The FREE Mall Ride is simultaneously the best and worst thing about life in downtown Denver. First of all it’s FREE. And it takes you from one end of the Mall to the other. It’s very important to always capitalize FREE when referring to the Mall Ride. On the sides of the buses, signage and literature, it’s always the “FREE Mall Ride.” This is to remind you, should you be tempted to complain, that you didn’t pay anything to ride the bus, so STFU.
And public transportation really is the great equalizer. Everyone rides the FREE Mall Ride – businesspeople take it to and from the Light Rail (which takes them to the suburbs and is therefore not FREE), Downtown Denver employees take it from one assignment to the next, tourists ride it to ESPN Zone, high school students ride it because the acoustics are great for shrieking at each other…you get the idea.
Thursday is a raucous night for FREE Mall Ride aficionados. Out-of-towners are nearly done with their conferences and are ready to let their hair down. Things get a little crazy.
Tonight, I stood behind a guy who kept tapping his right shoe against one of the poles on the FREE Mall Ride. He’d tap the instep three times, tap the outside three times and then reach down and squeeze his calf. Then he’s squeeze the other calf, I guess to compare the two. Then he’d resume tapping. Three taps on each side, calf squeeze, calf squeeze, repeat. I guess we should all take every opportunity for physical fitness. Once or twice he’d interrupt the ritual to turn and wave to some people behind me.
I didn’t want to be rude, so I didn’t get a chance to see who he was was waving to until we disembarked. His friends were a man and a woman with some shopping bags. Not the craziest thing I have seen on the Mall. Oh and some teddy bears. The dude had a brown teddy bear and his lady friend had a pink one. But the bears were not in the shopping bags. They had zipped the teddy bears into their coats, facing outwards. Sort of like the yuppie baby transporters that allow baby to stare at people as you walk down the street. But with teddy bears. The only better time to ride the FREE Mall Ride is Saturday before noon. More on that later.
Also, two honorable mentions from the Classic Stuff I’ve Seen on the FREE Mall Ride files:
Guy Sniffing Paint Thinner from a Paper Bag;
and Seat Full of Urine.