I STOOD BEHIND four. Individuals? Maybe. They were all buying the same game and apparently had the same barber. Meanwhile patience was being exercised into a vicious sweat. They all needed to simultaneously drop dead, providing me with bodies for stepping stones, in order to finally get to the till to buy my game, which of no coincidence was the same one they were buying. I knew what game I was buying before they did.
Next thing I knew, I was treating myself to an audio only rendition of Let The Bodies Hit the Floor in my mind, but the lyrics were fragmented apart from the chorus. It was like a scratched CD only my mind shouldn’t have scratches or be skipping anything, apart from early childhood and multiple traumas – that was all it was required to do. My eyes, what else? caught sight of a sign by one of the tills. ‘Scratched disc? We’ll repair them £2 per disc’.
As I contemplated handing my brain over for correction I realised my internal journey had killed a significant amount of hands: before me was a till about to serve me.
But no! A fiendish twist. Seller and buyer were locked in a last gasp conversation despite me definitely having seen a receipt get handed over.
“..if you sign up here and take part in our survey you could win £1000.” Uneasy look from buyer. Noticeable lean toward exit.
“All you have to do is go on the website and answer a few questions. Quote the number at the bottom of the receipt and a grand could be yours to spend in store.”
Buyer nodded. Yes, yes. I’ll do that he lied, very convincingly. Both myself and seller were sold, picturing him taking the time to carefully open the lid and boot up his laptop when he got home, and fucking about looking for the website. The man had a game to play! Entering another reality was all he gave a shit about, not a competition.
Finally! My time had arrived. I was asked how I was, apologies for the wait. Fine customer service – so far. But lips did not stop moving then, they flapped repeatedly, incessantly. He had played the game already and commended me on my choice, telling me of the excellence that awaited me, an obvious excellence that I suspected months before release date. I am excellent, only a game of this calibre and excellence would interest me, being excellent myself and possessing fine judgement with which to refine this aspect of my self.
I nodded in the right spots as his tongue slung unnecessary words forth: enough to keep him yakking, enough to prevent myself being thought of as rude. It felt like my ears were sliding down the side of my head, migrating to quieter climes.
Had I heard about the new Shooty-Shooty-Bang-Bang due out next month? Did I want to pre-order it? Yes and no. What about the inevitable Super Mario 36? No! But it did not end there. I was about to be witness to a glimmer of his friend zone. Personal info was about to be divulged. He told me dead eyed that he was really excited about a new experimental platformer called Noun Verb Noun.
A cruel smile hijacked my face. I grinned and looked him dead in the eyes willing his rubbery, saliva ridden lips to shrivel up and fall off. Sentences of faux-ju ju spilled into my head, repeating over and over. Noticing my manic state, he stopped for a split second. Blood rushed back into other parts of his body, previously deprived as the tongue was hogging it all. He must have had the coldest feet…
And bam! back into it. There was a special offer on today on selected titles, some sort of buy one get one half price shenanigans. Assurance was offered that they were highly rated games, it was a promotion for anyone buying the game I was buying, just like it was a promo for anyone who walked through the door. Wow, didn’t I feel good, privileged even. Like I’d risen above the other customers in status. As if I’d just banked 100000 life g’s.
Now, this guy might be mistaken for a master-seller. You know, could sell ice to an eskimo/inuit, water to a well (which come to think of it isn’t as ridiculous a concept as it first appears, as people do throw money into wells like they do fountains) – that kind of thing.
You’d be wrong. He had the appearance of a slick seller of hardware but in reality he was all mouth. Had he been born with nothing but lips and a tongue his life would be no different from what I was seeing right now. He talked and chatted. Inane, often shooting off on tangents. He tired customers into mistakes the same way you tire out a marlin. Engaging in conversation was the death of your next ten minutes, a living, experienced fatality. Coming out the other side felt like a rebirth.
DO YOU WANT TO CONTINUE? YES/
Did I want a years insurance on the disc? Because you know, they get scratched don’t they? Not if you’re careful I thought. Well he highly recommended it and looked hurt when I declined firmly. Sympathy will get you nowhere. Did any of my friends play games? If so I could sign them up for a loyalty card. I have no friends I smiled. He genuinely looked a little disturbed by the delivery. Ha! I’d disrupted his routine. I could see it there in his faltering movements. Whatever it was that he was about to yak was put on the back burner.
I was winning this round. I was the controller. Turning around I smiled smugly at the twist of customers behind me. Watch and learn it said. Fidgeting with a pen and staring mouth agape at the till, the guy went silent. An error had occurred. CTRL ALT DEL. CTRL ALT DEL. CTRL ALT DEL. Without another word he took my cash and handed my change back, tearing off the receipt, all in one smooth motion. No mention of online prizes. No upselling bullshit. His manager would have a fit. Then I realised from small gold lettering on a cheap plastic badge; he was the manager.
Somehow, he managed to stabilise his system and ended the transaction with a ‘Have a good day’ and smiled. In fact he seemed to have somehow regained his composure. Strange. I thought nothing of it until I got home. My plastic bag of future funtimes was opened, the game tipped out and receipt glanced at out of habit rather than any suspicion. £29.99 for the game, yep, yep. Well, just below that line was another line of laser printed text. Another item was there for £5.99. DISC INSUR. Disc insurance? You slippery bastard.