The day I claim intelligence, remind me of this day.
There is this new phenomenon across the Us that makes Americans lazy, as if they were not lazy enough to begin with. It's called the Redbox. It does sound like something that should come with a parental advisory warning, but it's actually kind of harmless.
A Redbox is a free standing red box (duh!) that dispenses DVDs. It's got a 'stupid guide to renting / returning a DVD from / to a Redbox' which looks something like this:
Now how hard can that be, given that you also have these instructions on the DVD. All you need is a credit card.
It says - 'return to redbox with side facing you'. With a very big Insert and arrow sign
So JP, my very sweet host goes to return the DVD... obviously after my famous film watching methods. Hours later, he comes back with the film. I of course ask him all the basic questions - Was the DVD facing the right way, did you select 'Return A DVD' on the menu....You would think this is obvious. But no, with JP nothing is. I will dedicate another post just for him. Yeah, he requires a whole post entire about him. We are talking about a guy gets lost 1 minute after driving out of his house on the way to the grocery store, or who makes me walk around a whole complex because he cannot remember where he parked the car. And being man, he would not take directions. A story for another day. As I said - very sweet. He assures me he did, and adds that there were many others that could not return their discs too.
I, the all-knowing one, offer to return the DVD. He drives me to Wal*Mart, which is where we the redbox is located. I leave JP in the car as I go work my magic. Confidently as I can, I walk to the kiosk. I follow all the instructions, insert the DVD and wait. 5 seconds later it rejects it. I try again, and again, and again and for good measure, again.
I walk back to the car and between JP and I, we manage to convince ourselves that the box has a problem. We go through the day's motions, and just before dinner, we decide to give it one more shot. The thing with Redbox is, you pay a dollar for any extra day you stay with the film after 9 pm. I get on my Blackberry and search for other Redbox locations. As luck would have it, I can access the webpage BUT i cannot do a search for the locations! We drive to Piggly Wiggly, Food Lion, name it. Finally, we pack outside the former and JP gets on phone to reach the customer service. We drive to McDonald’s, while he still on phone, because I remembered a mention about them being located at a McD's. I walk in to McD's and ask if they have a redbox. The look on the cashier's face is priceless. If I didn't already look ludicrous asking that question, I would have taken a picture of him. I spent a few minutes explaining what it is, and all through I’m thinking - if he does not recognize the name and the disc within the first glance, me spending 5 minutes explaining what it is will not help. Back to the packing lot, JP is still on phone, 20 minutes and counting.
Finally! He gets through. He explains that we rented the movie on Monday, tried to return it on Wednesday, and today, twice. She goes ahead to ask him the same questions i had asked him. That agitates him even more. She asks for the barcode number on the disc, I read it to him and she gives it to her. The lady on the other side asks if he is outside a redbox. He says no, we are about 5 miles away from the nearest one. And his voice is not the sweetest at that point. She patiently explains that he needs to be at the location so that she can manually program the box to accept the DVD. Does she have a direct line so that he does not need to wait 20 minutes again to get to her when he gets to a Wal*Mart? No, he has to call again. But, if he selects the Spanish option, he will get connected faster. Whatever. He hangs up and we drive to Wal*Mart. JP is seething. He goes on and on how he will never use a Redbox and how that company defrauds unsuspecting clients. I join him in working out how they are defrauding people using their cheap advertising of $1 a day movie rentals. I even work out how if they made it hard for people to return the movie, and they had about 50,000 people across the country fail to return by a day, and then they make $50,000 that day from credit cards. I'm such a genius, I think!
We get there, there is a guy at the machine, and he manages to rent a movie. That does not make sense. How can it keep dispensing if it cannot take back? I try once more. Nothing changes, still rejects. By now, JP has worked himself into a little ball of really really tight wool. Standing at the entrance of Wal*Mart is a little lady of about 80, complete with an employee tag. JP actually asks her for help. I try not to laugh as the little old lady ambles over. With her frail little hands, she tries her hand at what JP regards as the bane of his existence. JP is busy trying to tell her that we already tried everything we could think of, but she does not listen. Inwardly, I’m thinking, if it works for the little old lady, JP will surely shoot himself. But knowing his luck, he would probably miss. Luckily, it doesn't work. He leaves me at the kiosk and goes to look for customer service, guns blazing and all. As I stand there fiddling with the on-screen buttons, this 200-pound 13 year old kind walks over, talking on his cell phone about his new xbox.. I move over and let him return his. What do you know! His is accepted!
All along, I have been questioning what JP and I are doing. I have been thinking that we are doing something wrong, but cannot figure out what. We are following all the instructions...At the back of my mind, I'm thinking, If this machine has had a problem since yesterday, granted the number of people who use it, by now, it would either be closed, or we would have very irate customers lined up at the customer service desk. Given the hard economic times, tempers are running really high and patience wearing thin. And considering the fact that its $1 each day you keep the movie, that is money no one wants to waste.
The kid can obviously tell that I have been there a while. Without getting off the phone, he takes the DVD from me. He tells whoever is on the phone that he should consider ask for payment from Redbox, what with the many numbers of people he has been helping out. Apparently I'm not the first person that day he has helped!
So, he takes the disc from me, gives it a look over and shakes his head. Casually, he says 'The barcode should be facing the other side' and flips open the disc, turns it and shuts it again. Walks over to the machine, presses 'Return a Dvd' and voila! It is done.
JP and I have been returning the disc case facing the right way, but the disc inside facing the wrong way. It was being rejected because the machine could not read the barcode. Great. Now I have to go look for JP. I kinda don’t want to find him, because I feel really bad that I will have to tell him that it worked, yet I’m very sure he has been raising hell at the customer service. I meet him and the CS lady walking back to the box. He immediately sees that I don’t have the disc with me. The expression on his face goes from 'what the fuckety fuck did i just do' to ‘You gotta be kidding me' to ' oh, well'. He apologizes to the CS and we leave.
I explain to him what happened, and what we were doing wrong. He tries to feebly explain to me that he did try that buy I can tell that those are a dying mans’ fight for air arguments. As we drive off to diner, all he can say is how stupid he must have looked going off on the poor CS lady and how they now have him on camera. He is now worried that Wal*Mart will send out a warning to all grocery stores about this crazy white guy who cannot follow simple instructions….