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: 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.

Wage Slave Anecdotes: CANDY!


Before I start telling stories that will make you hate parents and children and pretty much all of society, I’ll start with a funny story about some good people.

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

I am ringing up the purchases of a mom, who has her two children in tow, aged around 8-10. In order to grasp the true hilarity of this story, you must imagine whenever the mom speaks, the biggest mountain accent you’ve ever heard. Where every word has 14 extra syllables. (I say this lovingly, because that’s how I talk, too.)

Me: “Hi, did you find everything okay?”

Mom: “Just fine, thank you.”

Kid A (heh): “Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom.”

Mom, digging for her membership card: “WHAT??”

Kid A: “Can we get some candy?”

Mom goes back to digging in her purse and ignores the kid.

Kids A & B, alternating voices, frequency, and pitch: “Mom. Mom. Can we get some candy? Mom. Mom. Mom. Please? Candy? Mom.”

Just as she finds her card, she snaps. She’s waving the card around in the air to make her point clearer, glaring at her kids with a burning hatred in the moment.


She turns back to me and rolls her eyes, laughing.

The kids sit down in the floor, gazing longingly at the candy shelves. With pitiful looks on their faces, like they just realized the utter futility of life. As my cousin Chip once remarked when his parents refused to buy him a pet turtle, writhing in emotional pain, “But now I’ve got NOTHING!”