While deleting old emails, I discovered two unreleased Record Store Tales written almost five years ago. I don’t know why they were never finished, so here’s one of ’em! The original draft was written June 28 2012.
GETTING MORE TALE #538: Just Eat It
To paraphrase Ricky, sometimes working in a record store is not all “peaches and cake”.
We did have cake sometimes. Grand openings, special occasions. The only peaches I ever saw were on Presidents of the USA albums.
Trying to eat lunch at work was an issue. We had a rule: No eating at the counter. Nobody wants to come into a store seeing somebody scarfing down a burger, drooling mayo all over their chin. But, sometimes you had very little choice. Like when you were working alone. This is how I got into the habit of not eating lunch anymore. I used to make sandwiches and then not have a chance to enjoy my lunch, because I was working alone and constantly getting interrupted. Oakville was the worst store for this.
Oakville was nice in one way, which was there was a Lick’s in the plaza (and a liquor store, which helped make things bearable after arriving home). So you’d go across and get a burger and fries. I liked my Lick’s burgers with sautéed onions (or “funky onions” as Jen calls them). I’d often be working with a trainee but still able able to sneak to the back room for a minute to inhale some fries. However, Oakville was a busy store for buying used stock – and I was the only buyer there. The trainees weren’t up to speed yet. So there would be this constant stream of bags and boxes coming in, and no time to eat. It often took me an hour or more to finish one soggy burger and some cold, dry fries.
Not to mention you’d be an idiot not to wash your hands repeatedly after handling the customers’ discs! The cases were often coated in a dry, smokey layer of crime. Sometimes you could smell the cigarettes. Sometimes the actual paper cover inside the case was stained yellowy-brown. In other cases, the discs were sticky with God knows what. (Dried soda? Food? Bodily fluids?) But you still had to handle them!
I’m told that one time a CD came in with what looked like semen on it, but I wasn’t witness to that.
One time early in my career, a guy brought in a box of discs where every single case was coated in a soapy, dry white coating. I felt gross just touching them. I passed on the box for that reason. Then he took them to another store to get a second opinion (they always did) and my boss took them. He gave me shit – “Why didn’t you take these discs?” Well, because I haven’t had my shots yet this year.
This is how I kind of got into the bad habit of eating candy bars and pepperoni for lunch. Stuff that came in nice wrappers so I didn’t have to handle the food with my hands. Stuff with zero nutritional value. I’m not a germophobe, but when you can’t eat a sandwich because you’re constantly handling disgusting discs and washing your hands, eventually you kind of get sick of even trying.
So, when people ask me, “What’s it like, working in a record store?” I always like to give them the truth. And the truth is, it’s not all peaches and cake!