Okay, I have the WORST case of writer’s block ever. EVER. Nothing’s coming to me. No movies are enticing me. Nothing is making me angry or blissfully happy. Not even freaking Die Hard is working, and that’s saying something. I can tell in a couple of days that unmitigated rage bubbling forth from my soul will cure this, as P.S. I Love You is currently en route to my place of habitation, but I just wrote a post about Guitar Hero and Brett Ratner, so here’s something tangentially related to movies that might take the edge off that.
I hate these damn things. Death to VHS.
For those of you who still do the whole drive to the video store thing, you have a regular clerk or clerks who check you out, I’m sure. (And not just in the whole, “That person has a nice rear,” sort of way, either.) Be kind to them. There should be an International Appreciate Your Video Store Clerk Day, I’m convinced. And this relates to movies because I’m sure a lot of film geeks like me spent much of their time restocking five copies of Freddy Got Fingered while wondering why your defective copy of Seven Samurai hasn’t been replaced.
Either that, or I’ve totally lost you by now.
I worked for a large, national chain for almost two years as a manager.
It’s not the most appreciated job, or necessarily the most “noble”. It does pay, however, and it gets you the added bonus of free movies (usually) and the ability to work with like-minded folks. It does come with the downside of attracting a special breed of crazy, especially if you work nights. It’s quite unlike any other retail job I ever held down, and I’m including waiting tables in there (which has it’s own trials).
Let me skip the boring exposition and get straight to the meaty examples. Well, first, my favorite quotes actually uttered to me by customers:
- “I hope you die.”
- “I am going to kill you.”
- “I am going to wait until you get off your shift and then I’m going to kill you. What time does the store close?”
- “Open this door or I will break it down.”
- “I HATE YOU. I HATE EVERYTHING!” The customer punctuated this by throwing a DVD case at my head.
- “Are you retarded? You sure seem like it.”
- “I found out today I’m dying. Is my rental free?”
- “F**king c**t. Someone ought to put you out of your misery.”
There were the good…
Lady: I want you to hold a copy of this movie for me for next week.
Me: Ma’am, it’s company policy that we can’t hold movies.
Lady: I. WANT. YOU. TO. HOLD. THIS. MOVIE. FOR. ME. NEXT. WEEK.
Me: Ma’am, I can’t hold that for you.
Lady: This movie? Put my name on it and hide it until NEXT. WEEK.
Me: Ma’am, we really cannot hold movies for you. My company does not allow me to do that.
Lady: *grabbing pen from purse and snatching movie off the countertop* I’ll do it for you, then.
Me: *dying a little inside*
Man: *screaming profanity through the drop box* OPEN THE STORE! I STILL HAVE THIRTY SECONDS TO RENT A MOVIE! GODDAMMIT, I’M GOING TO WAIT UNTIL YOU COME OUT HERE AND SLASH YOUR TIRES AND BEAT YOU WITH THE TIRE IRON IN MY TRUNK…
Me: No copy of Man of the House is worth this… *dialing the police*
Co-Worker: Someone left used condoms in the kids section.
Co-Worker: Left them on the shelf by Air Bud. Please don’t make me touch them.
Me: Oh, gross. More than one?
Co-Worker: I stopped counting after two.
Me: How is that even POSSIBLE?
Co-Worker: I don’t know. And someone dropped a copy of Spongebob Squarepants in the drop box that’s covered in soda and something I don’t even want to identify. And it looks like they ran it over with their car for good measure.
In a previous job, I had this guy in my checkout line as a regular all the time. He used to ask me really weird questions all the time, but I figured hey, it makes a boring day less…boring, so what the hell. Until..
Him: Do white people ever discriminate against you?
Him: No, really. I want to know the truth.
Me: Sir, we’ve had this conversation before. I am white.
Him: No, you’re not.
Me: …Yes, I am.
Him: YOU ARE NOT WHITE.
Me: How so?
Him: You just aren’t. AND YOU’VE GOT AN ETHNIC NAME.
Me: *soul dying inside*
I shudder to think what that man would’ve thought of my name had my mother actually named me what she wanted to name me.
And the really weird….
Lady: You’re going to hell.
Me: Come again?
Lady: Supporters of these…homosexuals will all burn in hell! *throws copy of The L Word on the counter*
Me: I’m sorry that you disagree with that television show’s content, ma’am. (Honestly, I couldn’t think of anything else to say.)
Lady: I don’t want a refund. I don’t want a credit. I want to tell you that I will never support this ANTI-CHRISTIAN company ever again.
Me: I’m…very sorry…about that.
Lady: And you, you’re probably a socialist. You LET them sell this…filth.
Me: *confused* I don’t make choices about what we do and don’t stock, ma’am.
Lady: People like you lacked strong family values and a good Christian education! I just can’t believe you even allow this. How can you not throw up when you have to reshelve this garbage?
Me: Ma’am, did you read the back of the box before you rented it?
Lady: *indignant* I never read the backs of the boxes. I rented it because it was pink. You should put a WARNING on that…thing!
And the disturbing…
Clearly Disturbed Man: You won’t give me a free copy of Live Rich or Die Tryin’?
Me: No sir, I can’t. We can only switch out for the movie you rented.
Clearly Disturbed Man: Screw you, I’m going to make you regret this! *throws DVD, walks out of store*
Twenty minutes later…
Clearly Disturbed Man: I’m back. To make you regret what you did.
*Cue twenty seconds of him standing there, staring at me*
Clearly Disturbed Man: Hahahah! Just kidding. I know it’s not your fault. *goes to walk out door, and stops* Except it is all your fault. You’re to blame for this, you and the rest of these people. WHORES!
Me: *reaching for the phone to dial the cops*
Clearly Disturbed Man: *walks out as if nothing has happened at all*
Between all this and the homeless man that consistently loitered in front of my store, picking up cigarette butts off the sidewalk and out of trash cans to shove them in his mouth and eat them, it certainly never was a dull day.
If you wonder why your local clerk isn’t showing up in a bulletproof vest, it’s because they can’t afford the Kevlar.
Honestly, I look back on the whole thing in shock, mainly due to the fact that I never once was the victim of a robbery or a customer mad over late fees jumping my ass on the way to my car.
If you ever wanted to know why Quentin Tarantino is as completely whacked out as he is, I can nearly guarantee you it’s a combination of A) severe mental instability (I kid, Quentin, honest) and B) being a video store clerk.
Be nice to your local clerk, and they’ll give you the moon. I can’t tell you how many regulars who were kind, sweet people got honest reviews and honest opinions out of me. They quietly got the best treatment, the best movies, the 115% you could give. The jerkfaces of the world, who only asked me what I thought of Frequency to lash out at me for BEING ONE OF THOSE HIPSTERS and NOT BEING ABLE TO TRUST ANY OF WHAT ONE OF THESE KIDS SAYS THESE DAYS generally got an, “I’ll think you’ll like it,” and I left it at that.
So be kind to your video store clerk – it gets you farther than you think.