Sunday, 19 April 2020

Welcome to 1997

Welcome back to Heavy Ghetto and welcome to 1997. With the wake of the current pandemic I figured what better time than now to give life to my monster again.

I pondered starting this post off with a recap of 1996, but upon further investigation of my previous posts (which I hadn't read in ages) I discovered one of the last chapters of the story I left off on was entitled "1996: Year In Review" so naturally there is no need for a recap. 

If you feel the desire to bring yourself up to speed since it's been awhile, feel free to read that entry before continuing on with this one. Now let us move forward.

As I stated in one of my last update posts, I am now striving to post on somewhat of a more frequent basis, but these entries with have more substance than those prior in hope's of getting back up to speed and giving this blog some legs again. It may only be one post a month or so but it's better than nothing I suppose...NOW let’s move forward...

Despite 1996 being somewhat of a dismal year, 1997 had started off with a bang. I had finally landed what I considered my "dream job" working in a record store. Seeing as how important music is to me I assumed it couldnt get any better than this.

My good friend and former band mate Paully had actually tipped me off that his girlfriend Jen could possibly hook me up with a job at HMV records.

I had applied to HMV in the Bramalea City Centre annually since it had opened almost a decade prior, yet heartbreakingly I never received a call back. Now I had an interview lined up at the HMV store inside The Eaton Centre in downtown Toronto.
It was a bit of a jaunt but I was excited none the less. I was still living with Jay and Julie in an appartment across from the Bramalea City Centre, so I eagerly headed to its infamous bus stop and hopped on the Go bus to Yorkdale.

From Yorkdale it was a quick commute on the subway, which I eventually exited at the Queen street stop that attached to Eaton Centre. I was excited and nervous for my interview.

I headed into HMV and met Jim the store manager. Jim took me into his office in the back of the store and proceeded to "interview" me. I use the term loosely as the "interview" was mere minutes if that, with Jim proclaiming "Jen says you want to work here. The job is yours if you want it" Obviously I accepted the gracious offer and before I knew it I was already on my way back home to Brampton.

I couldn't believe how easy the whole process was! As I stated earlier I had applied at HMV numerous times in the past and never received so much as a call back, but now my eyes were finally opened to the way things worked in this company.
Prior experience and work history made absolutely no difference, it really came down to who you know, something that would stick with me as I grew as a man in the years to come. I had learned a valuable life lesson and more importantly I had finally landed my "dream job".

Before I knew it I was officially working for HMV. My first day consisted of learning how to operate the cash register, redeeming gift certificates, and being instructed as to exactly what music we were permitted to play. Unfortunately we could only play CDs that were in the "top 10" chart, which meant mostly pop drivel.

We were however allowed to play any CD that was on the sale rack, and thankfully there was some decent stuff on sale at the time including the newest Faith No More album "King for a day fool for a lifetime", Primus' "Sailing the seas of cheese" and the first release of a new band called "Porno for Pyros". Needless to say I always had these 3 in the rotation on shuffle in our 5 disc CD player.

We also had a VCR under the registers that broadcasted on all the televisions simultaneously in the store. Although there was no volume it was nice to be able to watch movies in my downtime.

Located behind our registers as well was another multi disc CD player that controlled the listening stations, where people could put headphones on and preview music before deciding if they wanted to purchase it or not.

I quickly learned from a fellow co-worker named Lennox, that it was fun to fuck with people who were loitering at the listening stations or watching TV for extended periods of time by shutting the power off on them. It was hilariously amusing to see them stand there in confusion trying to figure out what had happened. 

I caught on to the job very quickly and my boss Jim considered me one of his fastest and most efficient cashiers. It got to the point where I could tell a customer their total before I'd even punched it into the till. Most CDs were generally the same few price points, all of which I had memorized after tax.

One of the most exciting aspects of the job for me personally was learning the fact that we as employees were entitled to make purchases at store cost, meaning whatever the store paid for a CD was the same price we would pay should we choose to make a purchase. 

Needless to say my eyes gleamed at this opportunity as I love music more than anything, but my plans were stymied when I learned there wasn't much mark up on alot of CDs. Most new releases were $11.99 cost price and would generally sell for 14.99 retail price. Older CDs ranged anywhere between 14.94 to well past the $20 mark.

I was a bit defeated to learn I would not really save THAT much money buying CDs at cost price. It was still very cool to be able to go into the computer system and see cost price on any item in the store, which led to my next discovery.

I had always been a fan of films and collecting them, although most VHS tapes at the time were $20 and up, so I opted to dub tapes quite often as I've mentioned previously in the story. One day at work I decided to peruse the movie section and was surprised to find the Troma film "Redneck Zombies" I eagerly ran to the computer with it and was blown away to see how low the cost price was in comparison to the marked up ticket price. I stashed it aside to buy after my shift had ended.

Naturally I started checking costs of other films, the most expensive cost price I came across was 11.99 for the movie Scarface which was actually 2 tapes. It was regularly priced around $30-$35 so once again I stashed it to buy after work.
Over the next few months my VHS collection had grown vastly and rapidly at little cost to myself, and it was a good feeling to actually own legit copies as opposed to dubs. We seemed to get Troma films in quite often and I always snatched them up as well as countless other goodies.

I ended up befriending our floor walker who's job was to pretend he was shopping while attempting to catch shoplifters. We hit it off quite well, and being the master thief that I was in a past life, I was consistently assisting him with busting people. The only clause was I had to be 100% sure someone had stolen or else would be in hot water for any false arrests. Needless to say our losses went down in numbers dramatically.

Another scam people used to try and pull was finding a receipt that wasn't theirs and attempt to "return" said CDs on receipt that they never actually purchased. Alot of times they would try the scam first at our superstore on 333 Yonge st. After being denied they would try it again at our store. Little did they know the employees at the superstore would call our store and pre-warn us, so it was always a satisfying feeling having the jump on them and denying any returns to which they would become very heated.

All in all I was loving my new job and I looked forward to hopefully learning about more fringe benefits in the weeks and months to come...

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