RECORD STORE TALES Part 220: Blackout!
It seems like only last year, but in fact it was 10 years ago today. One of the only times we ever closed the store early was the Great Blackout of 2003. If you lived in, well, North America, you probably remember Blackout 2003.
I recall closing up shop in the mid-afternoon. It was obvious the power wasn’t coming back on, but the phones were working. We got the call to do our best to close up without power, and head home.
For many people, particularly in Toronto, this turned out to be an exceptional evening. People left their homes, went out and socialized. Many went to the beach. Me, I just sat at home and read a book until it was too dark to read. Then I turned in.
I fell asleep quickly, it was so quiet. Suddenly I woke up to the sound of the phone ringing. I reached for my watch, my eyes trying to focus on the glowing hands. 4:30 am. I didn’t know what to think.
On the other end was Brandon “You Are So Punk”, who worked at our Niagara Falls location. That first night, they incredibly still had power, although that wasn’t going to last!
“Man, why are you calling?” I yawned. “It’s 4:30 in the morning.”
Brandon paused. “What are you talking about?”
Frustrated, I answered, “I’m looking at my watch, you’re calling me at 4:30 in the morning!”
Brandon paused again, and answered simply, “Dude. Your watch is upside down. It’s 10:00 pm. I just got home from work.”
The next day, Friday the 15th, the power was restored in the early morning. Still, we weren’t supposed to be open. The government had advised all non-essential businesses to stay closed, and not put additional strain on our fried power grid. Us being so essential, were open (of course). That is until about mid-afternoon when we again had to close, due to rolling blackouts. The shit thing about that was that we were absolutely slammed with people that morning, we were overwhelmed. A lot of them were what I called “tire kickers” — they like to ask you a lot of questions but they don’t buy anything. Since nobody was open except us and a few other “essential” businesses, it was like a holiday for the general public. People brought in used discs by the box load to sell, I kid you not. I went through 300 discs from one guy alone. I had him leave his box behind because it was going to take a couple hours to go through, and then we ended up closing while he was out. He came back a few days later for his cash and unwanted discs (which was most of them).
When people reflect back on the blackout, they usually have fond memories and stories. Not me! I remember shit stories! Oh! And I had to throw out all the meat that I had bought that day before work too, because the fridge had no power. Fuck you, blackouts!