Part 255: ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

Here we are on the 24th.  Have you done all your shopping?  Bought all the wine and food?  Then settle in for the last update before Christmas.  I always take a break from posting at this time, so check back in a few days and I’ll have fresh content again for you soon.  Enjoy this Record Store Tale, and best wishes!

RECORD STORE TALES Part 255: ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

December 24th.  One of our busiest days of the year.  Not the busiest though – that would often fall on the last Saturday before Christmas, on the 23rd, or our annual Boxing Day sale on the 26th.  Nearly two months of buildup and hard work, and it’s all over in what feels like a blink!

The 24th could sometimes be a fun day to work.  Not all customers were your typical cranky shopper, although we certainly saw those too.  Many of our Christmas Eve customers were simply killing time.  Some were spending their Christmas money a little bit early.  Some didn’t care what day it was, particularly those who came in to sell CDs for cash.

Yes, many people did come in to sell even on Christmas Eve.  A few were looking for credit to buy gifts, some were just looking for money to buy a Christmas dime bag.  Either way it was always a busy day, and we were kept moving on our feet.  Many dollars exchanged hands on the 24th.

I recall Christmas music was in such demand that a few years I was left with 4 or 5 Christmas CDs left in stock.  Often these would be the ones that always sat, year after year, unwanted, unsold.  As a person who’s never liked Christmas music, I could never understand the NEED to have it, just to listen to it once a year.  To me, that’s what the radio was for.  But I wasn’t there to try to analyze the wants and desires of the people.  My job was to sell them whatever crap we had left.

The 24th was a messy day.  Usually you could count on snow getting tracked in on the carpets (which were only cleaned a few weeks prior – why??).  Also, most customers could not seem to put discs back where they found them.  This was a combination of poor shelf design, customers who didn’t give a shit, parents that don’t watch their children as they tear the store apart, and people who didn’t know the alphabet.  Discs would be everywhere by the end of it all, scattered hither and yon, with no rhyme or reason as to why they were left there.

I always wore a suit and tie on Christmas Eve.  This was a tradition begun by the boss and owner in the early 1990’s, but I was the only one who carried on this tradition.  The first time we did the suits T-Rev said, “I like it, it makes me feel important!”  People do treat you a little differently when you’re wearing a tie.

After all the rushes of customers died down, we’d start hanging the signs in preparation for the big Boxing Day sale on the 26th.  Buy 3 Get 1 Free!  Or something like that.  Not good with any other special offers though, so people would have something to bitch about.  “Why can’t you stamp my card too?”  Etc. etc.

One year (’96 or ’97) after close at 6 pm, the boss told me to stay late and help him hang these signs.  They were big banners for our Boxing Day sale.  He climbed a ladder to clip these huge hanging signs from the ceiling.  I was there on the floor in my tie trying to hold the sign aloft as he worked.  Then he dropped a clip to the ground and we couldn’t see where it landed.  And apparently we didn’t have any spares.

On hands and knees I searched and searched.  We even got out a flashlight to try to find the damned thing.  No luck!  Meanwhile the clock ticked and ticked.  6:30.  6:45.  7:00.  The parking lot outside was quickly resembling a frozen ghost town, as people raced home to begin their own festivities.

Just as I found the damn clip on the ground, the phone rang.  Normally I wouldn’t answer the phone this late after close on Christmas Eve, but my boss answered, and it was my mom.

“When are you sending my son home to enjoy his Christmas Eve dinner with his family?” she chided.

“Oh I’m sorry Mrs. Ladano!” my boss responded.  “We’re almost done.  You’ll have him soon.”

I think if my mom hadn’t called, we would have been there all night hanging those stupid signs!

At home there was plenty of hot food to enjoy, as I let my body relax after a long day of serious hard work.  Thankfully I did not have to work Boxing Day, probably the longest most tiring day of the whole year.  I therefore had two whole days to relax, watch movies, and spend time with the family.

On that note, I wish all of you a Merry  Christmas.  Whether you celebrate the holiday or not, be safe and warm this season.  And most important I hope you all make it home on time and don’t have to stay late hanging signs!




    1. I am 100% sure that happened, and maybe you did have some wine. But without that wine, maybe you wouldn’t have called, and if you didn’t call then maybe I would still be trying to hang that damned sign!


      1. I am quite sure that I would not have called without the wine, so thanks to a glass or two or three of white wine you got to come home.


  1. Customer service, man. I could never handle it. Kudos to you for maintaining a good attitude and not letting it turn you against all human interaction forever as it probably would me. Best wishes for a wonderful Christmas!


  2. Merry Xmas Mike!!!
    Like u as well I’m on day 4 off from work as well and don’t have to return til jan 6th!
    All the best too u and the mrs!
    Now today at some point I will have to put on my all time fav Xmas albums!
    And what would that be u say???
    So the story goes is I got that release Xmas of 81 and for some reason every yr around this time I just put it on and chill!
    Sorry no Bing Crosby for this boy!
    Just Geddy singing the Trees!

    Take care!


    1. That’s awesome Deke, and what a great live album to choose. There’s even a star somewhere on the artwork isn’t there!

      Best wishes to you, enjoy your holiday…I will be sure to update you guys on the annual music haul!


  3. Happy Christmas to you too Mike – man I’ve been so busy, I’ve not even looked at my own blog for weeks, let alone anyone elses. Real life just gets in the way!


    1. Cheers 1537, I know it’s been quiet on your blog lately and I figured you’d be busy at this time of year. So Merry Merry one and do check in because I hope to post galleries of New Musical Goodness! Assuming I get any New Musical Goodness. Mrs. LeBrain is a pretty good wife though…she won’t let me down!


      1. Oh,I know,ay.After I posted that I
        looked at the pic & I said to myself
        that is plastic,not rubber!
        All the best to you & yours also &
        I think I will call you Mike in the
        New Year.OK with you?


        1. I haven’t, I’m one to procrastinate. Haha! But I might do a short one in my list of favourites in 2013. If you liked Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, chances are you’ll find equal charm (and humour of course!) in this one. I thought it was a little more heartfelt too.


        2. I do love both those movies. Anything Pegg/Frost automatically gets added to my collection no matter what.

          Hot Fuzz was a bit darker and I don’t watch it as often, but it is still brilliant.

          Actually Jade I have a zombie movie review coming tomorrow (I think) — a low budget Canadian film starring Billy Connolly called Fido.


        3. Yes! More Team Cornetto :) Are you a fan of Spaced? I’ve been meaning to watch that for a while.

          I don’t think I’ve seen Fido but well, I’m always up for a zombie flick. Looking forward to your review, Mike!


    1. One year, I’m cashing out, we have money all over the table counting, and this lady is banging on the door to be let in. “But we know exactly what we want!” Yeah, but I got some chicken to get in me!


      1. lmao, hilarious! I was always respectful, though. The store is closed? Too bad for me! You guys got a life outside that place too!

        (Can you tell I’m working my way down my WP reader? It’s been a few days since I’ve done any reading…trying to catch up! ;))


  4. I remember Christmas in retail. Suuuuuuuuck. SUUUUUUUCCCKKKKKK. Glad you got outta there, man.

    My wife and I have a rule: if it ain’t bought for Christmas by December 1, it ain’t getting bought. Unless, after that date, it can come from Amazon (and, thus, right to our front door). We do not go ANYWHERE near the crowds. Ever. Not just because we have two toddlers and taking them shopping turns an honest 20 minutes into a two hour ordeal. No, we stay way the hell away from all the desperate people. It’s so nasty. I want nothing to do with it.


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