27 October 2008

Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover

"Damn, I wish I was your lover
I'll rock you till the daylight comes..."
- Sophie B. Hawkins, "Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover" (1992)

For about five years in the late 80's/early 90's I worked in a corporate music store in a mall in Colorado. First as a customer service clown and eventually as the assistant manager. I worked with some crazy people over that time, but there were a core group of four of us, including our manager, who were absolute music fanatics, and for the most part we had a blast. 

We loved music, but hated being in a mall, and detested most of the customers too. We were all in it for ourselves - for our love of music, to be able to get that next cool CD at a discount, and to find out when that missing re-release would finally come out. We were more than a bit pretentious and snobby and rolled our eyes constantly at the customers. Imagine "Hi Fidelity," with Phil as the steadying hand of John Cusak's Rob Gordon behind the counter.

A friend and former co-worker from back then recently regaled me with a funny incident from the store and it sparked a cavalcade of memories, a couple of which I thought I'd share here...

1) One day a man in his mid-thirties was walking up and down the aisles, scanning the titles of all the tapes and singles, obviously looking without much luck for a certain song. My friend, Corey, approached the man and asked if he could help him find anything. The man looked up from the wall of tapes and simply said, 
"Damn, I wish I was your lover."

This was the title of a song very popular at that time, a fact known full well by Corey, as we had been selling tons of it. Instead of pointing out the song to the man, Corey jumped back in mock-indignation and said in a loud voice, "Sir, I don't even KNOW you."

The vision of the man sputtering and stuttering with a bright red face as he tried to explain will remain with me always.

2) In 1990 one of the biggest sellers we had at the store, much to our chagrin, was the pop group Milli Vanilli. We hated Milli Vanilli. Despised their music, their fans, and their whole phenomenon. When the news broke that they didn't really sing on their records and lip-synched in their concerts we laughed to ourselves and decided unilaterally that anyone who had purchased one of their albums from our store would not be allowed a refund (which our corporate leaders had instructed us to do). I'm sure we sent more than a few young waifs out the door in tears.
KJT - Ft. Collins, CO. (1988-1993)


SFR said...

Wow! Those were the days! I recognize Phil, Jamie (often wondered what happened to him....) and you (of course), but who is the other guy in the picture?

redwithenvy said...

wow. i remember those faces. and what fantastic customer service erupted out of that store. and, naturally, the frozen yogurt shop across the way.

cae said...

Now waitaminute here. The other guy? That's me, dammit!

And the frozen yogurt shop across the way? That was me, too! (well, until Phil hired me away to Hastings)

Who the hell are you people, fer chrissakes?!?

(Jamie, by the by, is a recording engineer - he owns his own studio in Denver: Module Overload Studios)