Back when I was in college, I worked in the camera and electronics department of a chain department store. It was the days of $1,000+ “camcorders” – even the latest-tech small ones of the day were larger than the standard palm-sized stuff of today. Here are two true anecdotes from my time selling these instruments.
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A man and an obviously pregnant woman came in to find a camcorder. While the husband talked with me about the various features of the cameras, the wife was sitting down on an exercise machine in the nearby sporting goods department. After a few minutes, I noticed the woman breathing quickly—it looked very odd to someone who had never seen Lamaze before.
I mentioned her breathing, “Is she alright?”
The man looked over at her and said, “She’s in labor.”
“Now? Here?” I said, shocked.
“Yeah,” he said, “We’re getting the camera to tape the birth.”
I speeded up my explanations and got a camcorder in the couple’s hands as quickly as I could. They left happy, and hurriedly.
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We kept the camcorders in a glass cabinet behind the glass case-counter. The cabinets were locked and we had specific protocols for showing the camcorders: never more than one camera out at a time (put the first back before taking out a second), never leave a camera on the counter unattended, etc.—some cameras cost as much as $1,500, so theft was a big concern.
I walked up to the counter one time and saw an unattended camcorder sitting on top. I looked around and saw no one around. I figured that someone had left it out accidentally, so I picked it up to put it away. At that moment, I didn’t have a key for cabinet, so I took the camera into our secure electronics storeroom and set it on a shelf. I then went to help a customer elsewhere in the department.
Unknown to me, a customer had brought in his own camera to get guidance on how to use it. A salesman was helping him, and they had stepped over to a rack of blank video tapes. (They were around a corner, just out of my sight when I walked up and saw the camera on the counter.)
When they came back to the counter, the camera was missing. (I was already gone from the spot.) Both the customer and salesman were concerned. The salesman called up to the customer service desk, at the front of the store, and asked if they had seen anyone leave with a camcorder. The woman answering the phone had seen the customer enter the store with a camcorder, and she thought that’s what the salesman meant, so she said, “Yes.”
The salesman, holding the phone, standing with the customer, said, “You did?”
The customer heard that and got immediately upset. Without waiting another moment to hear the salesman get clarification, he bolted. He ran to the front of the store, out the exit doors.
The entrance and exit of our store was inside a small mall. The entrance of the mall near our store was the standard glass doors in a huge glass wall. The customer ran full out toward the mall exit, misjudged where the doors were, and smashed right into the glass wall. Witnesses in a small restaurant beside the mall entrance described what happened. The man hit a glass panel and bounced back about ten feet to fall on his back, in a daze.
Hearing about all the excitement, I went out into the mall to see what happened for my self. Someone had already taken the man to the hospital, but the blood and mucus was still on the unbroken glass pane where his nose had hit. The same signs were on the floor about ten feet back from the window. Witnesses said the man wasn’t seriously injured, so it seemed alright for folks to laugh at the accident.
A few minutes later, back in the electronics department, I learned why the man had run out of the store—he thought someone had stolen his camera, and he apparently intended to run out and get it back.
I told my manager what I had done with the camera, and he told me to just not tell anyone else. I didn’t tell anyone else at the store, but I’ve been telling this story to friends for years since.
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I bet you expected to hear about some embarassing video recordings. Well, there was one incident, but it really isn’t as intricate or interesting as the above tales.