retail

#890: Top Ten Most Annoying Things About Listening Stations

A sequel to #444:  “Can I Listen to This?”

RECORD STORE TALES #890: Top Ten Most Annoying Things About Listening Stations

Although it seems like dystopian fiction now, there was once a time when if you wanted to sample an album before you bought it, the best way was going to a store and asking to listen to it.

I imagine even today, people walk up to the counter at Ye Olde Record Store and ask to hear something before they buy it.  I am certain the demand is not like it once was.  We used to have six individual listening stations.  Granted, we were lucky if three or four worked at any given time, but when we first opened, we had six brand new players.  And they were busy.  On a Saturday, all six would be in use at once.  With a couple more people lined up waiting to jump in when one was vacated.

Here’s how it worked.  Pay attention, because some people just didn’t get it.

It’s actually pretty simple.  You just look around the store, grab a few CDs you want to listen to, and bring the cases to me to load them up.  All the discs were kept safely behind the counter.  All I had to do was load them up, and lay them out for you to hear.

All our players were five disc changers.  I would load up the first five of your selections, and lay down the cases on the counter.  “This is the order they are in the player.”  Then I would give them a quick run-through on the remote control.  Play, skip, stop, skip disc…I would ask them to ignore the rest of the buttons.

Annoying Thing #1:  People who don’t listen.

“Sir!  This player isn’t working.”

Because you ignored my instructions and hit the “program” button.  Now you’re in program mode.  Let’s get out of that, and just press play this time.

Annoying Thing #2:  People who help themselves.

There was nothing more startling than finding a customer behind the counter with you!  These people think the listening stations are like self-serve gas stations.  They’d go behind the counter and start looking for the CDs to load up themselves.  I’m really not sure what possesses people to think they can do that.  There’s a counter.  It has a front and a back.  We used to have a divider chain, but it ripped out years before.

Annoying Thing #3:  Using the remote to open the tray. 

You don’t need to open the tray.  You’re not helping by hitting the “open” button.  More than once, I was picking discs that were stored beneath the CD players.  I stood up, and “CRASH!”  Right into the now-open tray of a CD player.  Thanks for that.  I’ve definitely had them open up on me while I was walking past, too.

Annoying Thing #4:  Audiophiles.

Quoting a prior chapter:

“These headphones suck.  I can’t hear the nuances in the music.”  That was a real complaint.  Since there wasn’t much I could do about it, I explained that the listening stations were there just so you could hear a song and decide if you liked it or not.  Not much thought was given to hearing the nuances.  But this guy insisted he couldn’t tell if he liked a song without the “nuances”, so no sale was made.

Yes the headphones sucked, mostly from years of use.  Another issue is that all the headphones were run through a little tiny volume box that was custom made for us.  This volume control was the real problem.  Knobs went staticky, came right off… Maybe it wasn’t the audiophiles that were the problem, maybe it was the shitty volume knobs.

Annoying Thing #5:  Gross remote controls.

I think I cleaned those things every day.  I don’t know what people are walking around with on their hands, but those remotes got disgusting.  The listening stations were always solidly disinfected from headphones to remotes, but they somehow felt…gross to the touch.

Annoying Thing #6:  “Is there a way to plug in two headphones?  My friend wants to listen.”

No!  Stop asking!  Yes, it would be “cool” if we could do it.  The single-output volume boxes were bad enough.  Imagine putting two in there.

Annoying Thing #7:  Singers.

Yes, sometimes, people sang along.  It wasn’t frequent.  Other customers would turn and look.  Usually you’d just ignore it.  Only twice did I have to cut someone off for singing too loud.  Once was two girls singing “This shit is bananas!” along with Gwen Stefani.  Another was an angry kid who, quite frankly, was starting to scare me.

Annoying Thing #8:  Kids treated them like toys.  

Young kids get bored in music stores.  Trust me on this.  Some liked to climb on top of the stools, grab the remote control, and…you guessed it…open and close the trays.  They’d just mash their fingers on a remote and yell “HOW DOES THIS WOOOOORK?”

I wish I was making this stuff up, I really was.

Sometimes, mom or dad would ask me to put on a kids’ CD for them to listen to, to keep them occupied.  That I was happy to do.  As long as they didn’t play with the remotes, or God forbid, put them in their mouths.

Annoying Thing #9:  High maintenance listeners.

Sometimes you had to help people skip tracks.  You could even show them on the remote where the button is, and they’d still need help.  “Which disc am I listening to now?”  Well, it says disc 2 on the display, and I put the cases down here in order, so that would be Garth Brooks.  “Well it doesn’t sound like him!”  And that’s because you picked his Chris Gaines album.

Annoying Thing #10:  No limits.

You could come to the counter with 25 discs, and I had no choice but to let you listen to them all if you wanted to.  And you could take as much time doing so as you liked.  Some gentlemen (often fans of jazz or electronica or both, but always men) spent an entire morning glued to a listening station.  They only moved to go and look for more discs to listen to.

I won’t lie to you, listening station service was hard work when you have a guy like that in the store while you’re busy.  It takes time to retrieve all those CDs from behind the counter.  It takes time to file them back when you’re done.  And then I still have to re-file the cases out for display.  For you it’s one easy step — just pick the discs you want to listen to.  For me, it’s three steps.  Get the CD from its specific location, put the CD back when you’re done, and re-file the case.

Some customers thought they were being helpful by re-filing the cases for me.  All that did was create more difficulty, because now I had to look each one up in the computer to see where the CD itself is supposed to go.  And that wasn’t always easy.  You know, sometimes there are CDs out there with nothing to identify the artist or title.  At all.  And after serving the guy 25 discs, you’re not gonna remember what it was.


There are other miscellaneous things that used to bug me.  People who would treat you like a servant.  Working as a listening station jockey for an afternoon was a pretty thankless job.  Of course there are exceptions.  The exceptions aren’t the memories that stick in your head for 25 years!

 

 

 

#882: The Day KK Came Back

RECORD STORE TALES #882: The Day KK Came Back

Working retail means you can’t control who you see on a day-to-day basis.  Faces from the past are part of the job.  Teachers, old neighbours, bullies, and so on.  Sometimes it’s not a face you really cared to see again.  For example, there was this one kid named Terry Moulton from grade school.  He was known as a burnout even in grade eight.  The word in class is that he would skip to go and smoke pot with his dad.  One day I was working and who should show up to sell me some used CDs but Terry.  He recognized me.  I’m not so good with faces from the that long ago, but I remembered the name.  I made him a generous offer on the discs, and asked for his ID.  We had to ask for ID in order to buy anything used from the public.  Part of theft prevention.  Of course Terry didn’t have any ID so I skipped that part for him as a favour.  I asked for his address and he didn’t even have a fixed address.  I broke a few bi-laws by buying discs from him that day.

My journal records another encounter with a forgotten face from the Catholic school days.

Kevin Kirby’s name was ingrained in my memory even if I didn’t recognize his face.  Kirby was into metal when none of the other kids were.  He had Black Sabbath, Van Halen and Ozzy records thanks to an older sister.  He was my “friend” I guess.  Friends by circumstance, not by choice?  Frenemies?  He copied my homework.  He pushed me around.  He made fun of me.  Once he picked on me, and I fought back, so he cried to his mom about it.  His mom called the school.

According to my journal the last time I saw him was in 2004.


Date: 2004/08/04

An interesting day, thus far.

A couple assholes, but not many in general.

Saw Jessica, waved hello.*

Then a dude with a mullet came in. Bought a CD. Asked if I remembered him. He knew my name. Kevin Kirby it was…guy who used to pick on me in grade eight. Nice to see ya, pal.


He might have been into good music, but he was a prick to me in our last year of school together.  Don’t care if I ever see him again.

 

Yours Truly

* Jessica was Money Mart Girl who I had a crush on.  

 

#881: The Return of the Record Store Tales

RECORD STORE TALES #881: The Return of the Record Store Tales

A minor announcement, but an announcement nonetheless!  As of this chapter, for all of my stories going forward, I have decided to retire the name Getting More Tale.  I am returning to the original moniker of Record Store Tales.

It’s really always intended to be considered one body of work.

One of the most important parts of the original Record Store Tales was the “ending” — quitting the store in Part 320.  That series of events was one I was really anxious to tell, so when the time felt right, I got it done and wrapped Record Store Tales up in a lil’ bow.  I then broadened the scope of my stories with the “sequel” series Getting More Tale (title suggested by Aaron of the KMA).

Getting More Tale has often dipped back into the Record Store days for subject matter, as well as childhood, and the 15 years since I quit.  I’ve also told stories about technology and historic records.  The sky was the limit when I changed the name to Getting More Tale…but I have always identified as a “Record Store guy”.  Even if it has been 15 years since I last worked behind a counter…once a Record Store guy, always a Record Store guy.

The 12 years I spent in the store were 12 of the defining years of my life, from the highest highs to the lowest lows.  But to quote a song, “It’s My Life” and calling the whole she-bang “Record Store Tales” feels right.  Even if roughly half the stories have nothing to do with working in a store, “you are what you is”.  Today I may be a guy who works in the steel industry, but I will always be a guy who managed a Record Store, and proud of it!

So there you have it; the lines shall no longer be blurred.  The ongoing story of Mike LeBrain, former Record Store manager, obsessive music collector and all-around open book, shall henceforce be known once more as the Record Store Tales.*

The content is not changing one iota.  I have the next 10 chapters locked and loaded, with subject matter covering the whole gamut.  Childhood musical flashbacks, working behind the counter in the glory years, school daze, old tech, bad dates, toys, and maybe even some controversy.  I continue to be excited to bring you stories that you seem to enjoy!  It has been been over six years since I “wrapped up” Record Store Tales.  There was backlash to the ending.  But that only emboldened me.  My writing has improved ten-fold since.  I’m proud to fly the flag of Record Store Tales again.

Thanks for reading all these years!  It has been an organic experience and for nine years you have been an integral part of it.  Let’s go forward, shall we?

To be continued….

* I won’t be going back and re-naming anything, I will just be carrying on the numbering system will the title Record Store Tales.  

#879: Advertising & the Pennysaver

GETTING MORE TALE #879: Advertising & the Pennysaver

The Record Store didn’t do oodles of advertising.  We had a limited budget.  We usually ran ads in the Pennysaver, a free weekly ad paper.  Their rep with us was a super ducky guy named Dana McMullen.  He was a sharp dresser with a talent for layout.  We got along immediately because he was a Queensryche fan.  It was always amusing to me how you could run into fellow rock fans almost anywhere.  Dana didn’t look like a metal head.  His hair and suits were meticulous.   But he loved his Queensryche.  We were both pretty fond of 1994’s Promised Land.

We opened the store that I first managed in 1996.  It was a dry period for Queensryche, but then in ’97 came Hear in the Now Frontier.  I was disappointed with it, and told Dana as much, but he bought it like any loyal fan would.  He was a good guy.

Dana left the Pennysaver shortly after, and we had a new rep.  I can’t remember her name, just that she always called me “Dude”, which I hated.  (The part of working retail that isn’t in the manual is that you have to get used to people calling you “Dude”, “Chief”, and “Bud”.)  Advertising with the new rep wasn’t as smooth as it was with Dana. I remember she messed up some important details on a few of our ads.  One day she was meeting with the Boss Man about these mistakes and she left in tears.  Yikes!  I didn’t get a “See ya Dude!” from her that day.

I know from making in-store signage that the Boss was hard to please.  In 1994, I was green and just started.  The first display I ever made, he hated.  It was a simple enough job.  We got free posters from the record companies all the time, but the Boss didn’t want plain old posters taped to the walls.  He wanted them framed.  One night he left me with the job to frame some of the free posters we got.  The only issue was that the large posters didn’t fit the medium sized frames, so you had to chop them up and make them fit.  He assigned me to frame a Jann Arden poster for her second album Living Under June.  It was such a huge image of Jann that I couldn’t just trim the edges and make it fit.  It was a vertical poster but he wanted the frame horizontal.  I had to chop it into pieces and have the picture of Jann on one side and the name and album title on the other.  The boss hated it and made sure I knew it.  He couldn’t tell me what he wanted it to look like, just that what I made wasn’t it.  Fortunately we hired T-Rev shortly after and he was much more artistically inclined.  I was relieved of my sign making duties.

I’m sure when he looks at my site now, the Boss must still think my graphic skills still suck because they haven’t changed much!

We expanded to radio ads.  I hated our jingle, but I remember early conversations with the radio people that could have taken us in another direction.  Although he had a tiny office in the back, it wasn’t really good for meetings, so the Boss would have a lot of his meetings in the store.  I was there when one radio guru pitched his ad concept.

“It’s Beavis and Butt-head see, and they go, ‘Hey Butt-Head, heh heh, where should we sell these awesome used CDs?’”

The boss wasn’t into that one.  “I think Beavis and Butt-Head are a little passé,” he asserted.

He might have been right, but I didn’t agree with that; the Beavis and Butt-Head movie was only a year old.  Their voices were recognizable.  The Boss just didn’t like them.  My only contention was that I could do better Beavis and Butt-Head voices than the radio guru.  We didn’t need him!

While I didn’t always enjoy having these meetings going on in my workspace, and having to work around these people, it was fun listening in.  Sometimes the Boss would ask afterwards what I thought of the pitch.

Later on, after we started expanding and (in my opinion) losing our path a bit, the Boss hired an expensive marketing expert.  I didn’t care for her ideas.  I remember he sent us one of her proposals and it just lost me.  We were supposed to read it and offer our feedback.  I thought we were a music store, and here’s this marketing proposal with all these empty buzzwords in it.   Words like “synergy”.   It felt like a huge disconnect between upper management and working on the floor.   The business was simple – we bought CDs from the public, and we sold them back to the public.  Now we’re spending money on marketing while I have to wait weeks just to get paid my mileage cheques.

Having said all this, take it with a grain of salt.  He’s still in business and this year will be celebrating his 30th anniversary.  He must be doing something right.

 

#874: Impossible to Display

A sequel to Getting More Tale #795:  A Case for Security

GETTING MORE TALE #874: Impossible to Display

Shoplifting accounts for over a third of inventory shrinkage in retail.*  At the Record Store we had numerous strategies to combat this, as discussed in prior chapters.  An alert staff can stop a staggering amount of theft, but the last line of defence for us was a magnetic security tag system.  Trying to lift a de-tagged item would set off alarms at the store.

Cassettes, one of of our lower-cost items compared with CDs and box sets, were protected with a single magnetic strip hidden on the seam on the shrink wrap.  These had to be de-tagged magnetically with a device — they were single use only and the tag left the store with the product after being disarmed.  Each tag cost five cents, and that added up.  Higher-cost box sets were protected with multiple tags hidden on the edges of the packaging.  CDs, which also carried significant cost but were the majority of our store, were protected by a double-edged sword.  They were housed in an unbreakable and re-usable plastic longbox, with the magnetic tag stuck to an inner edge.  These tags never had to be disarmed.  You just removed the security case with a special key and set it aside for re-use on fresh inventory.

Cassettes were checked weekly to re-secure loose tags.  We kept a close eye on everything and everyone.  Combined with good practices, the security gate at the front of the store prevented a lot of theft.  Still, there were certain items that were unfortunately hard to both a) protect properly and b) display properly at the same time.  Unusual packaging made some albums difficult to stock on the shelves with the rest of the catalogue.

December 6, 1994:  Pearl Jam – Vitalogy compact disc

Although we weren’t equipped to display records, we had no problems when Vitalogy was released on vinyl November 22, 1994.  We sold the five copies we stocked on the first day.  It was the CD release two weeks later that caused us grief because we ordered those en masse.

The CD release of Vitalogy came ensconced in a miniature cardboard book-shaped package.  It had the same dimensions as a normal CD case, just flipped upright on its short side.  You could put them in a CD security box no problem, but T-Rev discovered a weakness in its design.  Because it was thinner and more flexible than a standcard CD case, you could with a little effort force it out of the security box without unlocking it.  This meant we couldn’t safely stock it out on the shelves.

Instead, the boss man set up a small box under close watchful eye at the front counter.  He placed the Vitalogy CDs in it, with every fifth copy turned 45 degrees so he could easily count how many were in there at any given time.  If he knew that he had 20 copies in the box, but suddenly only counted 19, then he would see if anyone in the store was carrying one around to purchase it.  Eventually we just put it back in the security cases, assuming nobody would be as inventive as T-Rev in trying to get one out.

May 29, 1995:  Pink Floyd – p·u·l·s·e compact disc with flashing light diode.

The original CD release of Pink Floyd’s p·u·l·s·e had a unique gimmick.  The oversized cardboard shell contained the 2 CD album in a book-style case, plus a flashing light gimmick powered by two AA batteries in a hidden compartment.  When the CD was reissued without the light and space-consuming batteries, it could fit in a standard size CD security box.  However the full-on, limited edition original was too large to be stored in our shelving.  Once again we had to put them at the front counter, this time stacked in a pile.

What I remember most about the “pile of p·u·l·s·e” is that flashing light.  However many copies were in that heap at the front counter, the lights flashed incessantly.  You could not turn them off.  Once you purchased the CD, you could remove the batteries from the inside.  Safe in their shrinkwrap on our countertop, they just flashed and flashed away.  Never in synch.  No two copies were ever in synch.  I guess it might have depended on how much juice was still in those batteries.  Copies of p·u·l·s·e flashed for years without a battery change.

June 20, 1995:  Michael Jackson – HIStory double cassette in cardboard sleeve

Although cassettes were being slowly phased out, we still had to carry certain big releases on the format.  In 1995, Michael Jackson still sold impressive numbers.  Enough that we carried one cassette copy, which once again, was packaged in such a way that we couldn’t display it on our cassette shelves.  Unlike other doubles, which sometimes came in a “fat” double cassette case (like Phantom of the Opera) or two normal cases packed together (like The Song Remains the Same), Michael Jackson’s HIStory came with the two tapes face up, side by side, in a cardboard box.  It was dimensioned like no tape shelving system known to man.

Too cumbersome to take up valuable front counter space, HIStory was deigned be displayed without fanfare on a shelf behind the desk.  To buy a copy of HIStory on cassette from us, there were only two paths to a sale:

  1. The customer would have to notice it behind the counter when purchasing other items, and ask for it.
  2. The customer would have to ask if we carried it, and not everyone asks.

My solution was clever.  I had just acquired a computer program that enabled me to create perfectly formatted cassette J-cards for my tape collection.  I used it to print a sleeve that said “MICHAEL JACKSON – HISTORY – 2 CASSETTE SET – ASK AT COUNTER”.  I put that in an empty tape case, and filed it with the rest of the Michael Jackson cassettes.  It took forever but it must have sold eventually!  I don’t know if I was responsible because it didn’t happen on my shift.

We had a cramped little space and we made the best of it.  Given that we were constantly battling for every square inch, any time an artist came out with something that was impossible to display, it created a unique little headache for us!

 

* The other 2/3rds are largely staff theft and errors.

Sunday Chuckle: I think this duck used to be one of my customers at the Record Store

I just heard about this kids’ song that is popular in certain age groups. It’s catchy, but I can’t say that I like the lead character too much. He’s a duck that keeps pestering the clerk at a lemonade stand with the same question day after day and not buying anything. I swear to God I used to see him at the Record Store.

#866: Untitled ’94

GETTING MORE TALE #866: Untitled ’94

I didn’t go to the cottage at all in 1994.  I was busy with school, then in the summer met a girl, and finally got a job at the Record Store.  That was all the distraction I needed to stay home.  Girls trumped trees and water.  Priorities!

The first summer at the Record Store was a brand new world for me.  New faces, new names, new music.  Lots and lots of cleaning.  “If there’s time to lean, there’s time to clean!” went the saying.  A lot of the job was tedious.  Wednesday was “tape check day”.  From A to Z we had to check every cassette in the store and make sure the magnetic security strip was firmly attached.  If it wasn’t, we’d get some scotch tape and secure that sucker.  My hands always felt so grungy after a day of tape checking.

There was always filing to do, and new stock to price.  When we sold a tape or CD, we had to know to re-order them.  How was this accomplished?  Tapes had a little clear plastic sticker on the back.  It had the artist, title and record label written on it.  When we sold a tape, we had to file these stickers in a photo album, sorted by record label.  Then when the boss was ready to order more stock, he’d flip through the photo album and read the stickers.  When we re-stocked the tapes, we had to put the clear sticker back on.  CDs were similar except they were in clear bags with the info written on them.  The bags were used to re-order discs.

When something new was released, we had to make the stickers and bags for those items too.  I remember when T-Rev was hired, he used to leave special releases for me to do the tags and bags for.  Kiss Unplugged he specifically left for me, because it was the first Kiss album released during my tenure at the store.  The first of many.  I drew the Kiss logo on the tag and smiled.  Small things like that meant something to me, though after waiting so long for a new Kiss album, it was quite anti-climactic.

We had also started selling used CDs.  Some of the first I acquired with my staff discount were Sven Gali’s debut and Chronicles by Rush.  Weirdly, I was still buying a lot of cassettes.  Kim Mitchell’s brand new one Itch got the staff discount treatment.

In the early days the boss used to give us weekly homework.  We had to come in with a current top 10 list every week.  This was to ensure that we were familiar with the current hits that people would be asking for.  T-Rev did his homework; I did not.  I felt like I already knew it all.  Before I started at the store, I used to keep on top of “everything the kids were listening to”.  I guess the boss recognized that since he didn’t bug me for my homework every week.

I was glad to have this job at the Record Store when in late ’94 my relationship blew up in my face.  I compensated by throwing myself into the store.  I came in early every day so I could review all the new stock.  Business was fairly slow most nights.  We were not in a high-traffic mall.  We had our regulars and we had our time-wasters.  The drunks from the restaurant next door were interesting.  Some of them even spent money!  None of them were problems, just time wasters.  “Tire kickers” as I call them now.  Then there were a couple notable janitors.  Trevor Atkinson from highschool was one.  I wonder what ever happened to that guy?  He was certainly a time waster.  It’s my theory that he was the cause of the first customer complaint I ever received.

Working in that Record Store was pretty much my whole social life.  I didn’t know anybody at school anymore.  Through the store, I reconnected with highschool and neighborhood friends that dropped by to shop.  Guys like George Balasz and Scott Peddle.  The boss didn’t like his employees to socialize at work, but what could you do?  It was the local Record Store and I was working in it.  I knew lots of people.  He socialized far more than I did, but he was “the boss” so nobody could give him shit for it.  When one of his friends was in the store, he’d chat it up and get me to take care of everyone else.  “Do as I say, not as I do” was another one of his famous demoralizing sayings.

But it was a good job.  The boss used to say he was “firm but fair”.  For the first few years that was true.  For a retail job it was pretty good.  We got to listen to music during the shift and we felt like part of a team.  It was a special place during a special time.  I’m glad I was there before we grew, because that’s when things changed for the worse, from an employment point of view.  But for that brief period in the beginning, the Record Store was a part of my identity.  I’m still really proud of everything that we did there as a team.  I may be critical of some things, but I’m proud of being there on the ground floor when things were about to take off.

The Author Reads series – Record Store Tales Part 7: A S****y Story

Since starting the Facebook Live streams, I thought maybe doing a reading of some of my own stories would be fun. The reaction was mixed but some of the comments are below.

Comments:

  • “I thought this stream would be about music but it is about poop and toilet paper. Pleasant surprise.” – Buried on Mars
  • “Story time with Bum Face?…This is gonna be a long stream.” – Uncle Meat
  • “The greatest story ever!!” – Chris

The live stream went down as only live streams could, spontaneously and hilariously.  I tried re-recording the reading to get better quality but that was impossible.  The only solution is to use the original live stream reading from the night of April 3 2020.  Since that was done on live video, you get the video of it as well as a bonus.

Please enjoy the slightly edited reading below!

RECORD STORE TALES Part 7:  A Shitty Story

 

Read the original text story below by clicking here!

* Pardon the mirrored video.  Still trying to fix that.
** The Starfleet captain’s uniform is me trying to come with different shirts each week.

#825: Klassic Kwote – Carnival of Souls

GETTING MORE TALE #825:  Klassic Kwote – Carnival of Souls

 

We were encouraged to put stickers on CDs to draw attention to them at the Record Store.  When Kiss’ Carnival of Souls was released in 1997, I put a sticker on there that read “FINAL ALBUM WITH BRUCE & ERIC”.  Because why not.  Other stores did things like that.  Stickers are fun.  Bosses didn’t like my stickers, but I was the store manager and I wanted to make stickers.

A dude picked up the CD and asked me, “What does this mean?  Final album with Bruce and Eric?”

I didn’t know how to respond so I simply answered, “It’s the final album with Bruce & Eric.”

“Oh OK,” he said and put it down.

Ask a stupid question?

 

 

#824: “I’m Outta Here!”

GETTING MORE TALE #824:  “I’m Outta Here!”

A sequel to Part 287:  Closing Time

Name one person who doesn’t love closing down for the day.  Work completed, clock ticks 9:00 pm, and the doors are locked.  Time to go eat some dinner and unwind.  At the Record Store, we got paid until 9:15 pm, the approximate amount of time it would take to cash out and close.  Sometimes we could do it in 10 minutes, sometimes far longer.  It was always considered a victory if you could completely close out in 10 minutes, and get paid for 15.  Small triumphs.

My favourite location to close was the original mall store at Stanley Park.  It was probably my favourite for closing because I was working alone.  Closing a store by yourself gives you a greater sense of responsibility.  Plus you could listen to whatever (metal) you wanted.

Listen, I don’t care where you work, everybody wants to go home and get refueled.  It’s a basic right.  Once you stop getting paid, you’re a free human being again.

There was one occasion at the mall I’ll never forget.  I was closing up normally and had just returned from the bank to drop off the night deposit.  I shut down the lights, packed up my stuff and locked the door.  As I was heading to the parking lot to meet my dad who was picking me up, I spied a group of three or four kids down the hall heading to the store, arms loaded with CDs to sell.  Just loaded — the group must have had 100 discs altogether.  I stealthily sneaked out of the mall via a seldom-used side entrance, hopefully unseen.

Close call!  The last thing I wanted was to have my dinner delayed by a group of kids needing last minute (booze) money after closing time.

This kind of thing still bugs me.  When I’m out shopping I’m very conscious of closing time.  I’m not going to get some sales rep to perform handstands just before closing, and definitely not after!  Some kids don’t know any better, but they should.  Didn’t they have their own part time jobs that they didn’t like to stay late for?  Did they get paid extra if they had to stay late?  We didn’t.

I was glad to say “I’m outta here!” at closing time even if there were still people wanting to come in.  Maybe we could have made more money if we did stay open, but none of it would be coming my way.