The setting: my store
The year: 1997
The characters: me and a scary dude
Remember tape cases? Some looked like briefcases. You could store anywhere from 24 to 60 tapes in one case, which snapped shut with a clasp. Others were double sided, made of nylon, zipped shut, and could hold 120 cassette tapes. At my peak, I owned about 10 cases altogether, different sizes, to hold my cassette collection.
We had phased out tapes completely by 1996. It was a dead format. CD had taken over completely, and our stores were some of the first in the area to go 100% CD. You could still buy tapes downtown at Encore Records, and I occasionally still did. I remember buying Fireball, by Deep Purple, on tape there in 1996, because finding a CD in town was impossible.
One afternoon in ’97, when I was working alone, a big dude walked into the store. Outside of a Tarantino movie, I’d never heard so many “F-bombs” dropped in one conversation. Luckily I was journaling back then and recorded the conversation for posterity.
Big guy: “Hey, where are your cassette boxes?”
Me: “You mean like tape cases, for carrying your tapes around with you?”
Big guy: “Yeah, them fuckin’ things.”
Me: “Uhh…we don’t carry those anymore. We phased out tapes a while ago.”
Big guy: “Fuck. You fuckin’ sure you got nothin’?”
Me: “Yeah, pretty sure. We don’t carry tapes, so we don’t carry tape accessories either.”
Big guy: “Why the fuck don’t you carry tapes? What are people supposed to do who listen to fuckin’ tapes?”
Me: “Well, you could try the mall. I think some of those stores carry tapes. They probably have cases too.”
Big guy: “Think so?”
Me: “It’s worth a try?”
Big guy: “Fuck. I’ll just make one.”
Big guy: “Yeah. Fuck. I’ll just buy some fuckin’ wood. Cut ‘er up nice and build a fuckin’ box for my tapes. Just get some fuckin’ wood, fuckin’ slap ‘er together, and make a fuckin’ tape box of my own. Yeah. That’s what I’ll do.”
Me: “…That sounds like a good idea.”
Big guy: “Fuck, it’ll be easy, I’ll just buy some fuckin’ wood.”
And I never saw him again. True fuckin’ story!