Gnawing video rental mistress guilt
I didnt want to go in, but I know its unavoidable.Before leaving the house, I considered a disguise, but the standard fake beard and glasses doesnt work so well for someone who has a beard and wears glasses. Shaving and going in drag seemed to be an act of someone far more desperate than I which is to say that I considered it, then realized it would just be too much work.OK. Lets just get this over with. I take a deep breath, kick the snow off my shoes, open the door and march straight to the counter. Hi, I mumble, looking at the floor.Oh, hi Barry, he replies.Dammit! He remembers me. Id hoped that the time thats elapsed would have reduced me to a generic face but no. He remembers. Which means, … he knows.Uh, … I reply. Do you have Lost, season 3, disc 3?Yeah, I think so. Hang on. Hes being awfully friendly. But why? Could it be that he thinks Ive just been too busy to rent movies for the past two years? Could it be that he thinks Ive gone on a reading binge, sworn off visual entertainment? Could it be that he doesnt know? Here it is, he says, handing the DVD across the counter to me. Couldnt get this one on Netflix, huh?HE KNOWS!Uh, Netflix …? I stammer. Well, ha ha, I, uh, ummm, well, you see I, ha ha …And on and on that goes for the next few minutes while he rings me up.There was no accusation in his voice when he said the N-word, it was all very matter-of-fact. He clearly knows Ive taken a video rental mistress, and if hes slighted or threatened by this, theres no trace of it I can detect.But that doesnt stop my own guilt from gnawing at me.The truth is, no, I couldnt get it on Netflix. At least not fast enough for my needs, which are greedy and immediate and all-consuming like those of a hungry infant. The Netflix queue said that thered be a short wait for that particular disc. Short wait? Oh, I think not. Short wait, despite my having just written it three times in a row, is NOT in my vocabulary.So I had to come crawling back to my video store, battered and ashamed.This video store is local, noncorporate, independently owned by someone whos actually part of my community. In other words, its really cool. Netflix (along with other mega-corporate video rental stores) has put places like this on the endangered species list, and I, by Netflicking, am guilty of being part of the demise of something that I actually cherish. Yet I cant seem to stop myself.Netflix is the DVD rental equivalent of Wal-Mart for me cheap, convenient and faceless. Yet, like Wal-Mart, I shop there anyway. Except in the case of Wal-Mart, theres not always a blatant alternative. I mean, theres no locally owned place right around the corner from my local Wally World where I can get cheap plastic crap that previously I never knew existed but suddenly cant live without. Well, not any more, there isnt.But there IS an alternative to Netflix an actual video store where I can stroll in, say hello, ask opinions about certain films, make suggestions, get suggestions, maybe even see a few people I know as they come in to choose or drop off a movie. Local. Community. Grassroots. Down home. Im all for these things. Right? RIGHT!?Yeah, but when my first wad of beckoning, firetruck-red Netflix envelopes arrived in my mailbox, nearly two years ago, well, … that was that. My video store visits came to a grinding halt. I sold out my principles so fast I didnt even have time to get a receipt. My flimsy community-minded stance was soon muffled beneath the pile of unwatched Netflix DVDs.Nice to see you again, the store owner said as he handed me my change. And, as far as I could tell, he actually meant it.I walked out into the snow and zipped up my coat, trying to shield myself from the bitter chill of my own hypocrisy.(Next time: Barry sheepishly returns to his dentist after a few years spent on http://www.DIY-dentistry.com).Read more about Barry Smiths adventures at http://www.barrysmith.wordpress.com.