Mall Watch 2013

In just a few days, we will kick off Mall Watch 2013. There’s still time to sign up for a shift on the fun and exciting opening weekend of the holiday shopping season. It’s people-watching at its finest.
You can view the current assignments and then sign up using this form.

If still you aren’t convinced, read these pearls of wisdom that Roger K5VFR wrote after his first Mall Watch shift last year:

What I Learned on My First Day of Mall Watch
By Roger K5VFR
How much can one person learn in two hours of mall watch duty? Well, it appears that what you need to learn is directly proportional to the stuff you don’t know. So here are my tips for sitting two hours at the Northeast Mall working as a volunteer for the Hurst Amateur Radio Club.

  1. While driving in for your assignment, if you really insist on using your HT inside a car, you really should get an outside antenna even if it’s only one that clips to the window. I think I might have driven Net Control crazy on my drive into The Northeast mall. Without a proper signal, there are lots of “say again”, “only 50% copy” and “try standing on a box”. I also might add that trying to keep your HT stable by stuffing it in your door handle with a sock doesn’t work. The keypad still gets punched and you wind up talking to interesting people on the wrong frequency.
  2. Just because you are arriving at your station by car, don’t succumb to the desire to take too much stuff. My first mistake was trying out a new secret-agent type headset (the kind that has a clear plastic tube going up to your ear). It also has a push-to-talk button that goes under your sleeve to your wrist and another wire that goes to the radio which has to be clipped somewhere on your body. Just untangling all these wires is quite a challenge. Also, the transducer that produces the audio that goes into the comfortable plastic tube is, for some reason, shaped like a grappling hook and there is no known comfortable way to hook it to your clothes. So, the first problem is if you’re not wearing a suit and have not concealed the wires under your clothes you look much like a tuna trying to escape from a fishing net. Now add to that a pair of binoculars hung around your neck and (in my case) a small portable weather station on top of your car, you now look like a crazed tuna trying to escape from a very tight fishing net. For some reason, this image manages to be upsetting to security guards and other normal people.
  3. Learn to love and know how to use your HT keypad lock. I cannot tell you how many times I managed to get off frequency by inadvertently changing modes, bands, or memory slots. This caused some concern by Net Control when I didn’t respond when called. I was worried about this until I realized it’s probably part of my job to try and drive Net Control crazy. It is good training and builds character (for Net Control, anyway).
  4. Going home. When it’s time to go home you probably just jump in the car, put on your seatbelt, and hit the road. It’s not until you arrive at your driveway that you realize your seatbelt has interacted with all of this gear, cables, and lanyards and you are now semi-permanently affixed to your car. It is now very helpful to have an understanding wife who feels obligated to love you, to nonchalantly cut you out of your seat, and simply ask “how did it go dear?”

K5VFR, Roger Beatty, Grapevine, Texas