When I was 18 I worked at video store. Yes, you heard that right, I said VIDEO store. Complete with VHS rewinding devices, late fees and teenage management. Also, we had free popcorn for the public! Yay! Free stuff! Now, as much as this salted-styrofoam confection got patrons to come in, most of it invariably ended up on the floor. This prompted the hiring of a “Lead Concession Specialist”. I assure you, every applicant did their darndest to pretend they knew what that was.
This was long before the term “instant queue” entered our shared lexicon. You were at the mercy of the outside world as you traversed across town to rent your next video odyssey. This was the “buffering” of the analog era. You had to leave your house and drive to another building and back before enjoying the contents of the precious magnetized tape housed within its slate black casing. And God forbid if that pimple-faced kid behind the counter forgot to use that store mandated rewinder!
Another benefit of our video chain was a drop box in the parking lot. This was great for our customer base but it primarily afforded men with trenchcoats and floppy hats a way to covertly return their recent installment of Battlestar Orgasmica, Shaving Ryan’s Privates or both. Usually both.
Yep, that’s right. We had an adult video section. The only one in town. Which, depending on who you asked, was something to be proud or ashamed of. Personally, I found it comedic that, in an attempt to minimize the shame, we provided black plastic bags to cover the smut until customers reached the counter. In reality the bags seemed to serve more like the “A” in The Scarlet Letter than a way to hide one’s video choice and I always savored the moments when neighbors, with starkly different evenings planned, would stand awkwardly in line.