humour

Sunday Chuckle: Fidget Spinner Fail!

So there’s these two guys at work.  You’ve met Herbert before, a big guy with a big heart that everybody loves.  Then there’s another guy, and for the purposes of this story, we’ll call him “Justin Bieber”.

Herbert recently bought a fidget spinner.  They’re all the rage right now.  Meanwhile, Bieber bought a fidget cube.  These are toys for kids who have attention span issues, and studies show they might help.  But now they are trendy for adults of all types too.

Bieber pulled a prank on Herbert, by disabling his fidget spinner.  He saw a picture on the internet and did this:

Fortunately, Bieber unlocked the spinner before Herbert a) got a bolt cutter, and b) dumped Bieber’s backpack in a toilet.  Happy ending!

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Sunday Chuckle: Chicken cocks

Slow week this week.  Jen thought this chicken finger looked more like a cock.  Tee hee.

#571: GUEST SHOT – Record Store Tales – A Different Perspective

Please welcome old friend and new contributor, Aaron.   I have known Aaron since before I was first hired at the Record Store, and he made a cameo appearance in Record Store Tales Part 176:  Trevor the Security Guard.  Aaron is going to be launching his own site really soon and we have planned a few crossovers.  He decided to kick it off with this hilarious memory that I had forgotten all about.  Please enjoy!

GETTING MORE TALE #571:  Record Store Tales – A Different Perspective
Guest shot by Aaron Lebold

I have been enjoying Mike’s Record Store Tales for quite a while now, I have found them particularly enjoyable because I was friends with him when he got this job. The store was initially located in a mediocre mall, and was about the size of a nice walk-in closet. The store has since branched out into a very successful franchise.  I personally feel Mike’s expertise in music played a role in the success of the store, but I like reading them because I remember a lot of the stories, and I may even be mentioned in a couple.

 One of my fondest memories of Mike working at the store, was after it had expanded and added a second location.  Back in those days CDs were worth money, so in turn people had a tendency to steal them, and bring them to Mike’s store to sell.

A woman had gone into the other location, and given Mike’s co-worker a specific list of CDs to look out for, as they had been stolen from her home.  Mike’s co-worker called him at his location to transfer the information, so they could contact the police should someone come in to sell that specific collection of discs.

Mike decided it would be funny if he had me call the other location to try to get a quote for some CDs.  He read me the exact list of CDs that had been reported missing, and instructed me specifically to finalize the phone call with the line “and they’re not stolen either…”

I followed through with Mike’s request, and though I didn’t get much of a reaction from his co-worker, he told me that they called him back and asked him “How much did you pay that kid to do that?”  It was pretty funny at the time, and I will always remember my line.  “And they’re not stolen either…”

Aaron Lebold BMR

#568: Time Traveler

GETTING MORE TALE #568: Time Traveler

Not a pet peeve, exactly, but annoying just the same:  Why did customers ordering CDs often leave a work number as their only contact?  Was this CD such an urgent issue that one had to be notified immediately at work?  I’ve never left a work number as a contact for anything I’ve ever ordered from a store.  Why would I?  Call me at home.  Leave a message if you have to.  Let me know it’s in, and I’ll pick it up.  I won’t make you jump through hoops or speak to my receptionist, just call me.

I would also tend to think that receiving calls at work about something as trivial as a CD might not be the best plan.  “You have a call from a client on 201, and a call from a CD store about the new Sarah McLachlan on 202.”  I don’t know and I still don’t understand.  Leaving a work number was an annoyance to us all.   A couple times, a customer left just a first name and a work number.  Upon calling the number, I was told “We have three people here with that name.”  Great.  Can you put me on the line with the one who listens to Sarah McLachlan?

Then it would really grind my gears when one of the “work number” people would come in and say “I’ve been waiting for a call and you never phoned me.”  Then I’d pull the CD and find the slip inside where it said “left message” and the date.  Of course this could happen at home too, and you could usually tell when a disinterested parent or roommate wasn’t taking down the message.  At least in those cases, you could make a note to do a callback because it didn’t seem like the person was going to get the message.

The most memorable “work number” guy was a fellow that used to come in during 1996-1997.  I’m guessing he was self employed because he seemed to be the only one working at that number.  What I remember most was how he answered the phone:  “Time travel,” he would say.  Ring ring,”Time travel!”  That’s how he answered the phone.  “Ummm, is Greg* there?” we’d ask.  Then he’d act weirded out that somebody called and asked for Greg.  I assume the business was called Time Travel and I have no idea what they did, though we certainly did speculate.  Thus, his nickname at the store became “Time Traveler”.  It didn’t help that he was a bit of an ass and nobody liked dealing with him.  I think that’s why he stopped coming in.  He could sense that nobody liked helping him.

Did he run a travel agency?  Maybe he was building a time machine?  Or better yet, maybe he had combined the two — a time travel agency!  Want to see the Spanish Inquisition?  Book a trip with Time Travel today!…or yesterday!  Ask for Greg.

* not his real name

Sunday Chuckle: Mystery Texts

Ever get text messages from numbers you can’t identify, but you know you know?  Me too!  Just a couple weeks ago I got “mystery texts” from someone bitching about country radio stations.  It was easy to sort out that it came from Tyler, of Tyler and LeBrain fame.  Bitching about country music is kind of his thing.  But the text message below, I have no idea at all…

#566: Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!

GETTING MORE TALE #566: Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!

1998. I had just moved in with the legendary T-Rev. Two Record Store managers under one roof. Can you imagine the CD collections? We used to marvel at the wall of discs. Two CD towers, massive ones, side by side. We’d boast that nowhere else in town would you find two copies of Metallica’s Garage Days in the same place. Same went for many of our rare singles and imports. Finding one was difficult enough, but with our combined collections we often had two. You could come over for a drink and end up spending hours just going through our collections.

Collection samples

T-Rev and I had a lot of fun, although as it turned out, I wasn’t the right guy to have a roommate. I’m a real early to bed, early to rise kind of guy and our wake/sleep cycles didn’t really work out. Having said that, I wouldn’t trade those months for the world! I’d never fallen asleep on the floor before, but we had some pretty epic parties. It was also the first time I’d woken up to find girls in the apartment! Yeah, we had good times. When we weren’t partying, we’d be playing video games on the good old N64. Goldeneye was a staple. Duke Nukem and Top Gear Rally were regular go-to’s.

Another thing we had fun with was our answering machine. We couldn’t just have a normal answering machine message. One weekend, Trevor went out to see a Britpop band who I can’t remember. Supergrass? One of those. They met the manager Andy who kept on hitting on the girlfriends. So Trevor came home and did an answering machine message with a British accent. “You’ve reached Trevor, Michael and Andy! Leave a message after the beep!” That confused a few people. “Who is that British guy who is living with you?”

T-Rev was also a big fan of Jerry Springer. I’d never really watched before, but T-Rev was into it. The fights, the yelling, the chanting of “Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!”…we found it all terribly entertaining. In particular, I liked Jerry’s “final thought”. That’s the part of the show where he somehow simultaneously agrees with all parties on the episode.

Our enjoyment of the chaos of the Jerry Springer show led to a couple tributes.

T-Rev came up with a sign idea, and I wish he was able to put it up in the store. It was a “no shirt no shoes no service” sign that said:

Because highschool is free,
And Jerry Springer does not work here,
Shirts and shoes must be worn in store.

Yeah, shirts and shoes were an ongoing summer issue. When I once asked a guy to put on a shirt, his answer was “Why, are you serving food here?”  I just didn’t want to watch that bead of sweat dripping off his nipple ring.

It only made sense that we should honour the mighty Jerry Springer Show with a new answering machine message. I did it up:

“Thank you for calling the offices of the Jerry Springer Show! If you’re a white trash mother who’s pissed off at your little white trash daughter, press one! If you’re a white trash daughter who can’t stand your bitchy mother, press two! For all others leave a message after the beep!”

People were used to bizarre answering machine messages from us by now.

The best response to it came from the boss at the old Record Store. He called one evening we were out, and left a message asking if one of us could cover a shift. And he ended the message by saying, “Oh, and I’ll take option two. Thank you.” He was a good sport.

Sunday Chuckle: Get Pierced!

I found this crate, pictured below, at work amongst a pile of old tools.  I thought I worked in a steel mill?!  What the heck kind of work do we do around here anyway?!

#559: Hotel Hobbies

GETTING MORE TALE #559: Hotel Hobbies

For a lot of people, the greatest day in their lives is the day they got married. Perhaps it can only be topped by the birth of a child. I don’t have any kids, so for me, the greatest day of my life really is the day I got married: August 31 2008.

I thought it was going to be tough competition though. August 30 2008 was a pretty fun day, so much so that I honestly didn’t think the wedding day itself could top it.

The 30th began early. The wedding was in Mississauga Ontario, an hour’s drive away. My best man Peter picked me up in his silver Camaro kit car, with a Corvette engine. Peter doesn’t own it anymore (it became a money machine) but my God did we have some good times in that car. That thing ran so low it felt like your ass was scraping bottom.

Before checking into the hotel, we had to take part in a bachelor ritual, that being lunch. Wings at Hooters! It was my first and thus far only time at a Hooters and it was pretty much everything I expected it to be. All the clientele inside were male. The waitress took our order with her leg up on our table. The wings were greasy goodness, not the best I’ve ever had, but certainly worth the stop at Hooters. That’s the real reason people go to Hooters, right?

Peter warmed up his GPS and we headed off to the hotel. We didn’t have anything special planned. We wouldn’t need a dinner – the wings and leftover wings took care of that problem. We didn’t need to go and buy anything for the wedding at the last minute. But we did have some work to do.

Peter had a hockey bag with his PS2 in it, and all the accessories needed to play Rock Band: Two guitars, microphone, and drum kit. I brought some of my favourite wedding related movies: Old School, Wedding Crashers and more. We had a fun night planned for when Jen and her maid of honour Lara arrived. We just needed to set it all up.

We hit a snag right away. Those hotels really like to make sure you have to pay for all your entertainment. They don’t want you to be able to bring your own. Remember back in the good old 90s, Peter and I rented a VCR to record American TV shows in a Frankenmuth hotel room? It wasn’t as easy as that anymore.

These new hotel TVs didn’t have any RCA jacks, or anywhere we could plug in the PS2. We sat there baffled, two guys (one an electrician!) who had spent decades hooking stuff up to TV sets, and we didn’t know how to proceed. Admitting defeat was not like Peter.

We needed an RCA to coaxial adapter. Unfortunately finding such a thing on a holiday Sunday in Mississauga wasn’t going to be easy. We began making phone calls: Best Buy, Circuit City, etc. Nobody knew what “RCA to coaxial” meant so we once again warmed up the GPS and headed down Dixie Road looking for stores.

As predicted, Best Buy and Circuit City had nothing, and the staff there looked at us as if we had stepped out of a time machine asking to use their telegraph machine. Our best bet wasn’t going to be one of those big chain stores specializing in HDMI. We ended up finding the adapter (for around $50) at a small mom & pop style tech store, but we did find it! Back in the Camarovette, back to the hotel.

Problem #2: those hotels really, really don’t want you to hook up your own entertainment. We couldn’t easily disconnect the coaxial cable. It had a protective metal sheath on both ends protecting it from tampering. You couldn’t even unplug it. Not without some tools, sweat and effort. I was ready to give up, but as turns out, Peter just doesn’t go anywhere without his tool kit.

He had that cable ripped out in no time and protective sheath removed. Before too long we had beaten the system and were playing PS2 right there in the hotel. Perseverance!

Jen and Lara arrived, as did Jen’s whole family from Ottawa. They all went out to a nice dinner together, but Peter and I were still recovering from our Hooters wings coma so we stayed in. I think Jen’s cousin Joey would rather have been playing Rock Band with us!

When they came back from dinner, our night really began. And it was an absolutely blast. Four best friends in a hotel room with chicken wings and video games and movies. We are simple people with simple needs. Those needs involve pretending to play drums to Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” while someone else pretends to play guitar. Song after song, we had so much fun that night that my sides hurt from laughing.

By the time we all realized we needed to call it a night or be too tired to get married the next day, it was a completely successful evening. I wasn’t at all nervous. I was so hyped that I was strangely calm. I couldn’t wait to get married. No cold feet here, not when I knew so many awesome people had my back. I went to bed that night thinking, “This has truly been the most fun night of my life. There is no way tomorrow can top it.”

Of course, the wedding day did top it. The only thing better than a party for four was a party for 100 of our closest family and friends.

Planning on a road trip involving a hotel stay? Then be like Peter and come prepared. If you can’t hook up your Playstation to a hotel TV like we did, then you might need some tools!

#558: Easter Eggs

GETTING MORE TALE #558: Easter Eggs

“Easter eggs” – Hidden content that you have to really search to find.  Often refers to hidden DVD/Blu-ray bonus features.  The first DVD Easter egg I heard of was on the original “steelbook” version of Terminator 2.  If you go to the right menu and punch in the exact date of Judgment Day, you can access a super-extra-extended version of the film, only visible in this specific way.  Another great DVD Easter egg was on Fellowship of the Ring.  Click around, and you will find a clip from the MTV movie awards where Jack Black has pierced his own wiener with the One Ring.

The term “Easter eggs” is common vocabulary today, and has expanded to include secret cameos or information in films too.  Recent examples:  The appearance of the droid Chopper from Star Wars: Rebels in the new film Rogue One.  Or brief glimpse of Lexcorp trucks, in Man of Steel.  They’re designed not to be immediately noticed, but only detected by die-hard fans after repeat viewings.

The old Record Store has Easter eggs too, so secret that I don’t think anyone who still works there even knows about them.  But they’re still there.

When I first began Record Store Tales, I made a decision to never publicly identify the name of the store.  For that reason, I’ll remain vague.  Back in the olden days when everybody more or less got along, at least two Easter eggs were hidden somewhere on the store website.  They were nods and winks at two employees:  myself, and one other guy who had been there a long time.  They are still there, hidden unless you know where to look.  They were never removed even after both of us left.

There is one more Easter egg, that only two people know about:  Tom (co-founder of Sausagefest) and myself.   Tom owned a franchise at the time.  When he eventually moved on to something else, he asked me to do him a favour.  He wanted to leave his mark in some way on the place.  I can understand that.  Tom, T-Rev, a couple others, and I put our blood, sweat and tears into that store.  It wouldn’t be right to call us “original members” or “founding fathers”, because there was only one owner who started it all.  T-Rev and I weren’t owners, we had no stakes.  It was all just pure passion.  We were there in the very early days as we made the baby steps.  We contributed all our energy to that place, helping to build it and make it grow.  I can’t speak for Tom, but I personally am very proud of that.  Tom pushed to be the first one that carried vinyl.  T-Rev helped actually build the stores, putting up shelving and all the works.  I trained dozens of people and came up with the idea of a store newsletter.  It’s not as if they have a “wall of fame” with our pictures on it.  Tom leaving his mark seems pretty justifiable.

So, he asked me to sneak something in there, and I did.  Tom’s little tribute is still on the website.  Only he and I know where to look.  His franchise was always kickass, and he personally supplied me with plenty of great rock from there, including autographed Helix records, some Foo Fighters singles and a rare live Judas Priest.  He had a 25 cent bin of vinyl that always had good stuff in it.  Let’s all raise our Romulan ale to a true rock and roll animal, the mighty Tom.

#557: Just Joking

GETTING MORE TALE #557: Just Joking

Ever heard a joke that made you almost too uncomfortable to laugh?

In my second year of university, I was in a history class and one of the students missed a previous lesson.  He asked if he could borrow some notes, so my friend Tim offered.  “Thanks!” he responded, and then added jokingly, “Hey, who says white people never help out black people?”  Yes, he was black, and Tim and I were white.  We laughed, but a part of us felt like laughing at that joke was taboo.  It clearly wasn’t, he was obviously just kidding, but it hit that grey area of discomfort.

Here is an example from the Record Store.  One of our regular customers named himself “Richard the Indian”.  Super nice guy, usually easy to deal with.  Loved heavy metal.  He had a native status card proving he’s indigenous and entitling him to a tax discount, but he also absolutely looked it.  He had long straight black hair, and wizened eyes.  Even though he referred to himself as “Richard the Indian”, I didn’t like calling him that to his face.  It didn’t seem “right” to me.  So, he was usually just addressed as “Richard”.

He listened to his music on a CD Discman.  He was always have problems with it, and I saw pieces falling off it once. It was “a piece of junk”, according to him.  “This thing must have been made by Indians!” he joked, playing on the stereotype that all Indians are drunk and lazy.

Do you laugh?  I let out a slight uncomfortable chuckle.  Some of the staff felt uncomfortable too.  “I know he’s just kidding, but it makes me feel weird when he makes Indian jokes,” someone told me.  “I feel like I should laugh, but also shouldn’t.”

The ins and outs of retail are labyrinthine.  There have been jokes that flat-out were not funny.  One guy thought he was hilarious with this joke:  Q: What does Marvin Gaye have in common with one of his records?  A: They’re both black and have a hole in the middle.  That joke got no laughs because it wasn’t funny at all.  In other situations, I have laughed and then realized too late that the customer wasn’t joking.

So what do you do?  If you work in retail, when in doubt, don’t laugh.  Do not.  At worst you’ll appear humourless, at best you’ll avoid the wrong reaction!