To be truly honest, this week has been pretty tame in Video Game Store land. No crazed pedophiles, no extremely stupid customers, just a couple of stores full of video games and me, tooling around behind the counter like robot in malaise. This is the perfect time to give you an honest glimpse of how a video game store runs when weirdos aren’t coming out of the woodwork.
Like all tertiary jobs, this one comes with its fair share of retarded and mindlessly repetitive tasks. The biggest one is disc cleaning and re-surfacing. Just about every disc that gets traded in to us gets a thorough cleaning. How people get substances like butter on discs is beyond me; what I have learned is that most people care as much about their game discs as they do about their fourth cousin, twice removed on their mom’s side of the family. Knowing that my trusty re-surfacing machine can buff out even the most treacherous of scratches, I am pretty lenient when it comes to adjusting the trade-in values on the games that come in but you would be amazed at how many “B” and “C” grades I dole out.
The re-surfacing machine is a pretty straightforward device. It is a cube with a flip up lid that has two pedestals on which to fasten two scratched and dirty discs. In the center of the cube is a circular pad that buffs the discs and before each cleaning, a surfacing compound is squeezed on to the pad. Once the discs are secured to the lid, the appropriately sized pad is fastened to the center, and the surfacing compound is on the pad, you press a button and the machine groans to life. After the machine has had its way with the two discs, you open the cube, unfasten the games, and proceed to wipe them down with a terry cloth. On a normal day, I will clean about fifty discs.
I am not sure how it works with other game stores but in mine, there is broken console crap just about everywhere that customers aren’t. The back room of my store is littered with dozens of gutted Playstations and cracked Gameboys. If Jack the Ripper preyed on game systems instead of hookers, he would have been at home in the rear of my store. In a flare of randomness, I found a dead Xbox in the bathroom the day before yesterday. I walked in to do my business and felt another presence in the room. I looked down and noticed a lifeless Xbox sitting in the middle of the floor. Strange.
Something else I do that is mundane but beyond some of my co-workers is alphabetizing games. When a game comes in, the disc is removed from the jewel case and placed in a sleeve. The sleeve is then placed into a drawer depending on the console that it goes to. The empty jewel cases are then placed on our selves after a pricing sticker has been smacked on to it. This process means that two things need be alphabetized. This process means that 75% of the time, at least one thing will be placed in the inappropriate spot. When I first started at the game store, one of my co-workers and I were busily sorting games and out of the blue he asked me whether L or S came first in the alphabet. Since then, I am sure of two things. First, my cheery fellow employee will probably have about 50 children. And second, the blame for any game that is misplaced can squarely fall upon his broad shoulders. The icing on the cake was that his name began with the letter S.
The bottom line is that my job isn’t anything to write home about. It is one of those things that can be picked up and dropped without much fanfare. Life goes on when I am not there and seems to pause itself when I am. For me, it isn’t remotely a career but more of an escape. I go there to zone out and relax and when I emerge from its bowels to go home for the night, I feel a little more at peace. The following day I happily retreat back into my sanctuary, placing my butt on a stool and polishing abused discs, succumbing to the placid daily grind that churns on behind the counter.