The same things happened more than once, but my old writings from back in the day still survive, and are remarkably detailed. It is for that reason that I can relay to you this delightful day that I had with a guy that I shall dub Grubby.
One afternoon, this grubby looking guy walked into the store with a cardboard box of discs. He was wearing track paints and a stained T-shirt.
“I wanna sell these,” he said.
Glancing at the box, estimating how many were in there, and how long it might take to go through them, I said, “OK, no problem. Give me 20-30 minutes to go through them all.”
“20 or 30 minutes? Why so long? Can’t you just tell me what they’re worth?”
“Not without going through them,” I said. “I have to check them all for quality and then check to see what we have in stock, and what we pay for it.”
“They all sound fine. I listened to them on the way here,” he assured me. Needless to say, I could not accept that at face value, especially when I started looking at them. Many looked like a well-used hockey rink, before the zamboni comes out to resurface the ice!
“What do you think?” he asked me after a few moments.
I was starting to lose my patience. I hadn’t gotten through more than a dozen yet. I said “I don’t know yet. I haven’t even started thinking about pricing yet, I’m still checking out the condition. If you want to look around, I’ll let you know when I’m ready.”
“No, I’m not interested in buying anything. I said they all play.”
“I’m sure that they do. But we have to be sure of that, and we also have visual standards that all our discs have to hold,” I said. I hated the kind of customer that would stand there and watch every move I make! It’s distracting. It really pushed my buttons.
“You can play them if you want,” he answered.
“Well, I don’t have time for that. It would take days to play them all.”
“Well you don’t play them all the way through! You just skip through them!”
Obviously, you can samples bits and pieces of a CD without hearing a single skip, because a skip can be anywhere on the album.
The guy huffed and then finally started looking around. This allowed me to actually check the discs for quality with a careful visual once-over. Then, I arranged them into piles based on that criteria. Some were mint, some not, and some were just hacked. The guy looked around for 5 or 6 minutes and came back. By this time, I was at the computer, pricing the discs. Before I knew it though, Grubby was into my price piles, and re-arranging the discs! He was putting similar things together, but he was mixing up the system I had.
When I saw this, I said, “Oh, can you please leave them in those piles? I had them all organized.”
“What’s this pile?” he asked.
“Those are discs I am passing on. They are all just a little too scratched for us to take, and some are pretty common titles.”
“I already told you they all play fine!” He was raising his voice now.
“I know,” I said, trying to stay patient. “The thing is, all the discs we sell, we try to keep them a certain quality standard. They all have to look as new as possible. These ones are just not good enough for the standards. Sorry…I don’t make up these rules. I know they probably play fine, but you can always try selling them at a pawn shop. They don’t care how a discs looks.”
“Fuck,” he said. “I don’t want to have to go someplace else. I want to get rid of them all right now.”
“At best,” I said, “I think I’ll be able to take a little more then half of these.”
“What?” the guy yelled. “That’s fucked! They’re all fine! They all play fine! This is so fucking stupid.”
“I’m sorry about that, but I’m not done going through them. I might be able to do better. Just give me a little more time. I’m almost ready.”
“Forget it. I want to sell them all, or nothing.” He began packing his discs back into the box.
I hated when this happened, because 7 times out of 10, they’d be back. And because he put the discs away, messing up my system of price piles, if he came back I’d have to look at them all again. Which is what happened. He came back later that evening. Maybe he was hoping somebody else (less picky) would be working, but at least the second time he came in, I didn’t have to explain everything twice. I did however have to explain that I couldn’t remember how I had the discs organized, so I’d have to look at them again.
All told, I probably spent an hour with Grubby that day, buying a bunch of crappy discs that would sit for months.
Yep. Just an average day of a Record Store Guy!