Welcome! You've happened upon the Retail Veterans Day Project 2004 website. Now go away. You'll be better off for it.

All right, fine, but don't say I didn't warn you.

When we were all retail workers, a couple of friends and I used to talk about how when we weren't working retail anymore, we'd go to our old jobs on Black Friday and bask in what we didn't have to deal with anymore. In 2004, Bryan Brothers and I did just that.

The Retail Veterans Day Project, as it was originally intended, was going to be myself and whoever else wanted to come along going to the busiest stores in the area armed with a portable miniature tape recorder, three microcassettes and a camera. From the stories I had heard and my own personal experiences with similar conditions (such as the day the fifth Harry Potter book was released to a rabid and crude New Orleans public), I was anticipating a scene rife with entertainment potential to be made all the better with a few absurdist interviews with willing customers and workers. I thought there might even be arguments or fights to document!

Sure, it all *sounds* like a good idea when you're just talking about it. It always does. Heed my words, you are preparing to waste a lot of your time. There, now I'm blameless. Off we go then.

I woke up and called Bryan (who had brilliantly decided to get rip roaring drunk the night before) some time between 5:30am and 6:00am, which was about four hours after he had crashed for the night. Shockingly, he was still set on doing this, promising he'd be on his way to scoop me up after he finished his coffee.
While waiting for him to arrive, I stepped outside to enjoy the cool air, drop a few product brand names and test the tape recorder that was going to reside hidden in my shirt pocket for the rest of the morning.


Bryan showed up. Since nobody strangely wanted to loan us their digital camera, we headed off to one of the eight thousand Walgreens on the westbank so I could pick up a cheap disposable camera. Bryan located the cameras while the Walgreens entrance bell incessantly makes its presence known to the world. This is my nominee for the most boring and unnecessary RVD clip ever. You may appreciate it more knowing that the original cut of this clip was two minutes longer and featured such hilarious vignettes as the cashier asking if I had three pennies and then saying not to worry about it. And more entrance bells too.


Foreshadowing reared its ugly literary head as we prepared to leave the parking lot for Circuit City. The Grateful Dead unknowingly provided the soundtrack for it in the background.



After narrowly scoring a bare-handed victory against the packaging I take the historical first picture "for all the ladies at home".



Speechless boredom ensued until we saw the blood red walls of Circuit City come into view over the horizon. Bryan's hand gets some camera time with the packed parking lot and also speaks for the first time on the tape. We ended up parking in the back of the store. WAY in the back.



There was a brisk hike around to the entrance so we could watch as two customers set off the alarm at the door. The thing was, they were entering the store when they set it off, so who knows what happened there. Inside, it was a mass and tangle of miserable faces and arms miserably balancing boxes and bags. I grinned and prepared to host a series of interviews that never happened because the people were literally jogging everywhere and the couple of employees I engaged weren't interested in saying anything worth uploading.

In what is my nominee for the second most unnecessary RVD clip ever (which, for a project that is comprised of unnecessary clips, is really quite an accomplishment), I correctly identify as an employee what Bryan thought was just another customer which is immediately proved when she turns and asks if we need any help. Sweetheart, we need more help than you can give.


After "do you need any help" number eleven, we left Circuit City having had our fill of attempted assistance. I quite prophetically expressed my doubts about the quality of the two pictures I had taken. Leaving the shadowy end of the parking lot proved to be an exercise in damn near vehicular contortion.



Our next stop was Bryan's place so he could pick up his leather jacket and the conversation content finally began to reflect the delirium of the early hour. After I'm slightly nasty to you for no reason, I realize something about our music selection.


We passed a truck and wasted tape that I wouldn't bother to even think of converting to MP3 and finally arrived at Bryan's disturbingly quiet house on the other side of the westbank. While he was upstairs looking for his jacket I learned about Arkansas quarterbacks and Bryan's secret love of exotic birds. Two pictures resulted from the visit.



We left Bryan's and headed for Barnes & Noble which, for me, was the inspirational stimulus for this entire project.

I get excited about the prospects and surprises that the minimall's filled parking lot promises for our Barnes & Noble adventure while Johnny Rotten whines the speakers to death. We'd be surprised all right. Into the "crown jewel of this collection" we proceeded.



What we beheld was enough to drive a mind to try and escape the skull it's trapped in. From the scores and hoards of vehicles in the parking lot and the previous experience at Circuit City, I waited to be shocked and amazed at the torrents of people flooding from between the bookshelves, misplacing biographies in the travel section, setting off the store alarms with stolen DVDs, screaming for pastries and spilling lattes all over the place. Instead, the place was absolutely empty except for my former coworker and former manager having a relaxed conversation while leisurely leaning against the music section's shelves. No people. No misplaced books. No store alarms. No screams. No upset drinks. My tape recorder's motor was probably echoing off the walls, it was so quiet.



Down but not out yet. That's coming though.


Inside Best Buy next door, despite the insane amount of people milling around, a growing realization concerning RVD finally slowly begins to horrifyingly dawn on me.


After a few minutes of looking at things we can't afford and dodging frantic people that were walking way too fast to try and squeeze so much as an annoyed "leave me alone!" out of them, we left. We made our way back to Bryan's car so that strangers could talk to us inaudibly.


The rest of the loose schedule got thrown out the window for the sake of eating at IHOP. On the way there, we plan our next and final stop as well as my suicide.


At IHOP, disaster strikes and I become inconsolable. "Oh no, it's just the principle dude, it's not in the menu." The tape recorder takes note for the world of how cheap I really am.


After a huge span of time that sent us spiralling mentally into the twilight zone, the waitress finally took our orders. Theology and accents ensue.


We finished our not Five Star Breakfasts at IHOP and begin the last trek of RVD. I decided the time was right to let Bryan finally hear his unintentional contribution to the secret track of one of my albums. He seemed amused.



At 9:50am according to the skull watch, the bottom fell out of RVD at B. Dalton in Oakwood. If you've been paying attention, you saw this coming since the first clip. I didn't bother to record anything else at the mall beyond this point because I just wanted to forget the whole stupid project and be British.


10:30am: A very insulting conclusion. That was The End.



Or was it?





jaklocke.com