Wage Slave Anecdotes: The Oxygen Tank


When: Early 2000’s.
Where: Video rental chain store.

Early one Sunday morning (okay, like 9:00 am, but I was in college then), I was scheduled to open the store. Came in, turned off the alarm. Took the deposit to the bank. Came back and was counting all the money in the safe and the drawers of cash so I could start up each “till” as we called it. The store didn’t open until 10:00 but it was not unusual to get about a billion phone calls before I had even turned on one computer. At that time, I didn’t understand it at all. Now that I get up early even on weekends, I can sort of understand feeling a little annoyed that the video store doesn’t open until later. Anyway, not surprisingly, the phone rang.

Me: “Blank Store on Merrimon. This is Maegan. How can I help you?”

Customer, obviously elderly: “Yes, I was calling to let someone know that my liquid oxygen tank is empty.”

Me: “Your what?”

Customer, annoyed: “My liquid. Oxygen. Tank.”

Me: “Are you sure you have the right number? This is the video store.”

Customer: “Shit.”


Wage Slave Anecdotes: Conversations with Employees


When: Early 2000’s.
Where: Retail video rental chain store.

Now that I’ve cracked on customers for a while, you need to hear some of the crazy things my employees said over the years.

Jennifer: “Well, I decided not to join the Army.”
Me: “Oh, really?” I said, genuinely surprised, as it was one of the only things she’d talked about for months. “Why is that?”
Jennifer: “I had bad experiences with all my recruiters. Basically they told me not to join. And all the bad things about being in the military.”


Customer, making small talk at register: “When you have a baby, you lose your mind.”
Robin: “I have a cat.”
No response, followed by uncomfortable silence.


“All I need is to wake up in the morning, see a soccer ball and lovely ladies, and then go eat breakfast.”
(He’s now a professional soccer player. Go, Paul!)

Other favorite Paul quotes:

When talking to a customer, “Late fee?? We’re not even talking about that. We’re talking about you finding your card. Let’s wait til the card gets here, and then we’ll go there. Right now, you got no card! You can’t even rent! Never mind late fees.”

While talking to a customer on the phone who was having trouble with their PS2, “Hang on one second.” Lays the phone down on the counter. Waits 30 seconds.
“Yeah, ah, our Playstation Specialist said the software could be terminated. Or it could be a defective game. Or system.”


“I’m tired of YOU, Mister Phone!” — Swamp
(Yep, he worked there in college, too, and he still hates the phone.)


What? She was a hot monkey!” — Scott on Helena Bonham Carter in “Planet of the Apes” remake


“Minnie Driver used to be a chunky girl, and then she started dating Matt Damon and he said he wouldn’t have sex with her until she lost weight so now she’s skinny. What? Don’t you read the Enquirer??” — Thomas


“This weekend? Oh, I was at home. Well, most of the time. And then out. And in. And out.” — Debbie talking to her dad on the phone


Britney: “Ow! You bit my ass!”
James: “Well, it was right there! What was I supposed to do with it?”


Singing Aerosmith, “Walk this way! Stroll this way! What? Don’t they say that?” — Terhan


“Yeah, you’re straight…Straight to bed!” — Robbie the Drag Queen


James (my gay roommate): “Hey, guess what I am for Halloween?”
Me: “What?”
James: “A flaming homosexual!”
Me: “Your eye makeup is so pretty!”


“This counter is here for a reason. It’s here to keep F—tards like this away from me.” — Ethan, now a filmmaker


Me, speaking to James about his desire for collagen injections: “Well, I guess it comes to down to…would you rather have a lip or a car?”


Customer: “Tehran? Did you know you were named after the capital of Iran?”
Terhan: “It is pronounced TER-HAN, and actually I am not.”


Me, when Swamp once brought me a pizza while I was working: “It’s got pineapple on it.”
Swamp: “Yeah. I like pineapple.”
Me: “Well, I like boys who are not self-absorbed, but it looks like we’re fresh out!”

Wage Slave Anecdotes: Stupid Questions from Customers


Working in retail is a great way to see a cross-section of the American population and conduct anthropological research into why we have evolved into such a stupid block of people. The following examples are quotes from customers.

When: Early 2000’s.
Where: Video rental chain store.

1. My business card works as a form of ID, right?

2. Do you get sick a lot from handling all the tapes of people who stay home and watch movies when they’re sick?

3. Are your Christmas movies in the Holiday Headquarters section?

4. You’re a manager? This is the first thing you’ve ever been in charge of, isn’t it?

5. Is it cool to get to watch music videos while you’re working? [During N*Sync.] 

6. Us: “I’m sorry, we don’t carry that title.”
     Them: “So you don’t have it?”

7. Why don’t you sell Cry Baby gum here? Why?

8. Are the movies we just rented [and paid for] any good?

9. What do you mean you can’t find my name in the system? I just rented two years ago in Orlando!

10. Meggity Megs…is that your real name?

11. If I buy this, can I use it?

12. Is it your policy to say hello to everyone who walks in?

Wage Slave Anecdotes: The Mouse Turd


When: Early 2000’s.
Where: Video rental chain store.
What: Conversation overhead between a little girl and an adult woman accompanying her, relationship unknown.

Kid: “My daddy has a turd at his apartment.”

Lady, breathing out an uneasy laugh: “What?”

Kid: “My daddy has a turd at his apartment.”

Lady: “What does that word mean?”

Kid, rolling her eyes: “You know!…..Poo!”

Lady, now  genuinely confused: “What are you talking about?”

Kid: “He has a little turd — a little mouse turd! In his apartment!”

Lady: “Oh! A mouse turd! From a mouse! Okay.”

Wage Slave Anecdotes: Austin’s Little Sister


When: Early 2000’s.
Where: Video rental chain store.

Some of our regular customers were a family of five who were both intriguing and hilarious. The dad in this family was very effeminate, and the mom just seemed like a normal mom. We frequently speculated that either she didn’t know he was gay or it was some kind of a marriage of convenience. Of their three children, the oldest one (Austin) had learned his dad’s speech pattern and spoke like a flaming homosexual trapped in the body of an 8-year-old. With an enormous Southern accent. He was your typical oldest child — bossy and controlling of the siblings, but also protective. There was a middle child, a boy, who never spoke. The youngest was a girl, maybe three or four years old. Old enough to walk. One day as I was checking out his mom, Austin exclaimed:

“EW!!!!!! Get your tongue off-a-that!!! It’s naaaasty!” He stood with his hands on his hips, eyes wide as bottle caps.

The little sister had slid back the door of the ice cream cooler and was standing there licking the frost build-up on the inside walls. Maybe she was too little to understand that that was not, in fact, ice cream. She looked up at me without removing her tongue from the frost and just grinned. I don’t know if she was proud for getting to the “ice cream” or proud for disobeying Austin. I guess both would be pretty good to a four-year-old.