Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Used Goods

-Ring ring ring-

Hello, Dominion of Movies.”

The voice on the other end is unfamiliar to Fernando. “Yeah, I was wondering if you had any copies of Red there.”

Fernando takes a quick look at the aisle. “Uh, I don't have any in right now, but if you want I can give you a call as soon as I get one back, if you'll give me your name and number.”

Oh, I meant if you had any copies up for sale.”

Wow, coincidental. Actually, I was planning to throw one up on the sales rack tomorrow. Did you want me to hold that for you?”

Yeah. I'll be down.”

So Fernando places the case for Red behind the counter and the following day he readies it for purchase. About an hour after opening a guy Fernando has never seen before comes in. “Yeah, I'm here for Red,” he says.

Right here. It'll be eight bucks.”

Wow, that's a great deal.” Then the man looks down and frowns. “It's used.”

Well, yes. That's why it's eight dollars.”

I wanted a new copy. You told me you had a new copy.”

Now it's Fernando's turn to frown. “Er. No. Sorry, but generally my sales are used. I do do special orders though, but generally those are for hard-to-find movies instead of stuff that's been just released that you can easily find at Wal-Mart or wherever.”

You told me it would be a new copy. Do you have a new copy?”

I'm afraid I said no such thing. The only copy of Red I have for sale is the one on the counter in front of you. Sorry.”

This does not satisfy the man's consumption needs, so he leaves. The copy of Red is placed on the sales rack and is snapped up by one of Fernando's regular customers later that day.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


A pretty young woman and her friend enter the store one evening and select four movies to rent. Fernando is mostly sure he knows who she is but asks her name anyway. Turns out he is right.

He begins filling out the rental slip when she throws a ten dollar bill upon the countertop. “You can just put the rest of that onto my late fee.”

Fernando nods. “No problem.” Then he goes about collecting the movies while the young woman turns to her friend.

Yeah, I was in a while ago and said, 'I think I have some late fees.' I thought I had like six bucks but he says, 'Um, you actually have like 19.' But it was cool because he let me put stuff down on it.”

Indeed it was cool,” says Fernando as he returns with movies in tow. “I try not to be a draconian asshole to people the first time something like that happens because, well, shit happens.”

They both laugh and the second girl chirps, “You sound really flexible!”

Oh god no. You won't see me doing splits anytime soon.”

Giggles cascade from the two of them again as they leave the store and bid Fernando a good evening.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Acting Range

One of Fernando's regulars enters the store one sunny afternoon. “Hey, Fernie, where ya got The Tourist?”

It's right over there,” Fernando responds, rising from his seat and pointing. The man plucks the tag and brings it to the counter, whereupon Fernando begins filling out the rental slip.

Yeah, the wife wanted to see this thing because it has Johnny Depp. I don't really see the point.”

Eh, to each their own,” Fernando says diplomatically as he retrieves the movie in question.

How hard can it be for the guy to act? It's not hard to be fuckin' Edward Scissorhands or a crazy pirate. Arrrrrr!” he snarls with one finger curled into a hook-like shape, firm in the belief that his portrayal of a swashbuckler was of equal quality as Johnny Depp's.

Fernando considers for but a moment invoking one of the many, many other movies in which Johnny Depp was not simply fuckin' Edward Scissorhands or a crazy pirate—Chocolat and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas came most immediately to mind—but Fernando had better things to do than engage in a fruitless argument with someone whose mind was already made up and which could very well catapult things from merely misinformed to horribly annoying.

So instead Fernando bids the gentleman a good evening and returns to his seat after the man leaves.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

One For One

An off-and-on gentleman enters the store one day. Fernando uses the phrase “off-and-on” because this guy has rather frequent run-ins with the law and spends a fair amount of time under the hospitality of the local criminal justice system. Despite his illicit proclivities, he has never failed to return his movies on time when he comes in to rent, so Fernando does not shy away from renting to the gentleman. He's a Keeper of the Dominion, not the Morality Police of the External World.

Anyhow, it's a Tuesday and Tuesday, in addition to being New Release Tuesday, is Rent One Get One Free. The man browses the store for a bit and then approaches the counter with a small handful of tags. “It's one for one today, right?” he asks.

It's rent-one-get-one, yeah,” answers Fernando.

Not one for one?” the man asks in confusion.

Fernando notices the man's befuddlement. “I mean, it's always one for one. If you pay to rent a movie you are entitled to the borrowing of that movie. But today you get a free rental when you rent a movie. 'Two for one' would be a more accurate way to phrase it.”

Wait, when did you start this?” he asks.

Um. It's been that way since time immemorial. Anyway, it comes to seven bucks.”

Wait. You said it's two for one.”


I have three movies.”


So I should only have to pay for one of them.”

I don't follow.”

It's two for one, not one for one,” the man explains.

Right. That's why it's seven dollars.”

But you said it's two for one.”

Fernando eventually makes it clear to the man how the values “two” and “one” are not interchangeable in any regard.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

More Late Fee Madness

A lady Fernando doesn't recognize enters the store one day and selects five movies to rent. When she approaches the counter, Fernando goes through his usual routine of asking her name and if she has an account.

Yeah, but I haven't been in for a while,” she responds. “My name's Janna F.”

Ah-ha. Ms. Janna once rented a single movie from here back in 2007 and it failed to be returned. It was an older one, so she “only” owed $29 in late and replacement fees. Fernando informed her of this, and that she would need to pay them off before he considered renting to her. She made a valiant attempt at arguing.

You can't do that! You're the new owner so you can't collect on those!”

That's an interesting premise. Where do you work?”


Where do you work?” Fernando repeats.

Why?” she asks.

This will all become clear in a few seconds, so bear with me. Where do you work?”

Thrice said and done, to use the parlance of The Dresden Files. “The Shinra Corporation.” (Note: Not actually the actual fictional Shinra Corporation)

Oh, awesome. You guys do billing. Let's say your billing cycle goes from month to month and you take over the business as its head, and this transaction goes through on the twenty-first. According to your logic, you would forfeit on collecting money for all the services the company provided to customers for the first through twentieth, to say nothing about possible collections on late or delinquent accounts, all because ownership of the company changed hands.”

But--” she attempts to interrupt.

But,” interjects Fernando, “you wouldn't actually do that, would you? Because that would be stupid.”

She decides at this point she has been outmaneuvered and leaves.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


A guy Fernando has never seen before enters the store one rainy afternoon. “Hey, do you rent PS2 games?”

Indeed I do. It's two dollars a night, three for two nights, or five for a week.”

Well, I got like ninety games that I'm looking to sell. I went up to the Sound Shelf and they offered me three bucks a title. Do you buy them?”

Excellent. Now Fernando knows a bit more what his competitor is offering for PS2 trade-ins. “I offer credit for trade-ins, yeah. What kind of games are we talking about?” Because if it's things like Disgaea or Final Fantasy X Fernando could very well make handsome profit reselling online, seeing as used copies of those still go for around 12 bucks a piece. But Fernando is not hopeful as the man doesn't seem like the JRPG—or any RPG—type.

Mostly sports and racing.”

Oh. Fernando really doesn't want “like ninety” iterations of Madden and NASCAR cluttering his space. “Yeah, about three bucks a pop is probably the best I can do for you, too. Certain titles might be worth more, for what it's worth.”

They're all good games, though.”

I'm sure they are. The problem is that not everyone is a fan of sports games and, well, the market is glutted with new versions of the things that come out every year and generally obsolete the one people spent sixty bucks on the year before.”

I mean, I think they should be worth at least five bucks a piece.”

Sadly, what you or I think they should be worth is not what they are actually worth. Games, especially sports and racing titles, generally don't appreciate in value unless they're mint-unopened-box-signed-by-the-creator sorts of things. If I may suggest something, head online and check out sites like eBay or Amazon and see how much your titles are worth on there. That will give you a relatively unbiased look at their worth. Keep in mind that's for things like intact cases, enclosed manuals, et cetera.”

The man looks crestfallen. “Oh. I don't have the manuals for a lot of them.”

Fernando shrugs. “Then they're going to be worth less. Like I said, check it out online and you may be able to get a better deal than the one you were offered up there.”

Oh. Okay,” says the man, and he leaves.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Order Minimums

Fernando has had, as has been related, a number of snafus with his distributor as a result of their recent “corporate restructuring.” Fernando assumed these hiccups could be managed and worked around and that eventually things would settle down and normalcy will resume with everyone being happy.

Oh, Fernando. How silly and naïve you are.

Fernando's new releases were absent once again on this Tuesday and, in this case, Fernando had not even received the email stating his order had been processed and his account debited. Now that was bizarre, since he had at the very least received confirmation emails in the past. So he phoned the distributor and got hold of his account representative.

“Butcher and Clothier, this is Annie.”

“Yeah, hi, Annie. This is Fernando from the Dominion of Movies.”

“Oh, hi, Fernando! How are you?”

“Troubled, quite frankly. I don't have my releases for today and I have not even received the email I usually get letting me know my order has been processed. I'm calling to find out what my order's status is.”

“Okay, let me pull up your account and take a look....”

Annie taps away at her keyboard as Fernando waits. After a few moments, she says, “It seems your order has not yet been processed. It is set to be processed and delivered tomorrow.”

“Um. That doesn't really help me for today. Why the delay?”

“Let me check.” A brief pause. “It seems your order for this week was under the minimum.”

“Minimum? What's this about a minimum? There's never been a minimum before.”

“Well, this has been in place since February.”

Ah. That's when the much-lamented “restructuring” occurred. “I've never run into problems with order minimums before. Never. This week is considerably busier than ones in the past. I've got The Mechanic, The Rite, Roommate. Three weeks ago it was just filler crap like Sacrifice and Blood Out. There's no way that week met the minimum and this week doesn't.”

“It must have.” She says this in a neutral, matter-of-fact tone that suggests her interpretation of events is infallible.

So Fernando does what he does best: he finds concrete evidence to refute her blatantly incorrect statement. He digs about in his filing cabinet, retrieves his invoices from April, and fishes out the invoice in question. “I spent $109.37 that week. There is no way that my multiple copies of those three movies for this week come to less than $109.37, unless you guys have decided to start offering new DVD releases for less than $10 each.”

Faced with such irrefutable evidence, Annie can only respond, “I don't know what to say to that.”

Fernando sighs in consternation that she can't fess up to her mistake as Annie continues, “We'll also bundle in your movies for next week.”

“That in no way helps me with my lack of new releases for today.”

“I'm really sorry this happened. I'll make sure this doesn't happen again.”

“Please do so. I'll call you if any further issues crop up,” Fernando says with finality.

“Okay. Sorry again. Bye.”

“Good day.”

Fucking deplorable.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Adult Responsibilities

A man enters the store one evening with three early-teenage children in tow. He shouts that they have thirty seconds to decide what movie they're renting because Mom is waiting in the car. The young ones scuffle and argue a bit about what to get but they come to a rather quick consensus and bring the tag to the counter.

Can I get your name?” Fernando asks as he prepares to fill out the rental slip.

Put it under his name,” the man says, gesturing to the oldest son. “I don't want to be responsible for it in case they don't return it.”

Fernando takes those words in and mulls them over. Then he says, “The reason you just described, the one in which people don't return the movie, is precisely why an adult's name needs to be attached to the slip.”

Queerly enough, the man took it in stride and provided the requisite information without further complaint.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

For Your Information

Continuing a train of thought from the previous update, Fernando's distribution company underwent some “internal restructuring” at the beginning of the year. Part of this restructuring was firing Fernando's old account manager, a wonderfully genial lady who'd been working there for at least fifteen years, and replacing her (and a number of others) with “new blood” in order to save money on salary and benefits, Fernando's cynicism presumes.

He's become convinced that they're doing it wrong because Fernando has suffered at least one semi-major fuck-up every month since February. Little things like competence go a long way to finding oneself in Fernando's good graces, and likewise failing at one's responsibilities goes a long way to finding oneself on Fernando's shit list. Perhaps the company is still being quite competently run, but Fernando's not seeing it from where he is situated. If he is being shunted to the bottom of the importance barrel because some more profitable location needs the copies Fernando would otherwise possess, that's fine; he owns a podunk video store in Podunksville, Podunkia. He doesn't for one second fault a company for trying to make money. That's what they're intended to do.

But he does fault a company when it completely ignores the needs of its patrons (provided, of course, they aren't deserving of such derision in the first place. Fernando can't think of anything he has done that might offend their sensibilities...except of course for this and other chronicles that he has shared with the world). Fernando likes making money just as much as his distributor, and if his means of income generation is negatively impacted to too great a degree he won't hesitate for one moment to seek out a way to recoup those financial losses. And if that requires no longer ordering Universal Studios videos from his distributor, so be it. One reaps what one sows.

Moral of the story: don't fail, and Fernando will have no problems with you.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Back-Order Woes

Fernando receives his ordered movies for May 3rd, 2011, and sees listed on the invoice The Dilemma. Unfortunately for him, there are zero copies in the box and there is a big, fat 0 in the shipped items column. So Fernando does the business-responsible thing and fires off an email asking when he could expect to receive the copies he needs in order to appear competent at procuring inventory for his business.

“You should be getting them end of the week,” is the response Fernando received. Fernando is okay with this, and more importantly he is able to shunt the responsibility of film absence up onto the distributor's shoulders with promises of the film's arrival by Friday.

Friday arrives to a distinct lack of The Dilemma. Fernando shoots off another, somewhat less-polite email asking what the deal is. He receives an apologetic response promising—promising--that he'll have his movies come Tuesday. The blame for a lack of movies was placed upon Universal Studios' apparent inability to duplicate enough product to meet demand.

Well, whatever. Except, come the following Tuesday (today, by odd coincidence) when Fernando receives his movies for that week, there's still no The Dilemma. It is, however, listed and marked as still on back-order. So Fernando sends a third email, this one chock-full of snark, inquiring as to the status of his order and whether or not his Universal movies are still on perpetual back-order. He receives a prompt answer, and opens the email with bated breath to read...an automated response. Apparently his account manager at the distribution company decided to not be in the office today, but don't worry! She'll be back tomorrow!

It's cool, though. Fernando is probably going to start going out of his way to pick up Universal comedy releases from Wal-Mart so he can ensure he has the movies that he needs when he needs them.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


It's a Saturday afternoon and a self-righteous semiregular lady enters. She browses for a bit but soon approaches the counter with her tags in hand. Fernando does what he does best and retrieves the movies she's requisitioned: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Dawn Trader, The Hangover, and The King's Speech.
While this is happening she's pawing through Fernando's stamp card box in search of her card, claiming that she has a free rental coming.
You don't, actually, so it comes to nine dollars,” says Fernando.
I just want to make sure.”
I mean, I'm sure. If you had a full card, it would be on my list of full cards. Your name is not on the list.”
You could have forgotten or made a mistake.”
But, no, Fernando did not make a mistake, and as he is sifting through his card box for her unfilled card, she scowls at the movies before her.
I didn't want The King's Speech. I wanted Harry Potter.”
Er...I got the tag for The King's Speech.”
Well, I didn't want that. You must have mixed up the tags.”
Actually,” says Fernando without too much of his usual snark, “yesterday was a really slow day for The King's Speech. None of them were rented. I did, however, rent out most of my copies of Harry Potter. I sorted through those returns earlier today. There is no way or reason I would have moved one of the tags for The King's Speech onto Harry Potter arbitrarily.
He wanted so very badly to say, “You must have made a mistake,” but restrained himself. Fernando is all about self-control.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Content Priorities

Hey, is this movie any good?” The film in question is Black Swan.

Actually, it is,” replies Fernando. “I don't think you can go wrong renting it.”

Yeah, but do you think I would like it?” The speaker in this case is a young adult male regular customer of Fernando's.

Well, it's a wonderfully twisted psychological thriller type movie, if you're into those. It also has a scene where Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis go down on each other.”

The man plucks a tag off the case without further hesitation.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Inventory Expansion

Hey, do you have the movie Friday?”

I think I did at one point, but let me check to make sure it wasn't sold or stolen at some juncture.” So Fernando heads into his computer and does a quick search. “Nope, sorry. Doesn't look like I have it.”

You should get it, man. Have you seen it?”

I have. It's fairly decent. The sequels are nothing to write home about though.”

Dude, you should pick it up. I'd totally come in to rent it.”

Well, that would go a small way towards recouping my initial investment in a decade-old movie.”

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Gust of Wind Dance

One weekend in late April consisted of nothing but wind and sleet and occasional rain. It proved very good for business (people are loath to head outdoors into hateful weather) but when it all died down Fernando saw that a portion of his roof had been deshingled and damaged. That's no good. That requires Fernando to spend money, and he has ever been a miser par excelance.

So Fernando heads over to his insurance people to inform them of his desire to invest in a new roof. Sure, the damage was only to a part of it, but Fernando realized that the whole thing may as well be replaced because, except a portion where some shingle repair had been done five, six years before, it kinda looked old and nasty. “It would be preventative,” he argued to Nice Insurance Lady. “Else the parts that need repairing would get repaired but six months, a year down the road some other little piece would get damaged and that would be no good for either of us because we'd need to shell out more money to fix that little problem.”

Nice Insurance Lady accepted Fernando's argument and asked when he could get an estimate in to her. He told her that he called up a local roofer who would come by “soon(tm)” to measure and give Fernando price estimates on reshingling the roof versus throwing up a metal one. Nice Insurance Lady said she would pass the claim on up her bureaucratic line and that Fernando would receive a call from an adjustor within the next few days.

The very next day, Fernando was awoken at 7.48 A.M. Central Standard Time as his cell phone went berserk. Who could be calling what gaaaaaah, were the thoughts seeping through his sleep-addled consciousness. Fernando missed answering the phone with all the grace and serenity that could be expected of him at 7.45 in the morning, and it went to voicemail.

Fuck this. I'll deal with it later, grouched Fernando as he collapsed back into blissful slumber.

He awoke some hours later and checked his voicemail. As he listened to the message, he seethed:

Hello, Fernando. This is Magic Man Potion, your adjuster from Magic Man Insurance. I am trying to reach you regarding your claim status. Your claim number is 11111, and you can reach me at 555-555-5555 if you have any questions or concerns. Once you get an estimate, you can fax that to us at 555-555-5556, extension 5335. Thank you.”


God, it's like these people have never heard of emails, email attachments, or .pdf files. Or printer/scanner combos. Or any one of the gaggle of technologies that aren't fax machines but do everything a fax machine can do, and more, and easier, and by all rights better.

Fernando wonders if they would like the estimate produced on a typewriter, as well.