Wednesday, September 11, 2013
If you want to see the real face of America, stand in line at a Redbox kiosk. You’ll see an amazing cross-segment of humanity. I call them the Redbox Regulars.
The good ol’ boy renting anything starring Bruce Willis or Larry the Cable Guy.The hipster chick with long, straight hair and a lip ring. Her indie pick features an ensemble cast of quirky 20-somethings.The elderly couple choosing Disney movies for the grandkids’ sleepover.The sweet soccer mom renting the straight-to-DVD flick about a misfit soccer team that somehow sweeps the state championships. Extra points if the coach is a cute widower.The best friends picking romantic comedies for a girls’ night that includes Dove bars and a bottle of tequila.As you can tell, I spend a lot of time in line at Redbox.
My husband and I watch many movies at home—it’s why God made big-screen TVs. And my cheapskate gene adores Redbox. It’s the best deal in town.
Well, I do have a couple of issues, but knowing me you knew that already, right?
Widdle Baby likes movies starring Sandra Bullock or Matt Damon, and/or spunky kids. (“We Bought a Zoo” was a big hit with him.) He doesn’t like historical sagas and I despise musicals, which is why we haven’t seen “Les Miserables” or “The Great Gatsby.” I like movies that feature zombies and explosions, preferably triggered by zombies. I don’t like sci-fi or animated characters. We both like Westerns (and “Tombstone” is tops, in my opinion.)
Mostly what we do is pick movies no-one has ever heard of, and hope for the best.
The other issue is, I panic if someone walks up and stands in line behind me. Not because I think I’m about to be mugged (that never crosses my mind, which means I’m a perfect target), but because I worry about making people wait. Waiting makes me nuts, and I assume the person behind me is just as crazy. So my face gets hot, my mouth gets dry and the screen becomes a blur. I know how neurotic all this sounds, but it’s the truth.
(Widdle, on the other hand, simply turns, acknowledges the other person with a friendly, “Hey, man,” and goes back to choosing a movie. The other person invariably smiles and says, “It’s all good.” Widdle is a normal person.)
You know, I left out my favorite Redbox Regular. Maybe you’ll run into him one day.
It was a Monday morning. He was at least 80, short, bowlegged, built like a fireplug. He was holding up the sunscreen with one hand, with the other resting on his hip. He peered intently at the screen through battered reading glasses, occasionally stabbing at it with a gnarled finger.
“Huh!” he said. Then a few seconds later, “Huh! Huh!” After several more “Huhs!” he dropped the screen and turned to face me.
“How does this work?” he asked. Believe it or not, I enjoy helping people. So I said, “I’ll show you.”
I returned our movie and then showed him how to select a movie and pay for it. As the DVD glided smoothly into my hand I said, “That’s it. Isn’t that cool?”
He looked at the kiosk and then back at me. “I’ve been in two wars, and this is the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen,” he said.
We both started laughing, right there on the sidewalk. It was a great moment. Rated PG.
Julie R. Smith, who doesn’t quite trust Netflix, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.