Friday, November 28, 2008

Siren Sale

I used to work at . . . let's just say it's called "Big Summer Movie Release," but that was a long time ago . . . let's just say that in my interview the manager was very impressed that I'd heard of this new "DVD" thing.

You learn lessons from working retail, the most prominent of which is "don't ever work retail," with its corollaries "go to college so you don't have to work retail" and "be patient and understanding with people who work retail."

But some of the lessons are less obvious, like the one I learned when my store got a big shipment of "previously viewed" VHS tapes. I wondered for a long time why these tapes couldn't be sold at the stores they came from. After enough of them got returned, I realized that these were "Frankenstein" tapes. The company would take all the rental tapes that came back damaged, cut out the faulty section, and splice two or three tapes into one so they could sell it. And that's why those tapes, the ones with generic covers, were always really cheap.

And people like cheap, a lot. They like it so much, apparently, that they will open two sealed, unmarked cardboard boxes that are sitting out in the middle of a store, purely on the chance that the tapes inside will be discounted. Upon finding those tapes to be $3-5, they will then proceed to rummage through the boxes, buying stacks of ten tapes at a time.

I knew, on that day, that I was learning something important about the human race, but I wasn't sure what. Something about greed? Perhaps. The temptation of things that are easy and quick? Likely. But as I walked around in my local, gasping, coughing Circuit City, watching the vultures circle it, I realized that it has more to do with Tyler Durden and his resonant statement about "a generation working jobs we hate, so we can by sh*t we don't need."

*I decided to write this well before anyone died. :Sigh:

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