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Confessions of a GameStop Employee - Part Four

Scott Jones | 19 Oct 2010 12:03
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Not more than 20 minutes later, a man the size and shape of Hagrid from the Harry Potter movies lumbered into the store and placed the missing Hey You, Pikachu! headset on the counter in front of me. "I'm so sorry for this," he said. He explained that his son would never be allowed back in the store.

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"Kids do stupid stuff sometimes," I said. I thanked him for his help.

Once Hagrid was gone, I set to repackaging the headset. Only now, in this moment, did I realize that the headset was a combo deal and that it included not only the headset but also the Hey You, Pikachu! game cartridge itself.

The kid still had the best part of the package: the game. Maybe he wasn't such a terrible criminal after all.

We couldn't sell the headset alone. After a few minutes of introspection, I decided to dial the number again. Again, the dad answered. Again, I set about trying to explain the situation to him.

The dad, this time, was practically sputtering with rage. He very calmly said to me, "I'll be back shortly with the game." Just before he hung up the phone, I heard him shout, "OK, WHICH ONE OF YOU HAS HEY YOU, PIKACHU?"

Click.

Twenty minutes later, Hagrid silently walked into the store. He placed the Hey You, Pikachu! cartridge on the counter. He walked out.

One truly valuable skill I gained during my stint behind the counter was that I learned how to talk to strangers in a way that made them actually listen to me. I learned how to say "No" without seeming rude, learned how to get a crowd of people to line up in an orderly fashion during the holiday season; even learned how to effectively ask sugared-up children to stop running and screaming around the store. I still find myself constantly using what I call my "GameStop voice" - this voice of polite authority, this voice that I certainly didn't have before I worked at the store - in my day-to-day life.

Being a gamer, I still have to go into GameStop once in awhile. I hate it. I try to avoid it at all costs. But the end is near for GameStop. Digital distribution is already chipping away at their business model. A day will come when the lights go out on GameStops everywhere. It will happen. It's inevitable. Might be next year. Might be in 10 years. But make no mistake, it's coming.

And, as strange as it is for us to imagine using a Telegram to send a message to someone, a hundred years from now people will recall a quaint time when we used to have to actually get off our couches and go to a place to purchase actual physical copies of our videogames.

Decades from now, I'll gather my kids or maybe my grandkids around - kids no older than the scamps who stole the Hey You, Pikachu! headset-cartridge combo that day - and tell them stories about my time behind the counter.

And they'll listen, of course, because what I will tell them will be interesting and strange and dramatic, and because I'll be telling them using my GameStop voice.

Scott Jones is the co-host of G4/Tech TV's Reviews on the Run. You can read more of his writing at The Jones Report. He currently lives and works in Vancouver, British Columbia with his two cats and a healthy amount of self-doubt.

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