I worked in a
video store – but
only for a few weeks.
I wish it was longer. But
it was still a good time.
And this was in the time of VHS
tapes. Actual videos. I’d grown up,
in some sense, in the video stores
of New Zealand. Renting anything
that needed to be seen. And many
things that didn’t – or shouldn’t, and
only very few where I later wished
that I hadn’t.
The store I worked in was one of the
ones I loved – and visited often and of
course my relationship with it immediately
changed when I went behind the counter.
DVDs were only just becoming a thing. We
had a shelf with about 10 of them on. They
were the gold. And early adopters walked
the floor like millionaire landlords.
In the weeks that I worked in the video
store I rented hundreds – maybe even a thousand
tapes. New release preview copies to watch overnight,
any single concert or music doco I could get my hands
on if I hadn’t already and horror films, loads of
We were given the speech that if people rented pornos
we weren’t to be rude to them, but we were not to engage,
couldn’t give recommendations or share our opinions; we were
not expected to be experts in that section – we were
expected to be polite.
(The beginning of the end for me in that
job, was when I rang in sick so I could go
to a gig up near the ski fields, driving there
and back in the same day, about four hours each way).
People would lurk and we’d talk about important things
at the counter – you know like how Bringing Out The Dead
was one of Marty’s more underrated films and that any time
he directed a script by Shrader it was worth checking in on, you
had to be there.
It is such a relic of a time to think about.
That time was called on almost every video store many years ago.
But I still visit the one on the corner near where I live. One
of the very last standing in this city, in this country.
I visit in hope. I visit in good faith. I rent more than I need
to, and nowhere near enough to get the hero badge as being
the one that will keep them alive.
They will be gone – along with other non-essential services.
(And I’ve raised a son that will be sad when that day comes – and
maybe that’s one of my proudest-dad things I can think of)
But I did my time in a couple of record shops and a couple
of book stores, and in the video store too. I know all about
non-essential services (and how truly essential they are
to some people).
A lifeblood is flowing when you’re there arguing in favour
of some film no one else bothered to see. A palpitation of
happiness can be felt when you spot a nostalgic cover – some
movie you never ever saw but can remembering seeing the picture
from stores across cities, over decades and maybe even in
more than one country. You’re pleased that it’s there, a hallmark,
a special memory of a movie you’ll still never bother to watch.
That’s total lost cause stuff right there.
And I’d like to think I’ll still fight for it
while I can.
The fact that it’s not worth fighting for is
exactly what makes it