Confessions Of A Record Store Junkie, Part II

I really hate coming in here. The clerks are buffoons, bereft of even the barest semblance of musical taste; they’re impossibly rude and beholden to the ‘sounds of the day’, anything that has been championed by Pitchfork, which for the last 5 years or so has been any smelly guy with a beard and a six string acoustic that can competently regurgitate a Jim Croce song, or the horrid, faux psychedelic Animal Collective. Sad, really. I blame NPR, but that’s a topic for another day.

You know, I can take rude clerks if they have the musical pedigree to back it up. But these kids, with their Devendra Banhart Tee shirts and skull rings and ear plugs (or whatever the hell you call those things), barely 20 years old, telling the 30 something at the counter that they should put back that vintage Joe Jackson record and replace it with a Goddamn Bright Eyes CD? I mean, Jesus, what’s the world coming to here?

Today I’m here to cash in a Raley’s shopping bag full of old CD’s for trade. Most of the stash for trade in the bag has been replaced with new, far superior reissues during recent months; others are just stuff I really don’t listen to anymore. The clerk dutifully takes my ID and tells me he’ll call me when he’s done ‘analyzing” the contents. I nod and go crate digging. 20 minutes later he calls my name, or what he perceives my name to be. “EYEan”, he calls. “I’m ready for ya,”. Eyean. Jesus, man, my name is Ian; two freakin’ syllables. The last time I looked there were 300,000 “Ian’s” in England alone, and over half a million in the States. A fairly common name, I think. It’s that half-wit from 90210, isn’t it? EYEAN ZEIRING, or whatever the *&*^ his name is. Whatever. I walk up to the counter and the dude says “$70 in trade, or $45 cash.” I tell him I’ll take the trade. He says, “By the way, can I say that your son has pretty good taste in music?” What? Oh, I get it. “No, I don’t have a son. These are mine.” “Oh, sorry sir.” “Hey, let me ask you a question,” I say. “How does it feel to be in your mid 20’s and still living with your parents and working part time at a record store for $10.50/hr?” “What’s the Grand Scheme, your Big Plan, your raison d’etre, if I may be so bold to ask?”

The kid looks blankly at me for a second and for one horrifying moment I think he’s going to cry. But then he stiffens and says sleepily “You don’t know me.” I want to scream at him and tell him yes, I DO know you. I know that your diet consists of corn chips and bacon sandwiches and hashish; I know you take a shower every four days, and I know you don’t own a razor. I know that you spend a quarter of your earnings on lottery tickets and I know that you don’t have a girlfriend, although you tell everyone that’ll listen that you do. I can smell that you smoke clove cigarettes, which only ups the “douch-bag” factor by about 50% and perhaps worst of all I just know that you could give a shit about music.

But I don’t say any of those things. Because I feel sorry for the kid, and I can tell by his eyes that he knows. He knows. Worst of all, I think he can tell from my eyes that I know that he knows that I know. So I let it go, and I apologize, and take my receipt and continue my quest for that ever elusive Jazz Butcher CD.

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