Life in a rental store: a night in my own personal hell

If you worked here, you'd hate your life by now.

You are all aware that I work in a rental store. You are also all aware that I'm not to fond of it there. It's an easy enough job, and I really am quite lucky to have such a stress-free part-time job ... I'm just not cut out for customer service, I suppose. I'm too impatient with morons. It's the customers, it really is. Anyway, I whine quite a bit about my job and never really explain why to you folks. So, to give you a glimpse into my own personal hell, I present to you a typical Friday night at Hollywood Video.

4:55 - I get to work. I'm in a relatively good mood, but I still dread the coming hours. I face the night with optimism ... but my heart holds little hope for a pleasurable shift.

5:00 - I clock in. I'm officially being paid to get yelled at by irate customers. My manager informs me that I'm in for a crappy night. I believe him without hesitation.

5:04 - I open up a till. I am now taking money from people who hate everything about their lives and utilize every waking moment in being jerks about it. My first customer is standoffish, grumpy and rude. He doesn't say a word, hands me his membership card impatiently and pays without looking at me. He leaves in a hurry and leaves me smiling stupidly, trying my best to stay in a good mood but ultimately failing.

5:58 - The after-work rush dies down. My manager sends two people home early to save on labor. This mistake will come back to haunt us.

6:24 - A clumsy child on roller shoes knocks over a DVD display and neglects to inform anyone.

6:26 - The air-conditioning breaks. I spend the remainder of the night sweating profusely as the store's temperature climbs into the low 200s.

6:35 - I take a call from a man who informs me that he stepped on a DVD and broke it in half and doesn't intend to pay for it. I field the issue and tell him to call the manager in the morning.

6:47 - The store is relatively empty, so I chill a bit and enjoy a nice lean on the counter. My break will be short-lived.

7:00 - The whole population of South Hill decides they desperately need a copy of "Night at the Museum" and rush with due haste to Hollywood Video. We, a rag-tag team of helpless customer service reps, are hit with an unprecedented rush. The line stretches to the back of the store and doesn't let up for a good hour.

7:47 - We run out of copies of all the new releases. Chaos ensues.

7:58 - A frustrated mother begins to berate me over the inadequate supply of "Happy Feet." Her five children cry shrilly around her and ask repeatedly if they can have some candy. A migraine begins to develop at the base of my skull. My spirit is nearly broken.

8:02 - The rush begins to die down. A large, ape-like man who may or may not be the missing link asks if we stock any Fullscreen copies of "The Marine." I lose all hope in humanity and spiral into a deep depression.

8:26 - A middle-aged woman angrily returns "Volver" and requests a refund because she wasn't aware it was in Spanish. I contemplate strangling her, but ultimately restrain myself. She gets her refund.

8:47 - A dirty man who smells heavily of cheap cigarettes and liquor stumbles in and knocks over a VHS display.

8:55 - A woman refuses to pay her late fees, protesting adamantly that she never rented the movies. I don't believe her, mostly because I've rented most of them out to her. She still refuses, and I refer her to the manager. She leaves in a huff.

9:00 - I realize there is still three hours until close and consider suicide.

9:15 - I take a half-hour lunch. Shutting myself in the back office, I enjoy a few moments of quiet among the candy and soda. I call my girlfriend, my family, talk to anyone who can help me take my mind off the ravenous customers outside, all clambering for that last copy of "Because I Said So." I spend the last ten minutes of my break weeping quietly.

9:45 - I clock back on.

9:54 - A group of teenage girls in pajamas approach me while I shelf movies. They giggle incessantly, flirt endlessly and never shut up. They ask me to recommend them a "hella scary movie." I suggest "The Shining," to which they respond with, "Ew, isn't that old?" After I recommend "28 Days Later," they defer and opt for "Dead and Breakfast," explaining to me that "the cover looks really creepy." I mentally wish death upon them.

10:21 - It's quiet now. A few customers mill about. I pop in a movie, "Raiders of the Lost Ark," and attempt to better my mood.

10:45 - A few more drunk guys filter in from the bar down the road and roam the new release wall, talking loudly and crudely. I sigh and turn up the volume on "Raiders."

11:00 - The dead hour. A few calls come in about late movies, but the day is almost over. I start on the wall. I must straighten and balance each and every row of DVDs on the new release wall, which is a long and arduous process that requires an excruciating strain on the back.

11:56 - I count down my till and prepare for close.

12:00 - We lock the doors. I breathe a sigh of relief.

12:30 - I leave the store none too soon and run to my car. I put in some Led Zeppelin, breath in the fresh, chill night air and drive home. Just another Friday night at Hollywood Video.


  1. Your description of the girls - particularly your reaction to them, reminds me of Severus Snape. Not in the evil, sadistic Snape way, but in the "I sort of pity Severus Snape and his reactions to some students are warranted" kind of way.

    I imagine you looking down your nose in contempt at them. That's probably where the thought comes from.

    P.S.: it's almost over. :D

  2. As I was reading this I got hit with this creepy sensation of de ja vu. It was at about the part where the angry mom wanted Happy Feet; twas creepy. I contemplated if you had written this before and I had read it before...which is utterly impossible cause you didn't work at H.wood video in HS...


    Very funny. I sympathize for your agony. But hey, it could be worse. I'm a waitress and whenever the food is slow coming out (cause we're a full house) they blame us. "Excuse me, but shouldn't you be um...like cooking our food or something?"

    Me: "...no...I'm a server. I SERVE the food."

    Yah, and when they bring their annoying kids, there's always some crushed crayons, squished mac n cheese on the seats, and a pasta stain on the wall.

    You're hell isn't as bad as my hell. (This is my sad attempt at relating to you and making you feel better.) =D

  3. A real shame they didn't select "The Shining" as you advised. You just cannot beat the cinematic sequence of the bigwheel rolling down the halls with the alternating sound of it rolling on the carpet and hardwood floors.


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