Thursday, June 28, 2012


A guy comes down to rent Act of Valor. It is Monday, a rent-one-get-one day, but he does not select a second film. “Hey, can I just have this one for two nights since I'm not getting another movie today?” he asks.
Strangely enough, this is the first time this request has been made of Fernando in all his tenure as Keeper of the Dominion. Even more strangely, it is entirely reasonable. “Sure thing. You're actually the first person to ever bring that up to me.” So the deal was struck, the return date was incremented by one, and both parties were content.
What, you expected something horrible to happen?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Amateur Delivery Hour

Fernando comes down to the store early one day because he is expecting his weekly allotment of movies to arrive. By being at the store, he can ensure they come into his possession and he can set them up and subsequently rent them out all with minimal fuss. Usually the UPS guy comes through between 11 AM and 1 PM, but since Fernando has been at the Dominion since 10 AM things seem like they could not go wrong.
Come half past 1, Fernando grows increasingly perturbed by his dearth of inventory, so he double-checks the shipment tracker. He heads to the distributor's website to get his incredibly long tracking code and copy-pastes that into the UPS website. The page that pops up after Fernando clicks “SUBMIT” proves equally enlightening and infuriating.
Apparently a shipment attempt was made at 1.12 PM local time. Because “the receiver's location was closed,” the delivery could not go as scheduled and another attempt will be made the following day.
This sounds rather legitimate, except for the teensy detail that Fernando was at the damn store the whole time. Either UPS came into a great deal of disposable income and invested in some damn fine cloaking technology for their vehicles or Fernando is dealing with monumental levels of ineptitude.
So he makes a phone call to the local UPS store. -Ring ring ring-
UPS Store, how can I help you?”
Yeah, this is Fernando Stevens calling from the Dominion of Movies in Saladolsa. I was expecting a shipment to arrive today and when I checked the tracking info it seems that a delivery attempt was made.”
Well, sir, we're just the shipment center, so I actually can't help you with that. Let me get you a number you can call where you can receive assistance. Are you ready?”
Fernando tells her that he is and she rattles off a 1-800 number for him to call. Fernando thanks her for her help and then proceeds to dial it.
Welcome to the UPS automated customer service. Para espaƱol oprima uno.”
Fernando is presented with four choices which he may say. None of them are what he wants, namely a real person on the line. He holds his peace and the robot-lady repeats herself after pretending to be sorry that she could not hear him.
Fernando keeps waiting. Robot-Lady goes through her spiel two more times with increasingly exasperated words appended to her rote recitations. First it is, “Sorry,” then, “Please speak louder,” then she began presenting Fernando with numerical alternatives for the options, which were no doubt enacted through pressure from the mime lobby.
After about three minutes of Robot-Lady talking to herself, she finally says, “If you would like to speak with a live representative, please press 0.” Fernando does.
A different robot-lady now says, “Please hold. A customer representative will be with you shortly.” Fernando is then shunted to Inoffensive Muzak Land, where atonal saxophones hork a repetitive sequence of notes. Second Robot-Lady interrupts every thirty seconds with, “Please hold. A customer service representative will be with you shortly,” and this is Inoffensive Muzak's cue to loop the reel.
Fernando sits down and begins typing up this Chronicle as he waits.
Fernando just got a live customer service representative on the line now.
UPS customer service, how may I help you?” says a woman with a faint Hispanic accent.
Hi, my name is Fernando Stevens and I'm calling from the Dominion of Movies in Saladolsa. I was expecting a parcel to arrive and I just checked the tracking information. A delivery attempt was made here at 1.12 my time but I've been here since the morning and I didn't see any of your trucks pass by.”
Could you get me the tracking number, please?” she asks.
Fernando takes a deep breath and reads off the 25-digit monstrosity. After a pause, the woman on the other end says, “Yes, that seems to have been the case. It seems that this is the second delivery attempt, is this correct?”
If that's what it says. I was not around yesterday when the delivery was made so I actually can't vouch for it, though.”
And you received a notice slip informing you that the delivery attempt was made today?”
Actually, no. I didn't even see the truck pass by.”
I understand, sir. Could you give me your last name, sir?”
Stevens. S-T-E-V-E-N-S. But the package is probably addressed to the Dominion of Movies.”
Fernando faintly hears keys click-clacking. “Yes, I see. Your phone number?”
Fernando provides it. More faint typing. “Okay, sir, we will contact the driver and inform him that you are expecting the delivery. Are your business hours clearly posted on the door?”
They are, but I'm usually here well in advance of when I open when I expect a delivery.”
Very good, sir. Allow me to place you on hold while I process this information.”
Okay, thank you.” Fernando is returned to the Land of Inoffensive Muzak where he waits for about three minutes until he is disconnected from the call, presumably by the customer service representative.
Fernando types up to this point in the Chronicle and polishes up the stuff he wrote before. Then he waits. The customers who enter the store expecting a bounty of new media to consume are left disappointed, and for that Fernando apologizes.
His movies arrive the following day at about 10:30 AM.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Fernando helps a regular customer by fetching movies and doing the things that he usually does on a particular Sunday afternoon in June. The transaction goes through without a hitch, for this is one of Fernando's best, most frequent, and most trustworthy customers.
As she and her children turn to leave and Fernando wishes her a good evening, she looks back over her shoulder and says to Fernando, “Happy Father's Day.”
But I'm not....” She did seem not hear the words that Fernando said, for she continued her egress.
Or...or she knows something that Fernando does not, and that worries him.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

I Was Told There Would Be No Math

What's that?” asks a woman who hadn't been in the store for a while. She points at the thing which rests atop Fernando's sodey pop fridge.
That is the Adopt-a-Movie Box. Anything in there's up for sale, four bucks a pop, or two each if you've already got eight bucks in purchases.”
She rifles through it. “What do you mean?”
If you purchase eight dollars in stuff, then anything that you would select from that box would be only two dollars rather than four.”
What if I buy eight dollars from this box?”
Then you will have bought eight dollars in stuff, and any further purchases from that box would come to two bucks apiece.”
But I spent eight dollars, so they'd only be two each.”
Then you would only have spent four dollars, making them once again four bucks apiece, bringing the total to eight.”
She shakes her head. “That's too confusing.”
In all fairness, the conversation left Fernando befuddled, too.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Names the Same

A guy and his lady pal and their child come into the store for the first time in over a year. “Hey, do we have a free one?”
I don't think so,” says Fernando. “But let me check to be sure.” He does so and they, indeed, do not have a free rental coming in any form.” This does not dissuade them from browsing the store. As they search, Fernando digs through his stamp card box and pulls out the card bearing that man's name. They're seven-tenths of the way to a free one, and Fernando points this out to them.
Free is better than not free, so they search for four movies. Suits Fernando just fine. Their meanderings bring them to Fernando's sci-fi section, whereupon the lady asks him, “Hey, they're coming out with another Avatar, right?”
Indeed they are,” answers Fernando. “But it's not set to come out for a while yet. I understand they even have Cameron roped into a third.”
No, not that one. The M. Night Shyamalan one.”
Not the first time this overlap of names has left Fernando looking silly. “Oh. That one I haven't heard they're doing a sequel.”
Why not?”
It tanked in theaters and got pretty bad reviews.”
It was awesome! They have the whole rest of the cartoon to do!”
Right, but it's not happening. The last time I heard anything about it was back in like September of 2010.”
They should know by now that M. Night makes quirky movies.”
I mean, they do know this. That's why they're choosing not to give him money to make said quirky movies.”
A declaration like that could not be refuted, so the transaction proceeds as usual.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Attack of the Gays

Ronaldo is at the store one afternoon. He and Fernando discuss menu options at an upcoming gala which will be held at the Dominion when a middle-aged woman enters. Ronaldo retreats to the back room to allow Fernando to ply his trade without interruption. The lady browses Fernando's sales rack and purchases a movie. As Fernando prepares it for her, she peruses the Adopt-a-Movie Box. “What's this?” she asks.
That is my Adopt-a-Movie Box,” Fernando says. “Those are four bucks apiece or, if you have at least eight dollars in purchases already, then they're only two apiece.”
What do you have in here?”
Little bit of everything. There's only so much floor space available for inventory so I need to keep a conveyor of movie turnover going.”
The lady pulls out a case and reads the back of it. “Oh, I like him a lot,” she says. “This would be two dollars?”
Absolutely.” The film in question is Colin Firth's A Single Man.
She flips the case over to the front, then rereads the back. “I'll take it.” Fernando has a merry search trying to find where that movie is hiding since it was not where it ought to have been. But it could not hide forever and so Fernando was able to clear up a tiny bit more inventory space.
After she pays, but before she goes, she asks Fernando, “Have you seen it?”
Can't say that I have,” Fernando answers. “It got pretty good reviews from critics though, as I recall.”
Oh, I wanted to be sure this isn't the one where he's....” She trails off and lowers her voice as if she is about to impart a great and dark secret to Fernando. “Gay.”
Um, that I couldn't tell you off the top of my head,” Fernando truthfully answers.
Okay, but I'm letting you know that if this is that one I'll be returning it.” Then she leaves.
Note to self: Do not ever try to put a sell on her for Milk.
Alternate ending: Fernando supposes that if he's allowed to disdain certain movies for the reasons he find them disdainful, others can't be faulted for not wanting to see Colin Firth getting hot and sweaty with some other guy.
P.P.S.: Never mention Game of Thrones to her either.
UPDATE: Three days after the movie was sold, Fernando finds the case nestled in his drop box when he comes into the store. Inside is the disc and a note reading, “You can have this back. He's gay in it.”

Thursday, June 7, 2012

What's Your Desire?

On June 5th was the last transit of Venus across the sun for over a century. Fernando, being the astute lover of all things cosmological that he is, procured a set of eclipse shades and made a thing out of it to make sure he viewed this once-in-a-lifetime event. Once the transit started in the early evening, he popped those bad boys on and headed out into the parking lot to stare at the sun.
He was not able to watch it uninterrupted, however, as he still was open for business, so when somebody pulled into the parking lot Fernando doffed the shades and returned indoors. Most people either knew what he was doing or did not care enough to comment on Fernando's behavior, but one enterprising soul who came to return some movies seemed unable to grasp why Fernando would do this thing.
What are you doing?” he asked.
Watching the transit of Venus across the sun,” replied Fernando. He removed the shades. “Would you like to take a look?”
What's the point?”
Well, it only happens once every century or so. Since I'm not yet immortal, I'd like to ensure that I see it before I die.”
It's just Venus crossing the sun.”
Right. That's the whole point.”
That's boring.”
So is watching football and Christ knows I have to put up with people who harp on and on about that.”
Either the analogy explained things sufficiently or the guy gave up. Fernando doesn't care which.

Sunday, June 3, 2012


One of Fernando's regulars comes to the store one afternoon. He rents a couple of movies and Fernando tells him what the price will come to. Fernando goes to fetch the movies and meanwhile the customer places a bill upon the counter.
Fernando gets back and notices that it looks a little funny. Not quite like the ten-dollar bills that he's used to. He picks it up and takes a closer look at it.
It's a silver note, not a meaningless piece of paper (well, the silver note is technically just as meaningless because its value is premised upon how much worth people put on shiny rocks, but yeah). It's dated 1930-something.
Fernando makes a sound at this point. Coincidentally, Fernando is not good at poker.
The customer overhears. “Oh, hey, could I have that back? Sorry, I didn't notice that I gave that to you.”
Yeah, sure.” Fernando returns the certificate because he is not a morally bereft jerk. The customer instead pulls out a recent giant-faced Grant fifty.
Yeah, this old lady paid with it today,” he says. “Cool, huh? I'm gonna check out how much it is when I get home. This could be worth a lot!”
Could be,” says Fernando as he hands over the man's change.
Thanks,” says the customer. “Have a good night.”
You as well,” replies Fernando.
Turns out circulated 1934 $10 silver certificates are for the most part worth about 10% to 30% more than their face value, according to Fernando's quick lookabout on Google. Still, it would've been badass to own a piece of monetary history.