Arden Fair Mall Ashtrays

part 1 | 2


Arden Mall has recently added tables, chairs and couches to a few places in the mall. These tables were the places I planned on placing the ashtrays, but I should have realized that on Saturday afternoon, all the tables would be surrounded by people.

I'm all in favor of working in broad daylight, but it was a little weird to be setting these used ashtrays down right in front of people.

I carried the ashtrays in inside a little blue bag, worked up my courage and set the first one down in front of the people at a table. It was on the second floor, outside of Sears and Cinnabon.

As I turned and walked away, I could feel everyone at the table staring at my back.

I ducked into the Cigar Wizard, or whatever it is called for a minute until the heat was off.

Having three people at a table was both a good and a bad thing. People tend to look to one another for clues about how to react in strange situations.

If the observers did know each other, the ashtray would probably become the topic of conversation.

If the people didn't know each other, they would be deterred from stealing the ashtray. 


I placed the second ashtray on the table downstairs, outside of Picture People, and moved on.

Outside of See's Candy, I placed the third ashtray, and a little further east, outside of Sephora, I set the final ashtray down.

As I placed the final ashtray, I heard one of the people at the table.

"I didn't know you were allowed to smoke in here".

I went back along my path, taking photos of the ashtrays. It was easy to get photos because Arden has a second floor with great views of the first floor.

 I didn't have high hopes for the longevity of this prank, so I loitered at the mall for an hour or so. I passed by the mall security booth, checking out their super-tele-observation center, wondering if I was already busted. I didn't think so. I browsed through the selection at Radio Shack and went back to survey my work a second time.


 I was disappointed to find the first ashtray was gone.

The second and third ashtrays were also gone. Damn! It had only been an hour, and they were all either stolen or picked up by security. The mall ashtray prank was on the verge of total failure.

I made my way back to the final remaining ashtray, and found it in the hands of an elderly Chinese man.

"Why?" He asked simply, holding it up like the gold medallion from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

"To be funny", I replied.

I held my hand out and he gave it to me. I dropped it into my Radio Shack bag, headed through Sears, continuing through to the parking lot.

The Arden Mall ashtray prank was over the same day it started. A disappointing day.


You know what else would make those mall tables look classy? Martinis!

I'm selling the last ashtray on ebay.

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February 18, 2004.

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