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When I Worked At Hollywood Video

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. 

  1. awwkitten said: you are full of the most fun surprises, elan! <3
  2. theyearofelan posted this