Issue 6 Contents


The Fuckin' Clerk

I thought after HelLOA, a nice uncomplicated job at the video rental store would be great. Sure the pay sucks, but what's cooler than sitting around all day watching movies? These fuckin' people own 5 stores in the state, all with identical computer systems running identical software which is just crying out to be linked up. Do they hook 'em up? Nope. Some customer from another store comes in, ya gotta open a new membership. Opening new members isn't nice and easy like at blockbuster. They can't just go fill out the form and bring it over... noooo, WE gotta fill out that fucker, then type it into the computer after we do. Where was I? Oh yea, the computers. Because nothing's hooked up, we've gotta get the figures from each day to the office somehow... modem would be good, fax would suffice even, considering we print them out after closing. Either one? Nope. We've gotta copy all the numbers off the nice computer report to some custom (and outdated) form, recalculate the totals (as if the computer can't be trusted or some shit) and then call them in to the answering machine at the office, where the next morning a secretary will have to sit in front of the fucking thing for two hours trying to decipher our speed-reading of the numbers. And half the time the piece of shit machine doesn't even pick up anyway, then whoever works in the morning has to call them in, probably talking to the owner, which is an even more painful experience than talking to the machine.

The owners are probably on the top of the list of reasons why the job sucks. He's a 5-foot-2 stuck-up pain-in-the-ass who obsesses about the small stones stuck in the metal plate at the bottom of the entrance door as if people are walking by on a daily basis saying "Oh my god, look at all those stones... there's no way we're renting here!" About a month ago, they put a 10-foot banner outside the front window that said "Video Rentals." I guess that's for those dipshits who thought we were selling insurance. She's at least as bad, if only because she only works for the company because she married the fucking owner. She drives around to the stores in her red jag screwing up whatever she can get her hands on. She'll hang out at the store all fucking day, either talking to the employees so we can't get anything done or telling us stupid shit to do, adding to the shit that we can't get done because she won't shut the fuck up. Add her serious lack of a personality to the fact that she thinks she has one and all the other shit and you've got a serious target for gang violence.

The uniform's not bad: white shirt, black pants, cheezy nametag. Beginning of the summer they really wanted to change it to red polo shirt, khaki shorts, sandals, and -- get this -- knee socks. Fortunately the company's so fucking backwards that it takes them a year-and-a-half to implement new policy so summer was over before they tried to force the issue. We were planning a mutiny within three minutes of hearing this plan, so it wouldn't have come to fruition anyway.

The job itself is the only thing I haven't mentioned. You might think the watching movies all day is cool, but don't get your hopes up -- the rest of the job sucks too. All the movies have barcodes on them, but all the code scanners broke years ago and the fucking cheap-assed owners refuse to buy new ones. So we're stuck typing in 6-digit numbers for every movie going out or coming back. Apart from my numeric-keypad speed increasing dramatically, that sucks. When movies come up late, the fees are added to the customer's account and it prints a sales slip saying so. The fee's in the computer, you'd think we could just trash the slips or even dump them in a pile somewhere. Nope, we have to file the motherfuckers in little boxes in case some asshole customer wants to bitch that he owes 3.50. We can pull out the little slip because they don't believe the computer. Even after they pay the things, half the time they still insist that it was a computer glitch... they'll never understand that computers don't arbitrarily give people late charges. When computers do things whimsically, it's generally alot more malicious than that.

It never fails that when the other person you're working with goes on break every citizen in every immediately-surrounding town will show up to rent movies. They will all show up at the same time, then all decide that it's time to head to the register at the same time, then every fourth person in line will need to open a membership. Every other new membership the person will not have the proper identification and will stand there for ten minutes arguing with you because he can't rent a video with his Stop & Shop Scan Saver card and a Macy's Charge. Just about every third person in the line (which by now stretches roughly to the fast food place where the other fuckin' clerk is currently having dinner) will spend anywhere from ten to twenty minutes debating their 3.50 or, god forbid, 7.00 late charge (the ones who owe 15+ usually pay up right away though... go figure). And right in the middle of the whole thing, the phone always rings. Sometimes it rings on both lines at once. It's never "I'd like to cancel my reservation" or "what time do you close tonight?" Nope, it's always "Can you tell me what new movies you have in?" And when they find out there's crap out this week or all the good stuff is gone already, they always want you to recap the past two-months of new releases to them, as if you don't have anything better to do. All the while you're doing this, people are coming in and dropping late movies in the bin at the counter. Two days later they'll come in to find they have a late charge and say "well, I put it in the bin on-time, that guy must have let it sit there until it was late."

At least I get to watch movies though, right? Nope. On those rare occasions when the store's dead enough that I can actually watch a movie, it can't be rated higher than PG-13, and even then we have to watch out for "excessive" language. I work 20-30 hours a week. That's about 10-15 movies a week (at about 2 hrs each). I've worked there for like 9 months now. 4 weeks a month times 9 months is 36 weeks times 10 movies is 360 movies I've sat through a minimum of 360 movies. Go to the video store and try to find 360 movies rated less than R that you'd like to see. Say we watch each one twice, that's 180 movies you need to pick. Go ahead, try it. I've seen the same fucking two-dozen movies over and over so many times that I'd rather just turn the fucking TVs off than watch another run of The Fugitive (which I used to like, by the way).

When it's dead, we do fuck around though. We've played basketball with balls of tape and popcorn-bucket baskets, ran football plays against the cardboard standees, blown up video rewinders by doubling the power (it went really fast until it blew up), and probably some other assorted fun. We figure out how to crack open CD and Playstation security cases with paperclips (surprisingly easy), print reports of the top 10 rented adult tapes... you know, the usual fun video stuff. Basically, we have a lot of fun when the store's empty. This job'd be great if it weren't for the fucking customers...

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