Complete incompetence at Blockbuster.

5 04 2008

On my way out to feed the street cats just now, I thought I’d return a film I watched yesterday at the Blockbuster that’s right around the corner.
Normally, this is a huge ordeal, returning movies, especially if I also want to rent a film at the same time. The employees get confused, there’s running around, and general huffing and puffing. No transaction like this takes less than four minutes, what with all the frustration on both of our parts: theirs on how to return films and how to check them out, mine on why the hell it’s taking so damn long. But today, it wasn’t the case. I thought I’d just drop it in the box and walk away.

However, once I got there and once I’d dropped the film into the drop box, I realized there was a film I was interested in. So, walking to the back of the store and grabbing it, I walked forward to start the business of negotiating the transaction which I could foresee being twice as complicated now that I had actually RETURNED the film and it was sitting in the return box a scant three steps away from the cashier.

Upon arrival at the counter, I explained that I had just returned a film and that I wanted to check out this one.
“No problem,” he says to me. “If you have MoviePass it’ll just tally up as one more film out if you haven’t reached your limit.”
(Let me explain: MoviePass allows me to check out 3 films at a time with no cost, other than the monthly fee I pay. If I check out more than 3, I pay for the ones over the limit. At my house were two already and I’d just now returned the third. This meant that if I didn’t want to pay, the employee would have to go through the process of “returning” that third film so that I could rent the new one. Now, back to the story…)

“No,” I began to explain. “I am at my limit. I need to return the one in the return box to rent this one.”
“It’s in the return box?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said again.
And then he shook his head no. “It’s going to be difficult,” he began to explain. “No one’s here to open the box. I can’t do it now.” And then he put my new movie to the side and looked expectantly for the next customer.

But there was no next customer. In fact, besides me, there were two other women in the cookie aisle seriously debating between two brands, nowhere near ready to wait in line to pay. I was the only one there.

I stared at him.
“No one’s here,” he said again. “It’s locked. I can’t get into the box. It’s difficult.”
I stared still.

Reluctantly, he walked toward the box–the wrong one–and bent down to look inside. It was open and he began to look in at the returned movies.

“No,” I corrected him. “I returned it in the outside slot. The other box.”
Just at that moment, a store manager appeared. She opened the door (also unlocked) to the return box and asked, “You want to return your film?”

“Yes,” I said.
Taking the returned films out of the box, she pulled out three. THREE. Mine was the one on top, considering I’d just returned it three minutes earlier.

“Thank you,” I said.
And then, standing in front of the male employee while he fumbled around with the DVD, “returning” it, I formulated the possible smart remarks:

  • That wasn’t hard now, was it?
  • Hmm. Yeah, you’re right. Pretty difficult.
  • You are the reason things are so wrong in this country.
  • This is what it feels like to work, dude. Get used to it.
  • You know what, I think you outdid yourself. Why don’t you take a break and grow some balls. Act like a man and do some work from now on.

In the end, once he gave me my new DVD, I just said “thank you” and walked out of the store. Why respond to negativity and laziness with more negativity and rude comments? It was more than satisfying to see him realize that I wasn’t going to bend over and tell him I’d come back later to check out the movie, which I knew wouldn’t be there if I ever came back, and to see him resign himself to doing the work while I stared at him. 

I’ve been working my whole life in the public service industry, whether in restaurants, or schools, or retail or customer service. I am disgusted at people who, choosing jobs in which they have to interact with people, choose to be dicks to the people with whom they interact. I’m embarrassed for them, that they think so highly of themselves that they cannot extend themselves even slightly—-even three steps to the return box—-to do their jobs well. It’s rare that I see individuals like this in Brazil: most people overextend themselves to get their jobs done (unless it’s bureaucratic nonsense like filling forms out at city offices. But that’s a universal characteristic I think.) I see how hard people work here in Campinas, I see how hard they work for such little pay, and I respect them tremendously for it. Today’s interaction with this tool at Blockbuster left a foul taste in my mouth. Thank God this guy is the exception to the rule.




5 responses

6 04 2008

I think that if you had been inclined to be nasty, the “You outdid yourself…” comment would have been the one.
I’m just saying.

6 04 2008

You know actually, I’m not sure I know the word for “balls,” in portuguese. I mean, could be the same word as “balls” as in “soccer balls,” but I didn’t want to risk his interpretation of me telling him he should grow some “soccer balls.”

7 04 2008

Haha…love the thoughts in your head. I’ve had similar experiences at Blockbuster here and its usually a snot nosed teenager staring back at me. They have no respect.

7 04 2008

“I stared at him.” Simply looking silently at someone can be a very effective negotiating tool. If you can smile at the same time, it’s even better because they think you’re slightly demented, too.

7 04 2008

I think I was too disgusted to smile. Plus, my smiles here already come with a side of crazy because so often they’re because I’m confused at the situation and don’t understand. I’ve got the “foreigner crazy smile” down-pat. This guy didn’t deserve a smile. If I were standing any closer to him and the counter weren’t in the way, I would have smacked the back of his head.

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