Sunday 1 September 2019

Life beyond the BBC bubble

Twitter isn't all Terry Christian and Owen Jones and John Simpson and Ash Sarkar and Anthony Zurcher. 

Sometimes it's good. 

Here, for example, is a non-BBC-related thread from Laura that started a conversation of the kind you don't often hear on the BBC and which I hope you won't mind me sharing (and please forgive the swearing):

  • 11 years ago I worked in a HMV store and it still remains one of the most surreal employments I’ve ever had. Here are some of the highlights:
  • There was an old man who came in every week asking where the adult DVDs were. Every time you showed him, he’d grab his chest, yelp and pretend to faint, all in a desperate attempt to get one of the female members of staff to give him mouth to mouth.
  • A colleague called in one day to say his mum had died. Rightfully so, they gave him time off with pay so he could grieve. Except one day an angry woman came in demanding to see the manager - it was this guy’s very alive mum asking why they weren’t scheduling her son on the rota.
  • Another bloke got fired because he was stealing money from the til and getting it up to the staff room by hiding it in a ‘keeping up appearances’ box set.
  • On Christmas Eve a man came in at 5pm and asked if we had the new Girls Aloud album. I said we’d literally just sold out. He asked if I could order it in before 7pm that evening. I said no. He kicked down a display unit.
  • Another woman came in and asked if we had High School Musical 3 on DVD. I said it was only on cinema release and wouldn’t be available to buy until next year. She grabbed my collar, pulled my face an inch from hers, looked me dead in the eyes, and said “shitbrain”.
  • One day a bloke came in wearing a pair of sunglasses claiming he was Paul Weller. He asked if he could have a selection of CDs by The Jam for free as he’d misplaced his copies.
  • Another guy came in every week to buy all the new singles in the UK top 40. He was about 85 years old and had been a travelling DJ since the 60s. He hadn’t had any work in years but wanted to purchase all the latest chart hits “just in case”.
  • One bloke got banned because he kept covering his hands in blue paint and touching the CDs to try and get them for a reduced price as they were “damaged”.
  • A man tried to get a refund on a Tom and Jerry boxset because the storylines were “repetitive”
  • One regular customer who looked exactly like the Queen bought The Priests album 4 times. On her fourth purchase I asked why she was getting so many copies.“How do you remember me buying them? Is it because I look like the Queen? Because I get very VERY angry when people say that”.
  • And she did. One day another customer told her she looked like the Queen and she hit him with her handbag.
  • One woman knocked down a shelving unit of Cheryl Cole books and calendars because she said she had “the face of a bitch”.
  • A man threatened legal action when he discovered that instead of a staff member ordering him in Candyman: the horror film, they ordered in the CD single of Candy Man by Christina Aguilera.
  • A woman came in 3 times asking me to check the central ordering database to see if she could buy the book the film Mamma Mia was based on.
  • Channel 5 News came in to film some vox pops about the X Factor but eventually gave up after everyone they spoke to in the store just ended up calling Simon Cowell a wanker.

She clearly struck a chord. Replies a-plenty flowed in, including:

  • I still work for HMV now. My favourite ever request was an old lady asking my if we had any ‘Plastic Dominoes’. After about 10 minutes intensive detective work it turned out she wanted the new ‘Placido Domingo’ album.
  • I worked at a stereo shop and was showing a guy a high end system. When I told him what it cost, he said, “I don’t need all that, I’m not much of a pedophile”. I suggested that the term he might be meaning to use was “audiophile”.
  • Once worked in a Sports Shop in the early noughties where a Xmas temp was sacked for selling a £120 jacket to somebody who paid with fake banknotes that had Scooby Doo on instead of the Queen.
  • These are gold but if you wanna see the dark side of retail I challenge anyone to go work in a SPAR or LONDIS. Then you'll see some serious shit. When I started, my new boss showed me the panic button. He then informed me it didn't work because it was too expensive to get it connected. When I asked what I was supposed to do in case of trouble he showed me a baseball bat. His instructions were "Make sure you pop em hard in the face. Don't swing it or you'll kill 'em". There was also a time when a drunken marital dispute spilled over into the shop. The woman was covered in blue paint, thrown by her husband. She bought two scratchcards and left. Another time a pair of teenagers tried to steal sweets but were terrible at it. One of them tried to walk out of the shop with Blackjacks literally pissing out the bottom of his trouser legs. His mate had hidden an entire, still wrapped, Fry's Turkish Delight inside his mouth.
  • As a teenager I worked in a Woolworths cafe for a couple of years. My ‘fondest’ memory is a guy coming in & wanting beer with his fry up. He kicked off when I told him we couldn’t serve him beer (we didn’t sell it!), punched out the duty manager, then took a shit on the counter.
  • We used to get calls ALL the time asking when XXX was ‘being released’ only to realise, after much checking of the ‘new release’ lists, they thought they’d rung the local prison. Turns out directory enquires couldn't hear the difference between “HMV Preston” and “HMP Preston”.
  • Tower Records Glasgow, someone shat in a carrier bag and left it in the staff area. I'm guessing it was a colleague. Also, someone once asked for the "negro" section. She meant the reggae section.
  • I knew a girl who worked in Jessops and a regular train spotter used to have his photos printed. All the shots were of trains, except the last frame, in each roll which was always a photo of his knob. This went on for years.
  • Didn’t work in a record shop but I did work in pubs. Once a girl came in, tears streaming down her face, picked up a glass ashtray and launched it across the bar at me. Ducked & missed. Smash. Whole bar went quiet. She went “oops, I thought you were somebody else” - oookkkk.
  • I too worked in HMV so I recognise your plight, but my time in WHSmith beat it for me! An old lady punched my manager in the face because the Candle In The Wind single for Diana was sold out.
  • I worked in Virgin Megastores for 2 years and can relate to every single story. We had a man come in claiming to be David Bowie’s brother who wanted Lost Boxsets for free. A woman faked a heart attack when we were closing at 6 on Xmas Eve then tried to buy a wii game.
  • I worked in Virgin Megastore in Cardiff 20+ years ago. A bloke used to come in every Tuesday morning, go upstairs to the porn videos (yes), turn the top row of cases around to see the back, and knock one out underneath his jogging bottoms. All caught on CCTV each week by security, who got front row seats in the CCTV room each week to watch it live. He was never thrown out. It was the security guards’ weekly highlight.The thread also contains jokes:
The thread also contains jokes:
- A man walks into a pet shop and asks for a pet fly. The shopkeeper says, "sorry sir, we don't sell flies". The man insists, "well there's one in the window." 
- A man walks into a pet shop and asks to buy 12 bees. The shopkeeper carefully counts out 13 bees and hands them over. “But I only asked for 12 bees.” “Oh, that last one was a freebie.” 
And If you must have a BBC connection, here's BBC Middle East correspondent Quentin Somerville chipping in:
"For years I worked on the electric shaver counter at Boots, where we would sell cutters and foils that went back to the 60s.The state of some of the razors. I opened one to change its cutter and it was green inside with ancient lumps of mouldy hair. After that they gave us gloves. The razor belonged to the husband of one of my school teachers. As the filthy hair fell out on the counter she emitted a quiet, “sorry”. We then avoided each other’s gaze in school corridors."

1 comment:

  1. Laura sounds like a media wananbee. Freelance, a nice euphamism for unemployed. Was it a slow news day today perhaps.


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