For two years in college I worked at a grocery store as the photo lab guy.
During my employment, the store was moved after my first year. Initially that department was a combination where we did video rentals, photo processing, and sold perfume.
When the store moved to its new location they decided to eliminate the movie rentals. The perfume counter got its own section, and I no longer got to spritz my coworker with Prescriptives Flirt for fun.
Before the store closed and moved, however, we needed to settle up all the outstanding videos that customers hadn’t returned. There was a long list of delinquent accounts, and for some reason I believe several copies of the movie Anaconda were unaccounted.
This was at a time where the average price of a movie to a video rental store was about $90 or so. But it wasn’t just customers that had not returned the VHS tapes.
I, myself, had borrowed over 20 movies without officially checking them out. Even though we had one of those big deal security magnet things that would scream like a bastard if you even got near it, movies kept disappearing. This was because Joy (my co-worker) and I kept borrowing movies without paying the $1.99.
In the few days leading up to the store moving, Joy came to me to discuss our plan.
Joy: So, how many movies do you have?
D.J.: Twenty. You?
Joy: Twenty. What’s the plan?
D.J.: Hmm. No idea.
We were holding about four thousand dollars of cinema that certainly did not belong to us. I’m pretty sure since we conspired, we were looking about a possible felony conviction.
But our objective was never to steal. We just took the movies home that weren’t rented, watched them and then brought them back the next day. Except we weren’t great with the “bringing them back the next day” part.
So, here we were, two 21 year olds with 40 movies, and a problem. It’s not like we could have dumped them in the overnight dropoff slot. First of all, these movies were never officially rented. It doesn’t take a detective who specializes in video store robberies (yes, that’s a real specialty – I checked) to figure out that the only logical culprits were the people that could safely move product past the metal detector gate.
If we had forty days, we might have been able to slide one back in per day, behind it’s respective box cover without arousing suspicion. But we had two days until the official close of the rental department.
So, we kept the tapes. We weren’t thieves. Well, not intentionally, anyway. It just worked out that way.
I’m pretty sure our manager Barbara told us when doing the books that a ton of tapes had been stolen. We shrugged, walked away, and went home to watch Waiting for Guffman for the sixth time courtesy of our employer.
Joy and I never learned any real moral lesson from this experience. At the new store, where we worked exclusively as photo lab technicians. the both of us never once paid for our own photos, despite always taking pictures at parties and on vacations.
I bet between the two of us, we never actually stole anything other than photos and videos in our entire lives. Well, one time I borrowed an air conditioner from my friend Peter, didn’t like it, and upgraded to a better one by trading it in and spending an extra $60. When Peter asked where he air conditioner was, I just shrugged. It never occurred to me it wasn’t mine to upgrade and keep.
I thought about marrying Joy, as we were very compatible. We both liked stealing from our employer, but only minor things like movies and 3″x5″ matte finish prints. We were both attractive, and wore literally the same outfit to work each day.
Sadly, it didn’t work out, and in fact, we never shared even a kiss. We were too close as friends. We did, however, share a passion for making duplicate copies of gross photos (usually naked townies who seemed to participate in swinger parties) and sharing them with each other.
This, too, is stealing. Technically.
Note : I finally did get rid of all the videos in 2004, just before purchasing my condo. It was time to shed this bounty, and I posted it on Craigslist under the free section. Four Mexicans came to pick it up within the hour.
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