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Video store boogie: Saga of a movie rental

By Kevin Smith
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday Jan. 9, 2002

Kevin Smith

I'm going to start the new year on a light note. I'm going to stick true to my section and write about something we all encounter from time to time but probably never take the time to really think about. This is something I did many times over the break, and it can be very frustrating when you don't get what you want. You guessed it: I'm talking about a trip to the video store.

I'll amend that last statement. I'm going to write about a trip to Blockbuster. I mean, when you want to rent a video, you know it's going to be there if you go to Blockbuster.

Sure, you may say to yourself, "I want to support my local businesses so I'll go to Video Fever right next to my grocery store," but come on, what are the chances that that tiny store has the movie you want to see right now? In the time you used your energy and patience to go down there and found the movie was already gone, you could watched the movie, having already pledged your allegiance to the blue and yellow. Blockbuster is the Microsoft of the video rental agency, and what choice do I have but to relinquish my values for a state of perpetual convenience?

So you get to your local Blockbuster and there you have it, maybe not always the most extensive collection of videos but they do the trick. If you already know what you want, bang, go find it. It's usually there.

On the other hand, maybe you don't know what you want, so you decide to peruse the sections. Now you're swimming in an ocean of old favorites and new releases. It's the same third-dimensional parallax thing as when you go into a record store, but right now you're just trying to pick a movie.

So you grab "Urban Legend Three: Pain in the Urbane," and you take it to the clerk at the counter.

Now, as a video clerk at a Blockbuster chain, one automatically loses two-thirds of one's self-esteem by putting on that royal blue polo with the yellow trim and Blockbuster logo. However, these kids have no problem announcing to you and the line of video-depraved spectators behind you that you owe their organization, Blockbuster, money.

This is where things can get a little hairy. For instance, if you do not return a Blockbuster video for an extended period of time, the company sends letters to your house and starts calling you at various hours of the day, reminding you of the fee you are accruing. Blockbuster is the movie mafia. At least Tony Soprano would call you by your first name if you owed him money. These guys don't care about your first name; they have no business getting personal. They just want what you owe them.

So you are informed after finally picking out "Joe Dirt Two: This One Couldn't Suck As Much As The Last One, Right?" that the last movie rented on your card, "Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot 2: Big Stepmomma's House," is 10 days overdue.

Now you ask yourself, "Did I really rent this piece of trash? Did I lend my card to someone else and they rented it but brought it back late?" And there you are, trying to remember whether you are justified in disputing the fee or whether you just want to get out of this hell-spawned store. You decide to pay the fee because, at this point, you are too tired to fight this paradoxical situation, and you vow to find out later how that movie was rented in the first place.

As if renting a low-grade movie isn't enough, the counter person announces not once, but twice, (the last right before you leave) the title of the movie you are renting, just in case anyone in the store missed it the first time. I never really minded this tradition until I rented the movie "Snatch." So you pay, they rattle off the day and time the movie is due back like programmed bicentennial men, and you walk out $10 poorer but hopefully a bit more entertained.

You get home, kick off your shoes, park your butt on the sofa, open the box and there it is: "Carrot Top Live and Uncut."


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