Recollections: At The Record Store

by Andrew Patterson

Not so long ago, I got (what was, at the time) my dream job: I was hired at a record store. I assume it’s every music geek’s dream to work at a record store. It certainly was mine from the time I paid upwards of $20 for a cassette copy of Me First And The Gimme Gimme’s Have A Ball at the Moncton Radioland in my early teens, through to when I was 17 and saw High Fidelity for the first time, and up to when I was 22 and I started working at this shop, where I scored a mint condition 7” copy of one of my all-time favorite songs when some fool sold it to me for $3.

I have so many fond memories of my two-year stint there: I met all kinds of wonderful music lovers, was hassled by plenty of downtown crazies, worked with some of the coolest people (who turned out to be geeks just like me) and even had a jam space that we all shared above the shop.

Here are some things I learned at the record store:

  1. The first two Bee Gees records are really, really good.
  2. The more you listen to Paul Stanley’s rants from Kiss Alive on repeat, the funnier they get.
  3. One of the best records to ever come out of Halifax is Sixtoo‘s Duration.
  4. Too many people care about The Allman Brothers.
  5. Not enough people care about David Grubbs:

*   *   *

Recently, I recounted an anecdote from my time working at the shop to a friend, who responded by saying:

“When you start working at a record store, those are the things you hope for. That’s what you’re in it for”.

Here is that anecdote:

It was a rainy Saturday afternoon which meant there were three or four clerks working and hardly anyone coming in the store. Usually we’d spend those days criticizing whatever records got put on or jokingly mistaking the sound of one of us vacuuming as the new Merzbow record. However, this afternoon we had a visitor.

He was disheveled, off-kilter, giving off a pretty intense odour and rambling to himself. He was grey-haired and red-faced; clearly he was a little hard up and, rather than being annoyed as we often were by stragglers of a younger and more obnoxious kind, I think we all felt a little sad for this guy. He came up to the cash and incoherently accused one of us of murdering someone dear to him and proceeded to wander to the back end of the store, half-dancing and half-falling over.

There were no other customers in the store and, along with feelings of pity, we were all a little freaked out by his jerky motions: over the in-store speakers The ReplacementsLet It Be played, and this man laughed to himself, jumped up and down, twirled about, while intermittently resting on the DVD racks or sitting on the floor. He seemed unpredictable.

After asking him to leave a few times (without any sign of acknowledgement), the manager decided to call the cops. Within about five minutes, two police officers arrived. As soon as the walked in the door, a look of slight relief and familiarity came over their faces.

“Gary” the taller one said sternly. “Okay Gary, it’s time to get out of here.”

The other one turned to us and said “He’s alright. He’s just been acting up lately.”

As they ushered him out in a friendly, almost loving way (the way a parent might help their drunken teenager into the backseat of a car after a first-drunk) the nostalgia-tinged, confusion-focused ‘Sixteen Blue’ played in the store.

Gary rambled quietly under the arm of one of the policemen.

“I know Gary, I know” said the shorter cop in consolation.

After Gary and his escorts left, there was a silence amongst us. Usually we’d make fun of someone, or tease one another about being scared, but something was humbling about this experience. Feeling humbled wore off quickly, though, as it always did at that place:

“Kinda funny,” I piped up “Gary dancing to ‘Gary’s Got A Boner‘.”