When I was 16, I got my first job at a Hollywood Video. I was really excited because I loved movies and now I was going to get to rent them for free (as long as no one else wanted them, and as long as they weren’t new releases).
It wasn’t long before I became the youngest assistant manager in the entire Hollywood Video franchise. I was a workhorse. I loved it. I excitedly drove straight from school to work every day.
I didn’t mind the arguing of late fees with angry customers. I didn’t mind the popcorn vest and tuxedo shirt. I didn’t even mind the bow-tie and the sexual harassment from Gary, the store manager.
But there was one thing I simply could not tolerate: the way I was required to answer the phone in March of the year 2000:
"Hello and thank you for calling Hollywood Video Westwood Village on the corner of Wilshire and Gayley where you can pre-order Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace and be entered to win free rentals for one year. I’m Elan, how can I help you today?"
I’m not kidding. This was every time the phone rang. Arthur from corporate called at least three times a day to make sure everyone was answering the phone this way. This was mandatory.
I only got in trouble once at work, and it was when Gary found out I was never charging customers for not rewinding their videos. When he confronted me the conversation went a little bit like this:
Gary: You really need to charge non-rewinding fees, Elan.
Elan: Why? We have like 20 rewinders plugged in back here.
Gary: I’m not asking you what you think. I’m telling you the rules.
Needless to say, I never charged anyone a rewinding fee. I had high speed rewinders behind the register. It actually took me less time to rewind a video than it would for anyone at home.
After this conversation with Gary, I never followed the rules again. I answered the phone “Hello?” or “How do you do?”
I let kids rent R rated movies.
I played non-approved movies, like Alien, on the big screens.
It only took them a week to fire me. I remember turning in my popcorn vest and red bow tie. It was sad, because I would miss all the movies.
I learned two things at Hollywood Video.
1. Work hard.
2. Don’t follow stupid rules.
Everything’s been pretty good since I learned these two things.
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- awwkitten said: you are full of the most fun surprises, elan! <3
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