Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Coworkers: Part 85 - Parade Begins

   Our new owners were Wherehouse, an established chain. I had shopped several locations in the 70's when I lived in Los Angeles. That was years ago. Since then, Wherehouse had survived lean times, including a stint in Bankruptcy. What had saved them during the file sharing era was USED. Used CD's and Used DVD's, an approach favored by indie stores.
   Fully half our store would be allotted to USED inventory. After months of spreading out product to make our racks appear fully stocked, we now had to shift and condense the entire layout. "We" as in Mandy, Sarah, Angela, Stacey, Pat. Chick Shift. Guys bore the grunt work of breaking down and shifting bins and racks. Professor suffered a meltdown. The Classical oasis was being shifted to the main floor. The room would become 100% Latino music. I had shipments. Mountains upon mountains of boxes.
   USED CD's.
   And ...
   Not talking artistic Playboy videos, featuring naked models splashing in a swimming pool while a saxophone moaned in the background.
   No. XXX. Hardcore. Explicit covers. Anal, multiple jousters, usually a lively hour of unplotted, freestyle bangin'.
   The Parade Began.
* *

   Word got around. Business increased. USED was a massive hit. Selling and buying. As customers converted their collections into mp3 format, they sold off their discs. This struck employees as shortsighted, since the mp3 audio quality was a fraction of the CD. Still, one didn't argue with customers, even Regulars, like Rodney, who was liquidating a decade of discs.
   We quickly got the hang of what we needed, what we had too many of, and what would sell in our particular store.
   USED Porn, we never received. Not from the DC, not from customers. Did these guys watch the same scenes over and over? Or were they collectors, building a library of priceless memories? Impress first-time girlfriends with a wall of fleshy romps? Or grow a legacy they could bequeath to grateful grandchildren decades from now?
   Straight away, we realized Porn shoppers were completely single. Secretive, almost furtive. Never asked for employee assistance. And of all the employees in the store, the one they tried to avoid, the one they were terrified of, or simply hated, was Sarah.
   Sarah was a sadist.
   Most Porn guys stood silently in line, then slid their choices across the counter. Upside down, no exposed bush, pink, or title like Nannies With Whips.
   Sarah always flipped the cases back over and gushed brightly, "Oh, no date this evening?" or "Just break up with your girlfriend?" or "I can tell you're going to be busy tonight!"
   Guys visibly wilted under this upbeat attack. If there were shoppers behind them, especially families or females, their faces would cringe in pain. Sarah was merciless.
   After several months, Porn boys memorized Sarah's schedule. They'd either visit on her day off, or when she worked Listening Center, away from that damned front register. Even then, they weren't completely safe. They'd be in their hallowed skin section, absorbed with Muffin Warriors From Mars, or Vixen Businesswoman Part 27, or Saving Ryan's Privates, gems all, and some employee would ease up behind them.
   "Finding what you need, sir!"
   Scared the hell out of them.

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