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A short story titled, “I didn’t get candy”

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This story takes place in the late 1980’s. At that time we often rented movies from a video store that occupied what had previously been a supermarket grocery store in Southtown Shopping Center in Bloomington. Now this wasn’t the size of a Super Target or anything like that but it was much larger than your typical video rental store. DVD’s had not been invented yet so a display of VHS tapes took more space than a DVD rack of today’s video store but even so the expansiveness of the store left much space between racks which were randomly placed to make you weave through the store. Another thing different about this store is that the checkout was in the very back of the store all the way in the left corner instead of being just before the exit like every other store in the universe. So anyway, after choosing your video you would proceed to the checkout desk which was not unlike that of a theater as they had candy and other snacks under the glass. It was at this point that they would do the hard sell making you refuse every item.

Would you like some chocolate covered raisins?

Would you like some M & M's?

How about some popcorn?

Maybe some chips?

Oooh, how about some Luden's wild cherry flavored cough drops?

And it went on like that until I had been forced to participate in a complete inventory of the back of the store. I never got candy there because it was such a rip-off. And here is yet another thing different about this store: Whatever you got, including your $4 rental, was bagged up and they sent you on your way, yes, without paying!  Paying for your purchase was a task left for when you return your rental which was accomplished at that very same counter in the back of the store. I think their marketing scheme was to make you walk through all the racks so you would do more impulse rentals.
On a personal level daytime minutes were very precious as we both worked and we were raising five daughters. Oh, one other thing, in those days I had quite a temper.


We wanted to rent Back to the Future but we didn't have much time so I told Renee, "You go to the back and hold me a spot in line, I'll grab the video on the way and meet you there." All went according to plan and we were in and out in a few minutes. The next day I pulled up to the curb in front of the video store and told Renee, who was sitting in the passenger seat, "I don't want to rent another video. I'm going to just dash in and return this video. You stay here and move the car to a legal parking spot if a cop comes." So in I went and marched the 300 feet the checkout/return desk. I handed the tape and $5 bill to the fifteen year old kid behind the counter and left my hand out waiting for my change.

'The kid' looks at my empty palm and says, “You need another $1.89”

“It should only be $4.24. I only rented one movie,” I responded.

He declares, “You bought candy for $2.50. With tax that comes to $6.89.”

“I didn’t get candy,” I politely replied.

“The computer says you got candy,” 'the kid' barks, now with an attitude.

Still remaining respectful I answered, “There must be some mistake because I didn’t get candy.”

“Computers can’t make mistakes, mister,” 'the kid' snaps back with negative emphasis on the ‘mister’.

Now he has lit my fuse so I lean over the counter and exclaimed sternly, “Well, this time the computer made a mistake, kid!” I echoed his negative tone on ‘kid’ then I continued, “Give me my 76 cents and let be on my way!”

Now 'the kid' has backed up a bit as he says, “Look, mister, if you don’t pay the $1.89 I am going to have to call the manager.”

“Yes, please, call the manager. I want to talk to him more than you do. You are really pissing me off.” Now I am burning holes through 'the kid' with my eyes as he reaches for the phone, dials the P.A. number and says, “Manager to the return desk.”

I am looking forward to talking to an adult that has some respect for customer service. While we wait I keep my 10 watt laser glare on the kid, who has now backed all the way up to the wall. After about three minutes this 17 year old 'goth kid' comes up and says to 'the kid', “What is the problem?”

“This guy bought candy with his rental and refuses to pay for it,” 'the kid' responds.

“Why do you refuse to pay for your candy?” 'the goth kid' asks me.

“I’m not refusing to pay for my candy, I’m refusing to admit that I got any candy,” I emphatically reply.

'The kid' jumps in with, “The computer says he got candy.”

'The goth kid' turns to me and says, “The computer says you got candy.”

Now here is something you don’t know about me. I can talk much louder than most people can yell. On Easter morning I could recite the Lord’s Prayer from the Pope’s balcony without a P.A. system and every person of the multitudes gathered below could hear me. So when the ‘manager’ repeats 'the kids' ‘computer’ phrase to me my fuse burns right down to the touch hole. I turned around facing the center of the store, drew a deep breath and at full volume I bellow, “To everyone in the store,” as I pause every person in the store bar none has turned around to face me. Then I continued, “if you are thinking of renting a video in this store be prepared to be ripped off when you return it. They will claim you bought candy when you didn’t and bully you to pay for something you didn’t get.”

I’m just drawing my next deep breath when 'the goth kid' has jumped around in front of me with his raised palms patting the air and says, “Please mister, calm down. I believe you. Just pay for your video and leave.”

With that I turn to the kid and demand, “Give me my 76 cents.” Which he immediately does, so I turn and march out the store.

I get into the car and Renee says, “What took so long and what is with the red face?”
I told her the whole story about 'the kid', and the manager 'goth kid', and how they teamed up on me to try to rip me off but when I got the attention of the whole store they backed off.
Renee kept quiet through my minutes long rant then when I finished she said, “I got candy.”

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