a Latte they were even kind enough to carry my bags. As I sat there drinking they were all keeping an eye on me when all of a sudden the “Panic Attack “ came back. Ten minutes later I had settled down again. The security lady then sat for a further half hour and said my colour was coming back in my face. She said I had been so pale. Meanwhile, this dear lady in her eighties had joined my table. After asking me a few private questions the security lady had gone off to do her rounds and said the man at the coffee shop will keep an eye on me.
This dear eighty year old, lady sat with me for over an hour and a half keeping me company while I waited for the cavalry to come and save me. Around two thirty pm this dear lady had to leave me to do some shopping. I went and ordered another coffee then another two ladies joined me. One lady said to me “It has taken her over eight years to get used to this shopping complex” and the other lady said, “I always feel uncomfortable coming here”. It is now three pm and the Cavalry has arrived. As they order their drinks the two ladies say goodbye and depart. Before I know it the dear little eighty year old lady has come back to see how I am. I introduce her to my family and they thanked her for keeping an eye on me. I overheard her say that, “It was lovely chatting to Rosie, she is a very precious lady”. Then she departed for home.
I was surprised to find out that where I was sitting all that time at the coffee shop the Entrance to this shopping complex was a few metres away.
If I had turned left in the first place this story would not have eventuated.
“The Macquarie Centre is a regional shopping centre located between Waterloo Herring and Talavera Roads in the suburb of Macquarie University’s main campus and is the largest shopping mall in Sydney.
There is public transit access such as: buses and the University railway station.
I have been told that they are going to extend the Macquarie Centre. Heaven helps us; I for one hope never to venture there again.
One review I found echoed my sentiments of the Macquarie Shopping Centre.
“ A bit hard to navigate even with assistance Kiosks due to disorientating ramps”.
My husband who is a building designer said that shopping centres and supermarkets are deliberately designed to confuse shoppers so that they stay there longer.
The lyrics from the Eagles song “Hotel California” says it all:
Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before.
“Relax.” said the night man,
“We are programmed to receive.
You can check –out any time you like,
But you can never leave!”
Talking to friends I found one had had the same experience at the Macquarie Centre and others told me of similar experiences of disorientation at other shopping complexes.
I have been told that “Panic Attacks” are more common than we realise.