An old friend of mine popped into the store today. I haven't seen this guy in 15 years but we're still mates on Facebook and he keeps up to date with all of the FakeShemp.Net stuff. He now lives in Cairns (QLD) and he's flown down for a few days. We were deep into conversation about football when some bogan Chopper lookalike fuckwit came from out of nowhere and cracks some retarded joke about Collingwood's dental plan. My friend and I give him a nervous laugh in agreement, to which he took that as permission to keep going. Holy shit, you should have heard this guy. He then started talking about how he managed to convert his his daughter over to Essendon with a white chocolate Freddo Frog and how she's "easy", which according to him explains why he's got so many grandchildren. Then he switches gears and starts talking about Croydon and how ferral it is and that he wouldn't step foot into Cash Converters. Of course he's not wrong but it was a strange thing to hear coming from a man who looks like the Croydon ambassador. Then he started talking about "that fuckin' place on the Gippy Highway called CRIMEbourne" Oh he was having a great time practically talking to himself. Hilariously he didn't give himself enough breath to stop and realize that my friend and I were looking at each other in a perpetual state of WTF. This guy was clearly a lunatic. With a handlebar moustache, only a few random teeth and a haircut that Ted Bullpit would be proud of he was a true one of a kind (That's a figure of speech. Sadly his type are everywhere). And as if it wasn't hilarious enough that this guy looked like Mark Read he left us with a line that made our jaws drop... "Right. Better get back to deal with all these fucking school kids!" -- yep, turns out he is the local bus driver! ROFL.
After he left I turned to my mate and said "Right. Now you can back me up when I say that these Tales From A Clerk stories are true. You've seen it with your own eyes!".
It has been 9 days since Robin Williams died. The loss is still resonating and many of us are still dealing with it. Not a day goes by that I don't have people ringing my store and asking for DEAD POETS SOCIETY... as though it were the only film he's ever made. I have at least 45 of his films in stock and have a list printed at the counter for people wanting to explore his extensive catalogue. Sadly the only film people are interested in is bloody DEAD POETS SOCIETY. Sure, it's a good film but it's not a great one. In fact it's part of that tiresome formula-machine that churns out the same movie over and over with new faces and new angles -- To Sir With Love, Lean On Me, Stand and Deliver, Dangerous Minds (etc) -- They're all the same!
Every day the phone rings. "Do you have DEAD POETS SOCIETY?". Most of the time I inform them that the film is on hire and mention that we have over 40 other films of his available including The Fisher King, Good Morning Vietnam, Dead Again, The Birdcage, One Hour Photo, Hook, Aladdin, What Dreams May Come and August Rush. Most people say "no thanks" and hang up but if I'm lucky a few might stay on the line to discover films they never knew he made... and even then, most of them only wanted DEAD POETS SOCIETY and never ask for other titles to be set aside.
Robin Williams has left us with so many films. Many hilarious, many dramatic and a some that are chilling. His talent extends far beyond DEAD POETS SOCIETY and if people truly want to spend some time reflecting on his brilliance then perhaps they ought to think outside of that box. After all "Carpe diem!" (damn I hate that phrase).
This topic is an ongoing theme throughout this website and I've written various similar articles
My favourite type of conversation to have in the store is about the amazing childrens & family films of the 1980s. It's always a wonderful and nostalgic point of discussion and every now and then I am able to offer some insight and trivia that people never knew or considered. I just had one of these conversations with a lovely lady who has been interested in introducing her kids to some of these classics. Naturally I am only happy to oblige. Last time she was in she had a specific film in mind and desperately wanted her kids to see THE LAST STARFIGHTER. And so it was....
She returned today to continue our discussion and she seemed a lot less enthusiastic. THE LAST STARFIGHTER had frightened her kids and she was now very hesitant to continue her quest. Her kids are aged between 7 and 12. She was a little shocked to discover that the movie was a lot more confronting than she remembered it being as a kid. So then I started talking about that being the wonderful thing about 80's kids flicks... that they challenged kids and gave them something to think about and helped build up a resilience. We talked about movies like FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR, THE DARK CRYSTAL, GREMLINS, THE NEVERENDING STORY, ET and THE GOONIES. She agreed with me that these films made her childhood wonderful and that her memories of them were fond ones. Again, she was surprised to realise how confronting they were upon reflection. She told me that as a mother she was now too scared to expose her kids to them. "What if they have nightmares?"... "It might scare them" etc.
As lovely as this lady is (very lovely) I think that she's neglecting the fact that she grew up just fine. That she remembers these films with affection. That her kids are no younger than she was when she loved these titles. That being a little bit scared during a movie isn't a bad thing.
And so I did recommend that she persevere and put her kids to the test... but I also gave her a good list of some tamer 80's family films like THE WIZARD, LITTLE SPIES and UNCLE BUCK.
Yesterday I lost my voice. With work and the Melbourne International Film Festival currently taking up a heap of my time I have probably been burning the candle at both ends. But there is also a lot of flu going around and being a video store, many of the sickies end up at my counter and no amount of hand-sanitizer is going to stop all bugs in their tracks. I can handle sick but not having a voice while behind the counter is problematic. I took yesterday off and spent it resting on the couch. I tried to do the same again today but none of my staff were able to help out at such short notice.
To compound my frustration I am having some serious computer issues and if I don't have them resolved by 5PM I will be up Shit Creek with a turd for a paddle. Right now I am waiting for help to arrive and so this blog is helping to pass the time.
But to the purpose of this post... what the fuck is wrong with people? My God there are some morons out there and sadly several of them have been through my store this morning. When customers approach me at the counter I have had to whisper (as best I can) that I have no voice. Now if I were a customer and had a clerk tell me that they couldn't speak, I would go about my business without trying to irritate them. The last thing I would do is ask questions. Unfortunately for me, several of my customers have not afforded me such consideration. The first woman to walk in came to the counter and said hi. I pointed to my throat and whispered "I'm sorry but I have no voice today". She replied "Oh that's ok. I'm wondering if you can tell me what TRACKS is about? I've heard good things" -- is she fucking serious?? I honestly CANNOT talk and so I picked up the cover from the shelf and showed her the back (you know, where the synopsis is!). The next customer was a guy who wasn't even looking to hire movies. Again, I made it clear that I am unable to speak and his response was "This will only take a minute. Can you tell me how to get to Warrandyte from here?". -- serious? And then there have been a few others who understood that I am vocally challenged but still wanted to know how my day was (at least I can respond with body language and expression).
I really shouldn't be working today. So who wants to come and fix my computers and do all of the talking?
A bloke just got snippy at me because I couldn't agree with him that 300 RISE OF AN EMPIRE was "awesome!". As my review earlier this week shows, I thought it was a turd of a movie. Oh how this guy raved about it. Unfortunately for him I just couldn't agree... although I never made a big deal out of it. I told him that so long as he enjoyed it, that's all that matters. After all it's always a case of diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks. He asked me what I didn't like about it and so I stated my case. Too gratuitous, poorly made, poorly acted etc (you can read my review). He scoffed at me and gave a little laugh. I smiled and wished him a nice afternoon and right before he left he says to me "How amazing does HERCULES with The Rock look?" ... um... sure. The proof will be in the pudding... or more precisely, the beefcake!
I almost got through the day without a headache... until some guy walked in and took me on. He was returning 2 movies and told me that his kids had already seen them and that he was going to swap them for something else. Note that he TOLD me he was going to swap them and never actually ASKED if he could. I scanned them into my computer and noticed that they had been hired a couple of day ago. I said to the guy "alright I will let you swap them over this time but just so that you know, we normally don't do this". He immediately reacted and said "why the hell not?" to which I replied "just a policy, sorry". Seemingly he missed that part where I was letting him swap them and he continued "I know my rights, mate. That's wrong!". With a sigh I thought to myself here we go and I explained to him that once movies are hired we can only exchange them if they're defective and that what a member hires is up to them and furthermore there has been ample time for his kids to have watched the films several times over... yadda yadda. You know, common sense stuff! The guy gave me one of those arrogant, smartarse smirks and said "you're pathetic mate. It's just a couple of movies" to which I replied "Those movies are our trade. This IS our business, sir". He seemed intent on pushing me, ignoring the fact that I was allowing him the opportunity to swap the bloody things. It seems to me that it was more a case of him being caught out trying to doop me and overcompensated in his case of defense. I could have shut him down, denied the swap and told him to FUCK OFF... but let him score his freebies like the nice guy that I am. What-the-fuck-ever. If I had a dollar for every twat who tried to wraggle free movies.... sheesh. -- Winge over!
Whether or not this is a story worth sharing, I don't know (you decide) but there's a lot of frustration that I need to vent and this ought to be cathartic. For the past 20 minutes I have been dealing with a woman who means well but really needs to reevaluate how she operates. Whenever she comes into the store she seeks our advice and recommendations. As a general rule we love to interact with people and we're happy to offer advice but most people also know that our opinion should be taken with a grain of salt and the fact remains that all opinions are subjective and personal. I've written about this countless times before. What floats my boat might sink yours and vise versa.
And so choosing the busiest time of the day to visit, this lady wanted my help. She never actually bothers to look for films on her own and only ever hires what we choose for her. Because I was busy and had a store full of customers I politely told her that I would absolutely help her choose some movies for the kids but when it came to films for her and her husband, she would have to spend some time browsing. She looked at me like a deer in headlights and I apologised and explained that I was super busy and that there's a world of cinema out there to discover and just because I like something doesn't mean she will.
Of course I am paraphrasing and probably sound like an asshole right now, but I assure you that the conversation was sympathetic and kind. She had trouble grasping the idea of taste being subjective and so I caved in and said "alright. how about you have a look and when I've served these other people I will come and discuss and help you some more". She was happy that I said that.
After five minutes of processing other transactions I gave her my time and continued the conversation. For some reason out of the blue she asked me what I thought about 22 JUMP STREET. She had seen it with her husband at the cinemas and hated it. "I would give it zero stars" she declared. My response was "Ah, you see. I would personally rate it a lot higher. I loved it". My opinion bothered her. "But it was stupid" she replied. I explained to her that I thought it was also actually quite intelligent and that it was a self-referential movie that parodied the concept of sequels... yadda yadda yadda. "I didn't get that" she replied. LOL. And so I asked her what she thought of the first movie to which she told me she didn't know that there was another one. Oh dear. I replied "Ah well there's another reason why you didn't like it. You had no point of reference".
Anyhow It was a long, painful and frustrating discussion and, while it was eventually demonstrated that opinions are different, she will still continue to insist that we make ALL of her selections for her. Perhaps I will start to choose shit movies for her instead. Maybe she could do with a spate of terrible films to convince her to think for herself. I cannot imagine walking into a store and asking the clerk to do my shopping for me. I am here to provide good service, advice and opinions but I am not here to make decisions for people.
Rant over. Was it worth it? Meh.
A middle aged gentleman came into the store today. He had a list in his hand and, making an assumption that we wouldn't have any of the titles, he read them all out to me. Naturally we DID have every single one of them. His response was a raised eyebrow. I will take that to mean that he was impressed. lol. He then put a membership card on my counter and said "use this!". Unfortunately the card was for another video store (bearing no resemblance to my store). I assumed that he mistakenly removed the wrong card from his wallet and I told him that it was not one of our cards. He replied "I don't care. Use it". I did my best to explain that I couldn't but he didn't understand, nor did he want to understand. "Just hire to me with this card". Err... how about NO? And so I asked him for a driver's license and offered to sign him up with a new membership. He huffed and made removing his photo ID look like the most laborious task on Earth. With his ID in my hand the first thing I did was check if he was already an established member. He was not a member, however his son was. Because of a 3rd party claus in the member agreement I asked whether he would like to use his son's account to hire the movies instead. He replied "absolutely not." He then told me that he has been using the card that he originally produced "for many years", which was clearly impossible considering that it belongs to another business. "Just use the fucking card" he insisted. Hmm, this was not good. It's never nice to have an issue escalate for no reason whatsoever and so I went ahead and began signing him up from scratch. Mid-way through the process he says to me "Can you check if my son is a member here? Maybe I can use his card". -- cue brain explosion!
There are some TALES FROM A CLERK that are too short to justify an entire article. Usually they end up as Twitter posts or Facebook rants and offer an amusing point of discussion on social media. The following are a series of these posts, collected and randomly placed. Enjoy.
TALE FROM A CLERK: Movie posters come and go. I have almost 100 of them on display at any given time. So many generic and boring posters that all look the same and represent all that is dull in movie marketing... but display 1 single PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES poster and suddenly I'm getting complaints galore. "Too scary for kids" is the general gist of it... PLEASE! Here is my message to idiot parents: you know those times when you dump your kids in my store (essentially for me to babysit) while you're off sipping lattes with other mums? Well your kids spend most of that time looking at all of the scary covers in the horror section. So yeah, I'll remove that poster but promise me that you'll stick it up your arse!!
TALE FROM A CLERK: I just had a conversation with a guy. He asked what I thought of the new Robocop and I told him that I loved it. I mentioned that I was pleased that it didn't try to emulate the original film... to which he replied "it couldn't have possibly been any worse than the original"... I was shocked. Dumbfounded. Without words
TALE FROM A CLERK: Wow. Today's weather really has been delivering some doosies. Just had a woman ask me "whats good?". I rambled off a list of films that I would highly recommend and each one she looked at was accompanied with her saying "No. I think comedy is far too subjective" and "Drama? No. We all have different tastes" and "Action. What floats one persons boat might not float another's" -- SO WHY THE FUCK DID SHE ASK ME WHAT WAS GOOD? lol
TALE FROM A CLERK: Just had a father hiring movies for his son. His membership card was wedged inside his wallet. His conversation with himself was as follows: "Let me get it out for you... (grunt) it's really hard.... (sigh) but it won't come" -- When it finally got it he let off a huge sigh of relief.
TALE FROM A CLERK: Just had a woman tell me (in the same breath) that her family were "sci-fi fanatics" and then that they'd never heard of Pacific Rim.
TALE FROM A CLERK:
Woman: Rio 2 is at the cinemas. Do you have it to hire?
Me: No, it just started at the cinemas.
Woman: I know. But do you have it to hire?
TALE FROM A CLERK: A man returned THE WOLF OF WALL STREET. He told me that he was in finance and that the film was totally unrealistic and that those sort of things never happen in real life. I told him that it was based on a true story. "May Ass it is" he said
TALE FROM A CLERK:
A woman returned this today and complained that we failed to tell her that it was part 2. She hadn't seen part 1 yet.
I have a gumball machine in my store and I run an ongoing competition with it. Every kid who puts 20c into the machine can guess a colour and if that colour gumball comes out they win a free weekly movie hire. It's a hugely popular competition and people will come in especially for it. I cap the number of guesses to 2 per child as not to promote an unhealthy addiction. This afternoon a mother brought her two young sons in to have a guess. The first kid guessed red. He put his money in, turned the lever and was given a blue gumball. Kids are never disappointed when they don't guess correctly because they still get the gum. So then the second son had his turn and this is where it gets really weird. He guessed orange but before he could turn the lever the mother abruptly said "Not orange. I don't want orange". I thought it was a little strange but kept to my business. I heard one click of the lever when she burst into a tantrum... "I said NO orange. I hate orange. What part of no orange don't you understand?". The kid was a little stunned, as was I. It's not like he was guaranteed to get orange. It's just a guess.. he had just as much chance of getting a green. The first son had guessed red and ended up with blue... for some reason this woman had made her mind up that orange was evil and even a stab in the dark was too risky for her. Now I wish I could tell you that the kid chose blue and ended up with orange but the truth is that he caved in to her pressure and chose pink...... and got pink. Dammit.
A woman approached me this morning with a DVD in her hand. The film was THE WOLF OF WALL STREET and she placed it in front of me before expressing her concern. She said "We hired this last night and we were very shocked. We wanted to make sure that you have classified it as R-rated on your shelf because it really should be". I smiled and tapped my finger onto the abundantly obvious R rating on the case she had hired. I said to her "Yep, it sure is" to which she replied with a sigh of relief "Phew. That's good because I was going to ask you to change it to R".
Hmm. I would have thought that someone who was so easily offended would check a classification of a film before hiring it to begin with (I sure as hell am well aware of the ratings of ALL movies I watch, even if I couldn't care less) and furthermore at the point of being offended at home I would have picked up the case to clarify and ease my mind before asking the guy at the point of return. Not to mention to generic R18+ warning that is displayed on the screen before the film begins. In this case it states R18+ Restricted. High impact sex scenes and drug use.
Oh and of course I can just change the rating of a film with a simple switch of stickers. Yeah why not? It's not like we have a national classification board who determine such things.
When running a store alone during the day there is no such thing as "lunch". At least not in the sense of sitting down, eating food, and getting back to work. The foot traffic through the door is unpredictable... sometimes we will go an hour without a single customer and at other times we will have a dozen at once. Whenever I bring my lunch to work with me I have to pick my moments carefully before I can eat it. A 20 minute break between customers is the logical time to start eating but the moment I take a bite, someone is guaranteed to walk in and demand my attention. It's a law of retail and I'm used to it. Today, however... Arrgggghhhh! I didn't bring any food with me and by the time noon had arrived I was starving. With the cold weather set-in we are busier than usual and trade is great. Finding a moment to get food proved to be tricky. Finally the last customer in the store left and I quickly seized the opportunity to lock up and pop down to the bakery. A meat pie was the order of the day and as I walked back to my store my face dropped. Waiting at the outside like loons at a boxing day sale were 5 people all anxious to get in. The chances of me eating straight away were slim to none. I greeted them all with a smile, unlocked the door and let them inside. One woman said to me "I bet you hate it when you try to eat lunch and people interrupt you". I smiled and thought to myself "yes I fucking do". I rested my lunch on the bench and waited for these people to do their thing... all of them had chosen films and left within about 10 minutes, HOWEVER, the lady who made comment upon entry took her sweet time. Yes... 45 minutes of sweet time to be exact. I am not the type of person to eat in front of customers (especially a meat pie) because it's a terrible look and so I went about some jobs and tried with all of my might to will her out the door. No such luck. And so after forty five minutes she selected a movie (just one) and finally came to the counter. I feigned an upbeat smile, completed the transaction and wished her a good weekend. Finally, the store was empty and my lunch awaited. With my stomach in knots I bit into the chunky meat pie, which was stone cold and now disgusting... and didn't get a single customer for another hour.
The Universe is such that most problematic customers visit the store on Friday afternoons. It's only ever when you've almost finished the working week without incident that a stickler will come in and send you into the weekend with a thumping headache. Let me tell you about the last time this happened to me... ie the Friday just passed. My day was busier than usual with the long-weekend upon us. Just after lunchtime a familiar face walked through the door... not the type of familiar face you are pleased to see, but rather the type that has you saying "o-oh, here we go" under your breath. I have had all kinds of run-ins with this woman over the years (there's probably other stories about here on this site) and even when I'm driving with my partner and see this woman at the bus stop I will say "that woman there... a psycho!". And so in she walks and I extend her the same courtesy that I afford everyone. I asked how she was and told her to let me know if she needed any help. An important thing to know about this woman is that she's still living the VHS life and DVD is very new and scary to her. At this point you would be forgiven for thinking that she is a frail old lady but she's not. She is in her mid-50s and bares a permanent expression of someone who'd just been shat upon. From the other end of the store she yells out "You got this!? You got that?" (you can insert whatever titles you want into those quotations because I couldn't understand a world she was saying from where I was). I was also serving another customer at this time and wasn't able to physically assist her. She went about her browsing and I went about my business. I have always found the best way to deal with her is to let her be and not engage in much dialogue. After a while she bought a selection of 8 titles to the counter. I gave her a smile, asked how she was again and began to scan the them onto her account. The transaction was almost complete when she said "your store has nothing I want". She makes this point whenever she visits and yet always manages to take 8 films that she's never seen before. I gave her a small smile and apologised for that. She then told me that my store is "the worst". Again, I apologised and reminded her that there is another video store right near her home. She explained to me that she was banned at that store by the "awful Asians" who own it. I was suddenly filled with a sense of envy that those owners had already taken the initiative and kicked her miserable ass out. She then told me that I am a terrible store owner for not stocking "Frankenstein's Baby", which is a very rare British TV movie from the late 80s which has never had a DVD release anywhere in the world. I know this because, oddly, it's a title I have also spent years trying to obtain. I explained to her that it's a hard title to come by and she switched into passive-aggressive smartass mode and said "I'll get my son to download it. I'll get my son to download everything". I smiled and said "fair enough". She obviously wanted a reaction and emphasised the fact that she (a woman who constantly asks for VHS) owned a USB STICK! "I have a USB stick and I can download movies onto it" she continued. I couldn't help but smile. "Be careful doing that" I replied to which she unleashed a new tirade and stepped her game up to psychotic. With a store full of customers she started yelling out that I was a bigot. "You are an arrogant, self-centered bigot!" she declared. "You think that you're better than everyone else." This was the moment that I pulled out my scissors and snipped her membership card in half, right before her eyes. I told her that I won't tolerate that sort of behavior and that she can take her business elsewhere. With her finger in my face she called me a bigot one last time, to which I asked "am I as bad as those awful Asians?". At this point she turned her attention to the large abundance of blu-ray movies in my new release section. She said "I hope you're happy. You are single-handedly killing your own industry by having blu-ray movies and not catering for people like me who still want videos". Common sense would tell you that a business with an emphasis has said emphasis for good reason but you can't argue logic with lunatics. She continued "you haven't done your market research because you have so much blu ray when no one hires it. I hope your business dies". Following a big LOL I asked her to leave. She then made her way to the door while chanting some kind of gibberish that kept repeating the word bigot and then she finally left the store (but not before declaring a hex on my head). A massive sense of relief washed over me. You can call me an awful Asian if you want, but I had finally dealt with an ongoing problem and won't be seeing her again. w00t. Usually aggressive customers add weight to the rest of the day and/or weekend but in this instance I had a ripper of a time.
Last week I had a young man in my store. He was focused on the Australian section. He was browsing the titles for a good 30 minutes before he finally made his selection and approached me at the counter. He had a gleeful look on his face and he asked me what I thought was the funniest Australian film ever made. "Oh geeze" I replied. I was put on the spot and without a lot of time to think, I named the first few that came to mind. "That's a hard one, mate" I continued... "If I had to pick a few on the spot then probably films like MALCOLM, THE BIG STEAL and DEATH IN BRUNSWICK". The guy gave me a weird little chuckle... you know, the type of self-absorbed and arrogant laugh that the nerdiest of nerds offer to those they deem less worthy. I continued "But really mate, that's a tough call. There's loads of great Aussie comedies and we all respond differently to comedy. Umm. Oh, BARRY MACKENZIE and DON'S PARTY are great too. Plus I also have a soft spot for KENNY". He gave another snigger and said "Its not hard at all. The answer is easy!" and with that he slammed CROCODILE DUNDEE IN LOS ANGELES in front of me. I raised my eyebrow, gave a nervous laugh and assumed that he was kidding "Ha. Good one" I said. So I scanned the disc onto his account and you'll never guess what happened. A message popped up to alert me that he had already seen the movie. With a quick click I checked his history to see that he had hired the same movie multiple times. He wasn't kidding. He DID think that CROC 3 was the funniest Aussie film of all time. Ha. Either he was mentally handicapped, in which case naaaawww... OR he was simply a twat with taste up his arse! You decide!