Retales: Kill the Video Store

The employees of any retail place have just as much of a shelf life as the products on the shelves. I worked at Rogers Video for over three years, which doesn’t seem that long now, but back then it felt like whole eras coming and going. Species and landscapes and seasons, employees and branches and products, always in flux, an evolving world like a revolving door.

I felt shame from staying so long. I was severely underpaid, even for retail, and when employees left and returned later as customers they would laugh at me and call me a lifer. My eventual departure, which I had been planning on for some time, felt as much like quitting as being let go.

In the back room of our second building, which I’ll always remember as being cold and smelling like stuffed-crust pizza, and where I would retreat to take long bathroom breaks to hide from customers for a little while–this was where I had my sit-down with my manager at the time. Coincidentally, she had been my first manager, but not my only one by a long shot. I had another full-time job and was tired of spending my weekends at this one, so I wanted to quit, but since I’d never quit a job before I didn’t know how to go about it. Previously I either had seasonal or contract jobs, which expired naturally and expectantly, and any other jobs I just walked out on without a word when I was ready to do so–fine when you’re a teenager with a job that lasted only a couple months, but less so at 23 after working somewhere since 20.

“We can’t afford to give you more than 8 hours a week,” said Kim, a boyish-looking woman with a bleached-yellow crew cut. She was my favourite manager, and still is even though I haven’t spoken to her in five years. “I guess, with your other job, you’re okay, but in regards to this one–do you think that’s worth it?”

And so, seeing my excessively convenient way out, I said “No.”

Thinking back, the way she phrased it makes me think she needed (or wanted) to get rid of me, and I made it really easy on her. But it was the great eclipse of the video store and that place and all others like it were soon extinct. I probably got out at the best time.

I was not sad to leave, except that I was finally working with an employee I liked–a girl named Tracy who laughed at my jokes. On my last day, I said, “Well,” and she said, “Don’t worry, we’ll see each other again.” But we didn’t.

I moved out of Sherwood Park shortly after. It was a time of great change.

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