You young folks have no idea what you’re missing. A trip to Blockbuster Video was always exciting. You’d walk down the aisles of VHS tapes with your date, and the night felt rife with possibilities. You’d lightheartedly argue about which genre you would choose. Action? Science Fiction? Comedy? Romance? Such choices could mean the difference between relationship failures and successes.
Then, once you’d decided on your genre, you’d have maybe a hundred videos to choose from. Wow! Such variety! First to be eliminated were the ones one of you had already seen and weren’t willing to see again. Then you’d pick up boxes and read the backs, hoping for one that would appeal to you both. Sometimes you’d come away with 3 or 4. And then you’d spot the new releases and grab one of those instead. (“Quick, before someone else grabs it!”) New releases were highly sought after. It was fun to be on society’s cutting edge.
When you’d go to the counter to rent your choices, you’d be faced with polite signs that said, “Be kind. Please rewind.” And you’d have to run the gauntlet of microwave popcorn and raisinettes. Then you’d be told when your selections would be due back.
I get it. In the age of Netflix, this all seems like a monumental hassle. But it was a novelty, back then. An entertainment adventure. It was a thing. It really was.
I even applied for a job there, once. You had to provide your own light blue oxford shirt, khaki pants, and brown shoes and belt. And after you filled out your application, you had to take this really weird personality test, full of yes or no statements. The only question I remember is, “I love the Three Stooges. Yes/No.” I wasn’t hired, so maybe I got that one wrong. But I will forever wonder what that answer was supposed to indicate about me.
I also, at one time, seriously considered getting a job at Blockbuster corporate headquarters in Mexico City. Finally, I’d actually be using my college degree in Spanish. But no. I can’t remember if I didn’t follow through or if I didn’t get hired.
Either way, it’s a good thing, because back then there were 9,000 stores worldwide, and Blockbuster seemed like a winning star on which to hook one’s wagon. Now, the very last Blockbuster is in Bend, Oregon.
So you’ll probably never know what you were missing, young’un. Yours is a cold, lonely, digital world.