So, for a whole lot of reasons I won’t go into, today kinda sucked. Like, crying-at-my-desk-after-getting-off-the-phone, oh-look-another-invoice sucked. There were also some good bits! I feel obliged to point this out, primarily because I feel guilty about scaring the work experience girl by telling her that the most important skill she could have post school was knowing how to work a photocopier. So I phoned Toby in the middle of the day and established that, in order to compensate for the aforementioned suckness (which had also afflicted him), I would bring home the final two disks of Avatar: The Last Airbender, because not only is it awesome, but it’s so good that the narrative actually has the power to redeem the suckitude of everyday humanity. Being as how I work in Port Melbourne and getting to the city of an evening by bike is problematic, I rang the only local store known to stock the series for sale, viz: Blockbuster Video.
Now, for those of you who’ve been living in a hole, Blockbuster is primarily a DVD rental store. However! The Blockbuster in Port Melbourne dedicates an easy 50% of its floorspace to the sale of games and movies. Given my lack of a membership there, this has always ensured that I think of it as a place to buy things, rather than rent them. So when I rang up at lunchtime and asked if they had discs 3 and 4 of Season 3 of Avatar, and they said they’d reserve them under my name, it never occurred to me that they would, by default, assume I was after rental DVDs – especially as the sales dude never asked if I wanted to buy or rent, as is traditionally the case with every other movie store on the planet.
So, having endured a stressful day, I cycled out of my way and walked up to the counter to collect my purchases, only to find that, yes, they had reserved the rentals for me. Distressed, I explained the error and walked over to their For Sale section, where I found disc 4, but not disc 3. On asking at the counter whether or not they might have a 3 lurking elsewhere, I was told no. At that point, I sort of lost it. I’d had a hard day, and the only thing that had kept me going since lunchtime was the thought of watching something good when I got home. On the brink of tears, I dropped the disc 4 I’d picked up and rushed back outside to my bike, where I lurked for a minute or so until I’d calmed down. Then, hat in hand, I went back inside and asked whether or not I might be able to rent the DVDs in question.
Now: the reason I hadn’t considered this as an alternative straight away is simple. I can’t drive, and therefore have no valid photo ID, which is necessary in Australia to sign up with any DVD rental store. My only photo ID is my passport, which – of course – was at home. I told the guy this, but at his request, was able to produce an official document I had stuffed in my bag with my name and our current address on it. In a move that was clearly motivated by my obvious ditress, he even let me hand over expired photo ID in lieu of the valid sort, allowing me to sign up with the store.
All documents signed, I rummaged around in my wallet to pay – only to realise I didn’t have the $3.50 in change the transaction required. The ever-compassionate clerk explained that, if I wanted to pay by card, the store had a $5 minimum charge. Happily, one of the items prominently displayed at the counter was a small, metal tin of lollies in the shape of a Mario Bros 1-up mushroom. Together with the two DVDs, the cost was now eight dollars. I handed over my card, and the charge went through.
As he handed the DVDs to me, the clerk took it upon himself to explain when they were due back.
‘Disc 4 is a new release,’ he said. ‘You need to return it tomorrow.’
I stared at him.
‘Any time before 10pm is fine,’ he added.
‘But I won’t get to it tonight. I’m not up to it yet. I’ve got a whole other disc to watch first,’ I said, pointing to disc 3. ‘If you’d told me beforehand that it was an overnight rental, I would’ve just bought the disc 4 you’ve got here along with the disc 3 rental.’ A pause. ‘Can we do that, then? I know you’ve just put it through, but can we change it?’
The glare he glared at me could’ve melted glaciers.
I have worked as a waitress. I have even been one of those quasi-annoying students who stands on a street corner and tries to get random strangers to sign up to World Vision knockoff charities. I don’t like to be a difficult customer, because I appreciate the suckness of low-wage jobs. But I really felt like I’d been dicked around: admittedly, I hadn’t specified that I wanted to buy during the original phone call, but the guy on the other end – and I was pretty sure he was the same guy who ended up serving me – hadn’t asked which type of disc I wanted; he’d also waited until after the transaction went through to point out when the DVDs were due back, which, as a new customer, and given also that I hadn’t even held the cases until he pushed them across the counter, I couldn’t possibly have known beforehand. So even though he was clearly pissed off at the extra effort, and even though I still felt guilty, I had him go back on the computer, remove the charge for the second disc, then ring up the cost of buying it instead.
‘Do you want to keep the mushroom candy?’ he asked.
I looked at the mushroom. It grinned at me.
‘Why not?’ I said. And then, in an effort to ameliorate my being an annoying customer, I explained that I’d had a shit day, and that I was sorry for taking up his time, but that I’d really just been looking forward to watching something good when I got home; and to his credit, he didn’t seem entirely unmoved, although he did simlutaneously appear fed up with dealing with me, for which I can’t really blame him.
Half an hour later, I finally exited Blockbuster with one rental and one purchased DVD in hand. The former has now been watched in its entirety, and will be returned forthwith. The other remains dormant, until tomorrow.
And the mushroom? Contained sour apple candy. It was delicious.
Also, the container is just awesome.
So I guess it worked out OK, after all.