Wednesday, November 20, 2013

It’s All About Who You Talk To: Being That Lady at the Local Movie Store

We have a movie store less than half a block away from us. It has really big selection of children’s movies that you can “rent” for free, so long as you return them within five days. We have four little people ages six and under. Very few reasons on God’s green earth would’ve kept me from this mecca of free entertainment, and yet I’d avoided the store for over a year. Because it also rents out “adult” movies.

I’d staged my own little boycott, stubbornly refusing to take advantage of the free kids’ movies, because, yuck, they were from that place. I’ll take my business of renting a stack of kids’ movies for free some other store, thank you very much.

And then a particularly difficult weekend fell upon me, one where my husband had to work extra hours in the office, something I’d forgotten about until I saw him getting ready to leave. What were we going to do without him? Suddenly the store came to mind with its promise of free movies that my kids hadn’t seen or tired of yet. 30 seconds away. The usual objection came to mind: but what about the “adults only” section? That day, however, I promised myself that yes, I would go into the store, but if I did, I’d have to request that that section be removed, as unlikely as that might be. I promised my husband I’d be right back.

I nervously drove the four seconds to the store and walked in. Before I could check out the movies I had to sign up for a membership which included a tour of the store. The young guy at the desk led me around the store, pointing out the different sections. I smiled to see a Jim Gaffigan dvd in the comedy aisle and averted my eyes from the horrifying and yet so boring horror row. We approached the “adult” section—a corner of the building sectioned off tastefully by false saloon doors—and passed it quickly, my guide skillfully showing me the new release aisle instead.

Back at the counter, I signed the paperwork, increasingly nervous as the time for me to speak came. He scanned the videos and was just about to hand them to me past the sensor when I stammered, “Could you please pass a message along to the manager for me?” He flushed and so did I, but I continued, “Could you please ask him to remove the pornography section?” My ears were on fire but I felt triumphant. I’d done it! And I used the word, too!

He fumbled for words and formed a faux-perplexed face . “You mean, the, uh,” and his eyes darted to the saloon doors.

“Yeah,” I said.

“Oh, um, sure,” he trailed off.

I thanked him and flew out of the door, desperate not to catch the eyes of those around us. I sped home and relayed the conversation to my husband. And we both laughed. Because I had been that lady.

I did this a couple more times, each time being just as embarrassing. The young guys at the counter, between their snickers and their strained explanations of having to serve a “diverse” customer base, always ultimately said the same thing: that their store was part of a chain and that decision was left up to the higher-ups. I was even given that number but never got a return call.

Occasionally as I drive past the store I wonder if my antics had done any good. Or if the whole thing had just been a totally embarrassing endeavor for all involved. What good could’ve come from asking the same guys the same question about something over which they had no control?

Last night, though, as I was driving home I glanced up at the sign outside the store and it read, “Manager Promoted, Apply Now.” I grinned. Maybe I had been talking to the right guys after all.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8