Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Conversations from the Video Store, Part VI

Conversations recorded for posterity while working at Hollywood Video in 2001.

Aaron and Tyler continue to work off their sins at the video counter, this time on a Friday night. A woman comes up to Aaron with a stack of child-related videos.

AARON: Okay, that comes to $18.95.

WOMAN: What?

AARON: Well, they are all new releases, ma'am.

WOMAN: I thought kids rentals were free.

AARON (knowing full well that lady customers of a certain age find the term "ma'am" condescending and unwelcome): No, ma'am, that's only on certain videos already in the kids library section. That doesn't apply to new releases.

WOMAN: Oh. I just didn't think they would cost so much.

AARON (attempting to joke): Costs a lot to spoil your kids these days.

WOMAN: What are you inferring? That I let my kids tell me what to do.

AARON: No; I can honestly say that I was not inferring anything.

The woman hands Aaron a twenty.

WOMAN: You know how it goes. Kids have a three-day weekend, and they have nothing to do on that extra day off. You remember that, don't you?

AARON: I used to go outside and play with my friends.

WOMAN: Oh, they play--they just like to play at home. Didn't your mom used to just let you hang out.

AARON (wondering if this woman is so lame that she actually considers "watching a video" the same thing as "playing"): No, she was too busy teaching me how to read.

WOMAN: You know, I don't appreciate your tone. I think I'm going to go to Blockbuster from now on.

AARON: Do what you must, ma'am.

WOMAN: You don't even care that you just lost a customer?

AARON: Hey, lady, I just work here.

WOMAN: Well, I'm sure your manager will care.

AARON: Then you don't know him.

WOMAN: I'm never giving you my business again.

She starts to storm out.

AARON: Ma'am? Want your change?

She takes her $1.05 and walks out, set in her principles and with her evening nicely ruined by not getting some video store guy's approval of her lazy parenting.

TYLER: You know, every single customer I've ever heard say that comes back in here and pretends like nothing happened.

AARON: Yeah, me too. If only people had convictions, think of how quiet it would be.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Conversations from the Video Store, Part V

Conversations recorded for posterity while working at Hollywood Video in 2001.

Aaron and Tyler continue to deal with a small but steady stream of customers.

CUSTOMER: I forgot my card; can I just give you my phone number?

AARON: Sure.

Customer gives a phone number that I wrote down all those years ago, but will not include here even though it's the number of an evil, evil man and he deserves the crank calls but I don't want to get sued.

AARON: Reaves?


AARON: $5.78.

Customer pays and leaves.

TYLER: Don't know why we bother handing out the damn cards, most people don't have them.

AARON: I never even ask for them anymore. Now it irritates me more when I just ask for the phone number and they say, "Oh, I have my card," and then make me wait for them to pull it out. These are the same inconvenient people who wait until they stop at the tollbooth to find the change.

TYLER: My favorite is when a high schooler comes in saying he forgot his card, then gives you the number and it's their mom's card.

A second customer comes up, this time going to Tyler's register.

TYLER: Hi, how are you today?

CUSTOMER 2: 555-3169.

TYLER: That's a complicated way to feel.

CUSTOMER 2 (obviously surprised that the clerk is not, in fact, a robot, and will seek to inconvenience him with conversation, no matter how brief): What?

TYLER: Just kidding, sir. That'll be $3.98.

CUSTOMER 2: I only have a hundred dollar bill. Is that alright?

TYLER (deep sigh, wondering what it would be like to feel the man's neck grinding to a pulp in his hands): I'll have to go in the back and get change. Can you wait a moment?

CUSTOMER 2 (stiff, apparently inconvenienced even further that Hollywood Video is not, in fact, a bank): Sure.

Tyler asks Aaron for the key and heads back into the office. Once in the office, he closes the door behind him, then sits down in the office chair and opens the safe. Exchanging the hundred dollar bill for five twenties, he closes the door. Then he sits down and grabs one of the Diet Pepsi bottles out of inventory, taking a huge swig and relaxing in the chair.

Meanwhile, at the front, the customer is clearly aggravated and keeps checking his watch. Aaron decides to ignore him and starts checking in videos from the inside drop.

CUSTOMER 2 (EXTREMELY annoyed): How long does it take?

AARON: I'm sure he'll be right out.

CUSTOMER 2 (to himself): Should've just paid with a five...

Aaron rolls his eyes to himself, feels the bile rise for the twentieth time that night, and walks off to check the amaray inventory, lest he become overwhelmed with hatred and jump and the man and literally suck his eyes out of his skull.

Finally, Tyler (Diet Pepsi finished) returns with the change.

TYLER: Sorry about that, sir. Here's eighty, and your change is $16.02. Sixteen dollars and two cents. Out of a hundred.

CUSTOMER 2: Took long enough.

TYLER (shit-eating grin): Have a nice one; movies are due in five days.

The customer drops his two pennies into the charity jar and walks out of the store.

TYLER: Fucking pig. Think you can spare the two pennies for the kids with cancer, you dick?

Aaron is suddenly distracted by movement in the parking lot.

AARON: Hey, look, more skate-fucks.

Skateboarders are congregating, as they usually do, underneath the "NO SKATE BOARDING" sign, laughing like idiots and trying out moves that they never, ever, not one time manage to complete. Like usual skate-fucks, they have made no concession to aerodynamics and what we know about speed and wind resistance, and are wearing flannel shirts and baggy cargo pants that go past their feet.

TYLER: God, they suck. Suburban kids are the worst skaters.

AARON: Man, I remember when skateboarding was so fucking popular in the eighties that we had police officers come to school and give speeches about how dangerous they're supposed to be. They told us this story about how some dude accidentally went under a truck on his board and got killed. And then the cop gets all grave and says: "The name of the skateboard? The Executioner. Think about what that means."

TYLER: Oh, Jesus.

AARON: So, of course, being a smartass, I asked if it was called that because riders wanted to "execute" moves. He didn't like that.

They giggle at the skate-fucks some more, especially when one almost gets hit by some soccer mom in her Ford Explorer.

AARON: So, skateboarding was so close to being a dorky thing of the past, and then the X-Games get all huge, and Tony Hawker stars in a hundred video games, and everyone thinks they're Z Boys. And now kids are out in full force, inflicting life-long crippling injuries on themselves in a pathetic attempt to duplicate moves that are really only possible in a video game.

TYLER: Yep. Sure is funny to watch, though.

AARON: Oh, yeah.

They watch one kid try to spin his board and fall on his back. They both laugh.

TYLER: It's Tony Hawk, not Hawker.

AARON: I know, I just figure "Hawker" is more appropriate for a total sell-out.

TYLER: Today kids only want to sell out. Hey, you ever watch Real TV?

AARON: Oh, yeah. Lots of horrible injuries on that show. I once saw snowboarders going down a hill without snow.

TYLER: What?

AARON: It was the dead heat of summer, and these assholes decided to tape themselves... dirtboarding, I guess.

TYLER: Dirtboarded their way straight to the hospital.

AARON: Hey, if they don't have the sense their mothers tried to smack into the backs of their heads when she caught them jumping off the garage roof, they deserve to have skin grafts on thier skinny skate-fuck legs.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Conversations from the Video Store, Part IV

Conversations recorded for posterity while working at Hollywood Video in 2001.

Aaron and a fellow clerk, Tyler, deal with the light Tuesday night business (Tuesday is the day new releases hit, but only an occasional customer comes up to rent something).

Aaron rings up a customer, tells him when his movie is due, gives him his change and puts the video on the other side of the counter.

AARON: Have a nice day.

The customer walks out.

AARON: Asshole.

TYLER: I try not to be that polite.

AARON: Rude fuck. Has common courtesy really degenerated that much? Maybe I don't know because I was raised to be polite.

TYLER: What did you say that Dennis Miller said about common sense?

AARON: That they drew a chalk outline around it and most people can't identify the body. You know, all I said was "have a nice day." Fucking prick can't say it back? Even if he doesn't mean it?

TYLER: Nope. Too cool for school.

AARON: He paid with a twenty, anyway.

TYLER: For a $1.99 rental?

AARON: People think we're a fucking bank.

TYLER: Hey, it's Naperville. People want to show how lousy with money they are. They get twenties from the ATM, and they break them here. And I've seen guys with two singles give me twenties, pretending like that's all they have because they can't go to the bank right in the parking lot and get change. It would somehow make him less of a man to give me two dollars.

AARON: They don't think, they're just zombies on Automatic Rental mode. Because if they don't rent a shitty movie, what else are they going to do: talk to their wives? Actually be parents?

Another customer walks over to the counter.

AARON: Hello.

CUSTOMER 2: What came out today?

Aaron burns softly.

TYLER: Battlefield Earth, Coyote Ugly, and The Kid.

CUSTOMER 2: Are they any good?

TYLER: They're three of the worst movies I've ever seen in my life.

CUSTOMER 2: Are they on the new release wall?

TYLER: It is where the new releases go, sir.

CUSTOMER 2: Thanks.

The customer scampers off to look for his shitty movies.

TYLER: Think he'll get just one, or all three?

AARON: No matter what you say, they don't care. Why do they even ask?

TYLER: As long as it's new, they're not interested. They just have to see it to keep up with everyone else. God forbid somebody rent something from the Classics section.

AARON: You could have told him that Coyote Ugly made your penis fall off, he'd still be renting it.

TYLER: It almost did...

AARON: You pathetic fuck.

Customer 2 comes back to the counter with all three of the shitty movies. Tyler rings up his choices.

TYLER: That'll be $11.37.

Customer 2 hands Tyler a twenty.

TYLER (rolling his eyes): Of course...

CUSTOMER 2: I think I have a couple of pennies.

TYLER: Well, that should make all the difference in the world.

Customer 2 looks up, wondering if he should be offended.

TYLER: Just kidding, sir.

CUSTOMER 2 (smiling like a dumbass): Gotcha, pal.

TYLER: $8.65 is your change. Have a good one.

CUSTOMER 2: Sure. (He grabs his videos and leaves.)

TYLER: Because I really give a shit if you do...

AARON: "Just kidding, sir."

TYLER: Please, people love to be insulted. They eat it up. It makes them feel special that you're noticing them. Just act like you're kidding, and people laugh out pieces of lung. It's a basic rule of stand up comedy: insult people and pretend you don't mean it. Like Don Rickles, except he's a pussy because he grovels for apology.

AARON: I guess we can consider Casino penance for years of shitty comedy and outdated stereotypes.

TYLER: He was pretty badass in that movie. Still, too little too late.

Paging Dr. Asshole. Dr. Smug Asshole, Please Answer the White Courtesy Phone and Shove It Up Your Ass

Wow, is Tom Cruise a smug asshole these days, or what? Jumping on couches, preaching the gospel of Hubbard, dating children young enough to be his own, and generally acting like an overgrown child. He is exhibiting the sort of behavior that would seem overboard on an average episode of Scooby Doo, much less in real life. And, like all assholes, he thinks he's merely being charming. Charming and important.

How would you like to be this guy's kid? What kind of example is this for your life? I'd be on drugs just to piss this guy off.

But I'm kind of glad for this irritant, if only because it's showing people what a fucking sham Scientology is. Really, if you wanted a spokesperson for your religion, would you want it to be Tom Cruise? He's supposed to be promoting a movie, but instead he's on some sort of ill-conceived goodwill mission to America on behalf of the "Church" of Scientology. And he's making them look like even bigger assholes than Battlefield Earth did.

It's as hilarious as it is frustrating.

In the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, some poor dope (Benjamin Svetkey) tries to get Tom to settle down and account for himself. Here's some of the choice quotes.

On Katie Holmes:
"I have to tell you, this kind of happiness hits you like nothing else."
Translation: The "Church" of Scientology has finally cured me of my queer tendencies, and I'm high on trying too hard to look like it.

On his ex-wives:
"I wish them all happiness. I wish them this kind of happiness."
Translation: Mimi and Nicole mean so little to me that I have no problem speaking of them in so high-handed and cavalier a manner that it should make any woman think twice about dating me.

On rumors that his relationship with Katie is a publicity stunt:
"It's amusing at first. It's funny. But then you sit back and realize how sad it is that there are people who can't even imagine feeling like this."
Translation: I thought every guy wanted to fuck the high school student next door? Why am I getting vilified for it? I'm so desperate to appear young that I'm dating a girl that every guy who graduated high school in 2000 thought was the hottest chick in the world. Do you think if I comb my bangs forward I won't look 40? I'm such a prick that I assume people actively wish me unhappiness, even though the truth is they probably don't like me thrusting my happiness in their faces with all the grace of Marilyn Manson teabagging that security guard.

On criticism:
"I don't care. I can't live my life based on what other people think of me. Who cares what other people say?"
Translation: I won't even bother to point out that, when you go on a show like Oprah, it's really only to create interest in your personal life so that people will go and see your films. I don't care what people think of me, I just want them to want to know every detail about my personal life so that they'll spend a ton of money on War of the Worlds.

On the media backlash:
"There are some people who just don't like to see other people happy. They try to actively stop it. They find that sort of happiness ugly."
Translation: I don't have a problem, everyone else has a problem. I just want to throw my wonderfulness and my child bride in everyone's face, especially in media outlets, without having to hear anyone in the media actually comment on it. Gaw!

On Brooke Shields:
"It's not a matter of making it personal. I care about Brooke. I want to see her do well. I think she's really talented. But she's misinformed. And you know, from that Access Hollywood interview, I've gotten over 154,000 responses thanking me."
Translation: I didn't mean to be personal when I commented on her personal life, which I know nothing about, but feel qualified to attempt to "correct" her thinking. And Access Hollywood is as appropriate a forum for medical discussion as any, right? And I'm sure none of those letters were from equally misguided scientologists.

On his anti-drug stance:
"In the 1980s, you were supposed to say no to drugs. But when I say no to drugs, I'm radical?"
Translation: I got an honorary doctorate once, doesn't that qualify me to make medical statements with some authority?

On psychiatry being a "Nazi science":
"Well, look at the history. Jung was an editor for the Nazi papers during World War II. Look at the experimentations the Nazis did with electric shock and drugging. Look at the drug methadone. That was originally called Adolophine. It was named after Adolf Hitler."
Translation: I'll believe any urban legend the "church" tells me, because I'm so unable to find something meaningful in life that I'm willing to believe anything. Besides, I totally knew that girl who thought the sewer rat was a dog. Hey, did you know there's a ghost in Three Men and a Baby? You can totally see it.

[Incidentally, Jung did not edit for the Nazis, and methadone is not named after Hitler. Both urban legends.]

On his new role as the Dalai Lama of scientology:
"What choice do I have? People are being electric-shocked. Kids are being drugged. People are dying."
Translation: Don't you people understand? I'm an actor who basically makes one shitty movie over and over again! I'm obviously qualified to make these kinds of irresponsible statements and proselytize about shit I have no idea about! I mean, I'd like to be a normal person, but I was touched by otherworldly forces like John Travolta in Phenomenon, the gospel of my "church."

Well, that's about all I can stomach. I guess we'll have to wait until next week when Entertainment Weekly lets Brooke Shields respond. They're fair like that, right?

In the meanwhile, as someone who has had mental problems inside my family, I'd like to invite Tom Cruise to get ass-raped with a rhino horn in the alley behind a gay porn theater.