GETTING MORE TALE #732: Where the Hell Am I?
What is the most important information to possess when you’re shopping? Is it your shopping list? Is it money?
No friends, that is not what matters most. What you need to know most of all is where the hell you actually are.
I was working at the Record Store in the late 90s. We had big red gift certificates in different denominations. They had our logo printed on them. You could use them at any of our locations. They were pretty standard gift certificates, like any other store might have. Today virtually everybody has switched to magnetic gift cards instead, which undoubtedly saves on paper.
A family came in one afternoon looking to spend. They had over a hundred dollars in gift certificates. Enough for the whole family to enjoy. Collectively they had numerous questions, but were courteous and friendly. I spent roughly an hour with them, helping them find songs and retrieving CDs for them to listen to. They narrowed down their pile of CDs to the discs they wanted most. Then we got to the checkout counter.
I made sure each case had the right CD inside, and I made sure each one was clean. I rang them up and told them the total, when the man handed me a little blue HMV gift certificate.
My heart sank.
“This isn’t us, this is for HMV,” I informed the man.
“This isn’t HMV?” He was stunned!
No! This isn’t HMV! Didn’t you notice all our massive signage? Also, all our CDs are used! When was the last time you saw a used CD at an HMV store? My mind was screaming all of these things silently as the man.
What bugged me the most wasn’t all the wasted time on these people, it was that he was actually angry! Angry at who? If it were me, I’d be super embarrassed but I sure as hell wouldn’t be angry. I would also be sure to buy something — anything — to make up for all the time the store spent on me. This guy escorted his family out, leaving all the discs with me at the counter.
I’m sure the boss man was thrilled when I told him this story, and how effective all our store signage was!
Now a story of my own, but without the temper tantrum.
As many of you know, my friend Jason and I collect Transformers. There are not really any decent toy stores in Kitchener. We have a Toys R Us and an EB Games. Up in Waterloo, there’s a good store called J&J’s, but they don’t carry Transformers. (I did, however, buy up their GI Joes.) Cambridge is the place to be for toy shopping.
I took a day off work to go toy shopping with Jay. First we hit a place called The Toy Society, which is an excellent store for vintage action figures. A little bit of every genre. It’s hard to leave without spending money. But Jay and I had a specific goal that day, which was to check out our friend Dan’s new store.
Dan owns B&K Collectables, which if you collect Pops, is now the place to go to get ’em. He also carries vintage G1 and new Masterpiece Transformers. His prices are high but when I buy a vintage figure from him, I know it’s complete and in working condition. He’s never let me down, and I have scored several rare boxed G1 figures from him over the years. He used to sell by mail, but in 2016 he opened an actual storefront, in a shared space with a computer store.
Jay and I hadn’t been there yet, and so partially planned this day to check out Dan’s store. We knew roughly where it was, on Queen Street down by Len’s Mill Store. We parked and started looking.
“This must be it,” said Jay as we entered a toy store.
We looked and took it all in. There was a guy working near the back.
“BIG DAN!” shouted Jay.
The guy turned around. He was big but he was not Dan.
“Did Dan hire someone?” I whispered to Jay.
“Sorry, is Dan around?” said Jay to the started toy store guy.
“No,” he answered simply, but probably confused.
“OK, thanks,” we said as we looked around for a bit. The store was cool but he didn’t have any Transformers. We had to be in the wrong place. Turns out, it was a store called Playin’ Around. B&K Collectables was still a few more doors down!
Once we found Dan, we had a laugh at our embarrassment. As usual, his assortment of vintage figures was impressive. I had my eyes on a complete G2 Megatron, but Jay was more excited about G1 Blitzwing.
“Holy shit you have Blitzwing!” said an excited Jay. A customer over in the computer half of the store was amused by his excitement. “I can’t believe you have a G1 Blitzwing, is he complete?”
The computer customer walked over. “OK, I have to see what a G1 Blitzwing is, if it’s this exciting.”
Jay explained to him, “He’s a triple changer! He changes into a plane AND a tank.”
“Ahh,” said the guy.
You have to have fun with shit. Here I am with Jay, two guys in their 40s buying toys in the hundreds of dollars. The computer guy thinks we’re nuts. We also walked into a store and accidentally scared a guy by yelling “BIG DAN!” It’s funny. The guy with the HMV gift certificate could have made that experience so much better for everybody if he just saw the humour in it (and bought something for all my efforts).
Don’t be angry. If you’re a dumb shit, just own it and laugh it off. Ponoby’s nerfect, nam.