Sunday, December 30, 2012

Annual Abscondments: Approbationary Apocalypse

Everybody must've figured the world was going to end this year because prime douchebaggery was underway starting only a few planetary rotations after the ball celebrating 2012 dropped. January did not work out well at all for the sanctitude of the Dominion's inventory, and it took Fernando quite the while to calm his charges' shattered nerves after the initial wave of thefts.
The Switch and Trust: One of Fernando's semi-regulars must have contracted the stupid virus, because these two bad boys were nipped only two weeks into the new year. Why she did this thing Fernando will never know, as his calls went unanswered and his inquisitory tendrils could not turn up a mailing address. Obviously she fled the country after perpetrating this most grievous of sins. Hopefully it was to someplace comparatively nice, for the movies' sake, rather than a nasty cesspit like Somalia.
Bad Santa, Accepted, Superbad, Escanaba in da Moonlight: It bothers Fernando when thieves have the foresight to select entertaining and (mostly) quality bits of property to steal. A guy came to the store and set up an account. Fernando, having learned from past mistakes, obtained his full identification for the matriculation application. The guy rented the four movies. Obviously, they were never returned. The phone number provided was a cell phone that went perpetually unanswered and whose voicemail was Generic Phone Lady saying “You have reached five-five-three-two-one-two-four. Please leave your message at the tone.” Mailing a thing to the address on the license proved fruitless, so it was with a sad heart that Fernando accepted his parting with these four items.
Game of Thrones Season One, Discs 1 and 2: The thieving came to a close in early February and the Dominion experienced a month-long respite before this caper was executed. Here is another case of a regular customer arbitrarily deciding to sever whatever positive ties he shared with Fernando. He came down and rented two of the five discs of the DVD box set and then just never returned them, ignoring Fernando's pleas through assorted methods of communication. The bizarre thing is that this man's parents rented completely different movies about a month later and one of the outer cases upon their return belonged to the second of the two discs. Fernando never asked how this came to pass because his quarrel was not with these other people, but rather with the thief whose malice resulted in the other three discs of that box set being rendered essentially useless. Fernando suspects, but is not certain, that he is utilizing his ladypal as a proxy renter but in the absence of hard evidence he can do nothing about it.
But hey, she now owes Fernando eighteen dollars, too. Pretty soon this dude will run out of people to rent for him because his circle of friends will all be on Fernando's shit list.
Chronicle, The Mothman Prophecies: Now it's late May and a teenager comes to the store. He rents these two movies and they go the way of Amelia Earhart. The sad thing is that this kid has the most common last name in the area and Fernando has no clue as to which particular branch of this overlarge family he belongs. Rather than instigate all of them (some of whom are regular, trustworthy customers who do not deserve being accused of having reared a petty thief), Fernando held his peace and opted not to call every single family in his records who shared this surname. He had extra copies of the one movie and the other one was a decade old, anyway.
Madagascar 2: Eh. It almost never rented anyway. I just can't bring myself to get worked up over this one. Oh wait, no, they went ahead and made a Madagascar 3. Fudge.
Reign Over Me: Once upon a time a young lady set up an account here. Her parents came in a few months later and rented under it. A curious inversion of the usual way things went, but none of them owed Fernando money from years and years ago, so Fernando did as bade. The movies which were rented came back about two weeks later. Late fees were tallied against the young woman's account and life went on.
The young lady came in about three months later. Fernando told her the state of things and she apologized for her elders' poor behavior. She threw a pittance on the late fee and rented the above movie which you, Dear Reader, may have inferred vanished from this plane of existence. Now she and her parents share a place on the ban list, even though the object which they stole is a ho-hum offering from six or so years ago.
The Lorax, 21 Jump Street: Okay. Fernando has a super-duper regular customer, easily in the top five of people who put money into his pocket. Fernando makes all sorts of exceptions for this gentleman on the vanishingly rare occasions when they come up, for this man is punctual in returning his movies and swiftly reigns in his offspring on the occasions when they start to get a little rowdy in the store. 
This man came into the store one day with someone Fernando had never seen before. They are speaking quite animatedly. Good customer rents a couple of movies. The other guy brings a couple of tags up. “Hey, can I rent these?”
You'll need to set up an account.” This thing happens, the movies are rented, and so forth. They don't come back and the phone number the gentleman provided was faulty. Quite.
The next time Fernando's Best Customer is in the store, our Keeper broaches the subject of the missing movies and asks if maybe Best Customer could talk some sense into his companion.
Yeah, I'll try to get in touch with him for you. You've tried calling him?”
Yeah, but the number he gave me is disconnected. Does he have a new cell or something where I could reach him?”
Don't worry about it. I'll get them back for you.”
Best Customer goes into the world and presumably makes a valiant stab at accomplishing what he promised Fernando he'd do. He returns a few days later.
Yeah, he told me that he brought them back.”
Er. But they weren't.”
The two exchange a silent look. “I'll try to get them back for you,” Best Customer says to Fernando.
That would be much appreciated.” Fernando's voice sounds unnecessarily cold, so he appends, “I'm not blaming you or anything. The frustration at being lied to by proxy grates on me.”
Best Customer departs. The movies remain missing.

At their worst, things can only get better, right? Stay positive, Fernando. Stay positive. 2013 is a bright beginning, a new adventure of sunshine and roses and who am I kidding sunshine causes cancer and dandelions are better.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Ah, No

The guy who kept a pair of movies out for about a month before returning them slinks back into the store one day not long after Fernando opens. He approaches the counter. “Yeah, I want to move the stamps I have on my card to somebody else's.”
Ah, no.”
The guy leaves.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

It Keeps on Giving

A lady comes in and sprawls over Fernando's countertop one evening. She has not been to the store in at least three years. Fernando recognizes her face but in no way recalls her name. “Hey, do you guys have a thing where I can buy a card to swipe or something?”
Fernando takes a shot in the dark as to what the woman was alluding. “You mean a gift certificate?”
No, a thing where I put money on it and somebody can come in and use it to rent stuff.”
Yeah, a gift certificate.” Fernando leans down and opens his drawer, where he keeps the blank certificates he has crafted. He shows them to her.
I don't want one of those. I want a thing where I can tell him that he can come down and rent so many movies, like eight or ten or something.”
It's certainly possible to arrange that the certificate is for a set number of rentals rather than a dollar amount. It's all the same to me.”
But I want the thing so that he can have it.”
That can also be arranged. He (whoever “he” is....) can just bring it in with him when he comes in.”
How much would ten bucks be good for?”
Ten dollars in rentals, thinks Fernando to himself, but the words he says are, “That would depend on if he's renting new releases or older ones. The new ones are three-fifty a night, the older two dollars.”
How's he supposed to keep track of that?” she asks, dread of mathematics lacing her voice.
He wouldn't need to. I can take care of all that.”
Okay. Make it ten bucks then.”
Fernando fills out the gift certificate to the proper amount and takes the woman's money. “Did you want an envelope with that?” he asks.
No. I ain't paying for one.”
...The envelope is a free courtesy.”
Oh. Then yeah, whatever. Gimme one to stick it in it.”
Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Yes, Really

A lady comes into the store one rainy evening. She had rented out two new releases a few days earlier. “So, these are a little late.”
Fernando reclaims his property. “Did you want to kill off the late fee on them now?”
Yeah, sure,” she says, pulling out her money satchel. “How much is it?”
Fourteen dollars.”
The woman looks at Fernando in shock. “You're kidding me.”
Afraid not.”
I don't see how it could be that much.”
You did have them out for five days.”
That's just stupid. There's no reason it could be that much.”
Fernando shrugs. “Were I to have charged the full rental amount for each additional night rather than the somewhat lesser amount which I do, your total would have come to thirty-five dollars.”
Jesus. I just forgot them in my car for a few days and now you're charging me fourteen dollars,” she grouses as she digs out money.
Fernando does not mention to her that it's not his fault that she neglected to return the movies in a timely manner. That would be crass of him.
She throws a ten and a five over the counter at Fernando. The paper flutters to the floor. “There's your fourteen dollars.”
Fernando stoops to retrieve the money. “Indeed.” He makes the dollar in change from the till and passes it over to her. “Have a pleasant evening.”
His politeness and responsibilities to this wretch of a customer exhausted, Fernando returns to his computer without a backward glance. The woman sees herself out.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Stamping Out Fairness

Semi-regular customer comes in on a Tuesday. Customer rents four movies. Customer provides Fernando with a card to stamp. Fernando stamps it two times.
Customer is disconcerted by this. “Hey, why did you only stamp it twice? I got four movies!”
That was unanticipated. “Stamps are not given for rentals which are free.”
That's dumb.”
Not really. It's always been done this way.”
It's not fair.”
If I gave stamps out for free rentals, I would find my income depressed in rather short order. People come in fairly often to take advantage of my various deals and customer incentives, and I do like being able to buy Munchkin sets and food, among other accouterments of lesser importance.” Customer can find no response to that, so he leaves.
Maybe he just had a bad day and thought arguing with Fernando would be a good way to relieve his frustration? Who knows.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Dialogue

Hey, do you have Ted?”
No, sorry. That doesn't come out until next Tuesday.”
Why don't you have it?”
I believe I already answered that.”
No you didn't.”
I do not have it because it is not yet next Tuesday and I also have not yet mastered chronomancy to the degree that I can travel forward in time at a rate faster than everyone else around me, thereby allowing me to attain Ted early. Sorry.”

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Transmitido en Español

Fernando has just returned from his back room and is about to begin eating his dinner. A vehicle pulls in. This irks Fernando, for he very much does not like being watched when he eats and he feels rather peckish at the moment, and with his luck the people who pulled in will dick around the store for half an hour and leave Fernando's meal sublimely tepid and in need of a re-microwaving.
The chimes jingle and a small army of six people enter. Their ages range from 20-something to eight or so. Five are male, with one female around the age of 10 or so. Strangers one and all, wearing camouflage overcoats and hats, Fernando is not made enthused by their presence.
The oldest among them speaks. “Hola. ¿Cómo estás? One of the other boys, teenaged by the looks of him, chortles.
Bien, pero no sé por qué usó la palabra 'estás.' Yo no conozco ustedes, y ustedes me no conocen. ¡Pero bienvenido a la País de Video!”
Utter silence. The young man who addressed Fernando in the Latinate devil tongue looks at our hero in dumbfounded awe. Chortles McChortle's mouth has dropped open.
Fernando looks around at these strange people. Life had taken a less wearisome turn, it seems, for there was trollish fuckery to be doled out. ¿Que pasó?” he asks.
Holy shit, I didn't expect you to actually answer, man,” says the twenty-something guy.
¿Por qué no?” Fernando asks, using what he recalls from Spanish 202: Intermediate Spanish II to the utmost. The last time he had utilized Spanish to any meaningful degree was when he visited Italy during his study abroad, back in the olden days before Fernando had real adult responsibilities. There is a great and amusing anecdote involving the biggest bitch Fernando has ever encountered wrapped up in his travels to and from Naples and Pompeii, one which he shall perhaps share with the world at some juncture. As for now, all that needs to be said is that Fernando's amateur Spanish served as an incredibly useful supplement to his infantile Italian among the older people with whom he dealt. For comparison, the zenith of his Italic mastery is represented by the time he bravely changed around a few words in the timeless query “Where is the bathroom?” when he asked a young woman in Pompeii, “Dov'é l'scava?”
The nice lady answered him in English, bless her heart forever.
Leaving behind that overlong anecdote, the twenty-something then asks Fernando, “Um, what do we need to set up an account here?”
Fernando responds to this in English, mostly because he doesn't know the Spanish words off the top of his head. “I need you to fill one of these out,” he says, pulling out a membership application. “And I'll need to see your driver's license.”
The guy does not put up any argument, perhaps because he remains intimidated by Fernando's facility with tongues. By this time, the rest of his crew had spread out into the store, browsing to their hearts' content. They select a couple of older-ish movies (Straw Dogs and Just Go With It) and bring the tags up to the counter. Twenty-Something, whose name, Fernando learned, was Benin, has filled out the application to Fernando's satisfaction and listened attentively as the Keeper shared with him the rules which governed the lease of the Dominion's inventory.
The rental slip was completed, money exchanged hands, and the six strangers left the store slightly less stranger-some than when they had entered.
¡Hasta luego!” Fernando shouts to them as they depart.
Despite the fact that these six seemed to be itinerant slayers of deer, they returned Fernando's movies on time. Small victories.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Against All Odds

A guy, his girlfriend, and one of his buds enter the Dominion one fine day. The couple is a newish member of Fernando's congregation, having begin using the Dominion's services perhaps a month prior. Fernando has had no trouble with them. The bud is just a guy who tags along with them.
The boyfriend member of this triumvirate approaches the counter. “Hey, how many stamps do you need to get a free one again?” he asks, producing a stamp card approximately four-fifths of the way to the vaunted free rental.
You need to get to ten.”
Well, do you think you can stamp us for the last time we were in, when we forgot to bring our card? That should get us there I think.”
This seems like a reasonable request to Fernando, who was (by necessity) present during this transaction three days prior. He does as the gentleman requests and the card reaches full capacity.
Awesome, thanks,” says the man. He and Girlfriend and Bud stream out into the store and decide that tonight's film du jour will be The Woman in Black. “Free, right?” Boyfriend asks, despite Fernando having made this clear a minute or so ago.
Yes indeed,” Fernando responds. He fills out the rental slip, retrieves the movie, all seems well. Being as it's a Friday, he then asks, “Receipt or popcorn?”
Wait what?” Boyfriend asks.
It's Friday, so you're welcome to a complimentary bag of popcorn to go with your complimentary movie, if you like.”
Fernando's clarification only served to further muddy the waters of comprehension. “Hold on, what?”
So Fernando does the song and dance he has done before on the options which are made available to customers when popcorn is involved. After all is explained, the three share a look and Girlfriend tells Fernando, “No, I think we're good, thanks.” They depart.
However, in all the tizzy and confusion, Fernando neglected to take the full card into his possession. This seems like it should be no problem, right? After all, he can just ask them to turn it over next time they are in, or to destroy it if it is not with them. There is no reason to mistrust these people who have never given Fernando cause for worry before.
The following day Boyfriend returns along with the movie. He is on his own, only in to drop it off. “Thanks much,” Fernando says when he sets the case down upon the glass of the counter. “By the way, I accidentally forgot to snag your guys's card when you were in yesterday. You wouldn't happen to have it on you by chance?”,” says Boyfriend.
Okay, that's fine. Just tear it up or something, or bring it in next time.”
Yeah, sure,” he says, though his voice has an odd lilt to it, the sort which belies the existence of facts which are meant to remain obscured. He departs.
The day after that, Bud comes in. “Hey man, can I rent under Kiribati's name?”
Yeah, sure,” Fernando answers. “You're in with them often enough.”
Cool.” He sets something down on the countertop. “Can I use this then?”
It's a full stamp card! O, contrivance!
Uh,” Fernando says, using his fingers to slide the card over to his side of the counter. “You guys used that last time you were in.”
No, this is a different one.”
Really now.”
Weird.” Fernando lifts the card up to the light, peering intently at it. “It doesn't look like any kind of forgery.”
This confuses Bud. “What?”
Oh, I'm thinking to myself, 'How could you guys have gotten another stamp card when I only ever gave out the one to you guys?' I mean, nothing's outside the realm of possibility, what with quantum probability and all, it could very well be that another full stamp card for this particular store spontaneously generated after I asked that the old one be destroyed. Really odd.”
Um...y'know what, never mind. I'll go talk with Kiribati about it.”
Okay, sounds good. I'm going to remain in awe of this marvel of creation. Maybe I'll buy a nice frame to keep it in.”
Bud leaves.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


 “What's a good comedy that came out recently?” a woman Fernando estimates to be in her 30s asks one afternoon.
Well, I've got The Campaign, with Will Ferrell. I've heard fairly decent things about that one. Um...other than that, Magic Mike is still doing rather well, That's My Boy if you're into Adam Sandler--”
What's the one you said before?” the woman asks.
The Campaign?”
No, the magic one.”
Magic Mike. Yeah, that one's right here.” Fernando escorts the lady to the case's location, proudly sitting at #2 on the Dominion's Top Ten Rentals shelf.
She inspects the case for a moment, turning it over to read the back. “Okay, I'll take this one.” Fernando snatches a tag from the case and fills out the rental slip like every other time this has happened over his half a decade of working at the place. The woman pays and, since it is a Friday, Fernando asks if she would like popcorn. She declines his offer and departs.
It is now the following day at around 6 PM. The sun has long since vanished from the sky and it is pitch black outside, for the moon is new and shadow cloaks all the land. A vehicle pulls up directly outside of the store, blocking the windows through which Fernando sees the world and cold seeps into the Dominion to torment the feet of its Keeper.
It's the woman from the day before, with the movie. “This movie, oh my word,” she says to Fernando. “It is the worst thing I've ever seen.”
I'm sorry?” Fernando says, somewhat confused. While Fernando has not seen this film, not being particularly enamored of attractive shirtless men shaking their thang all over the humpty-dump Idon'tevenknowwhatI'mtryingtosayanymore, he trusts in the reviews he has read about how the demographic of the American population which finds such things to be of interest thinks the movie is a great and wonderful thing.
Yeah, it was really lewd.”
Fernando is not sure how to best respond to that. He tries repetition. “I'm sorry. I thought the case makes a pretty decent, um, argument as to what the contents of that movie would be.”
No, I thought the case was that way in order to entice people to watch it.”
Well, yeah. It's a movie about male strippers. That's what's on the front of the case, and I'm pretty sure the back also refers to their profession as such.”
Yes, but it's misleading. I didn't think the movie would be that bad.”
...It's a movie about male strippers. Strippers who happen to be males, not the other way around.”
The woman sniffs. “I just don't think you should be renting that out to anybody else, is all. I know I'll be telling people to avoid it.” She leaves.
On the one hand, Fernando lauds the woman's willingness to call into question the blatant salesmanship that is built into the pictures and words on the covers of each and every DVD case, to the point that she disbelieved a movie advertised to be about the antics of male strippers was not, in fact, about the antics of male strippers. On the other hand, the movie claims to be about the antics of male strippers. To not include male stripper antics in a movie which advertises male stripper antics seems like a horrible business decision that would alienate the people who wanted to see it for that reason.
Fernando calls the whole thing a wash.