I staked out my position at the bottom of the escalator, not far from where Santa was taking requests. I couldn't help but notice shopper after shopper pulling out their smartphones on the 30-second glide to the bottom level.
Constant connectivity, after all, demands that you not waste even a half-minute escalator ride.
I was at Seminole Towne Center in Sanford to talk to shoppers about whether they could follow through on my recent challenge for readers to go all day on Christmas without using their cell phones and tablets.
The idea is to tune out distractions and focus on the people right in front of you. (Always eager to help readers out, we've created a festive "No Cell" placard that you can download, print and post for Christmas Day. Go to OrlandoSentinel.com/nocell)
A lot of mall shoppers told me they liked the idea of putting their cell phones away, and thought they could really do it. Others said I was crazy.
But taking a smartphone time-out isn't crazy. It's healthy. And making a regular, conscious effort to distance yourself from constant connectivity doesn't make you any less connected.
Just ask Hillel Skolnik and Sharon Barr Skolnik.
They're young suburbanites (He's 29, she's 31) with a three-car garage, a two-seat baby stroller and a set of matching smartphones.
Like so many of us, the Dr. Phillips couple begin and end most days with their smartphones.
But unlike many of us, they also take a weekly time out and, as they call it, "unplug."
From sundown on Fridays until just after sundown on Saturdays, the Skolniks, both rabbis, observe the Jewish Sabbath by turning off their phones and most other technology, including their television and kitchen appliances.
That makes my recent challenge to readers to put their smartphones away on Christmas Day seem like child's play.
The Skolniks are every bit as addicted to their devices as many of us, but they unplug every week. And survive.
"We disconnect from the world to help us be closer to God, but also to each other," said Sharon. "We take one day in our crazy busy week and, in theory, rest."
It's not always easy, especially this time of year when sundown comes so early.
"Most times lately, I haven't gotten to check my e-mail for that 1,000th time or if somebody has left me a voice mail I haven't gotten to call them back," she said. "In some ways it's really challenging because it's sort of hanging over you ... but you just have to say, 'I'm not going to worry about this right now. I'm going to worry about it 25 hours from now.'"
You don't have to embrace the Skolniks' religious beliefs as the basis for unplugging each week. There's plenty to suggest the benefits aren't spiritual alone.
Call it a digital detox or an escape from the online world, scientists say our brains benefit from down time.
Hillel, the rabbi at the Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregation, says, in many ways, our dependence on smartphones and tablets can't be avoided.
"You can't be taken seriously as a professional if you don't do it," he said. "You're just not going to be able to succeed in today's world."
At the same time, certain life skills just can't be developed via texting or Facebook.
"If you don't practice communication face-to-face then in that moment, when let's say someone loses a loved one, you aren't going to know how to have a face-to-face conversation and that's a big problem," Hillel said.
A sad-face emoticon and a text doesn't cut it when a friend is grieving. At least, it shouldn't.
Another reason to take my challenge and put away your smartphones and tablets on Christmas Day.