Sometimes, when I go to my local Redbox, I feel like I need to take Xanax.
Last week, on a super crisp Autumn day, I woke up and decided it would be in my best interest to drive to the gas station down the street and rent Katy Perry: Part Of Me at Redbox. Why that movie? Why not? Listen to "Firework" and try to tell me you haven't experienced some sort of metaphysical reawakening of your soul.
As I was scrolling through the screen and making my selection, an ominous feeling crept up on me; a familiar feeling unique to going to Redbox. I felt claustrophobic. With a subtle turn of my head, I realized a large man was standing close to me. Too close. So close that it felt like his jeans were brushing against the back of my thighs. Panic immediately set in. The Katy Perry movie is in my queue, but what if I wanted to do some further leisurely browsing? How fast can I take my credit card out of my wallet? What if this man behind me is on his way to the hospital to visit his very pregnant wife and had to return a movie? Why does it smell like Drakkar Noir?
If my dad was in this situation, having now earned his senior citizen, "I DON'T GIVE A F!" mentality, he would have purposely took a long time looking, perhaps reading and re-reading the synopsis of Think Like a Man. But I'm weak. I put my credit card in, nervously tapped through all the prompts and had my hand ready outside of that slot for that DVD. I walked back to my car, in shame, looking at the man (of Eastern European descent?) whose genitals were nearly in my back pocket.
Why must I experience this anxiety? Can't we, as a civilized society that rents movies, prescribe to a specific code of conduct or etiquette while at Redbox?
On its website, Redbox offers a video with the following rules: Read the directions, don't spoil the ending, don't take forever to make your decision, return the right way, wash your hands, don't multi-task and don't be a sidewalk blocker.
OK, some of that's common sense, but why does Redbox think we're congregating around their red machines with communicable disease-ridden hands and talkin' 'bout flicks? Unfortunately, they don't offer advice to people who have lived through the hellish experience of going to the only Redbox in town on a Friday night after work. I'm not the only one here. There are threads on forums and blog posts and articles about the emotional trauma we go through just to rent a movie.
I'm an elitist. A seasoned veteran. I'm there every Tuesday. The Redbox guy knows me by name and we go out for breakfast together (not really). In an attempt to preserve your mental health, I offer you my advanced guide to Redbox etiquette:
Get movie. Leave. Now.
Know what you want beforehand. There's not only a Redbox website updated weekly with new releases that allows you to reserve movies online, there's apps for smartphones that let you do the same thing. You can be sitting in your car, radio on and windows cracked and make your selection. Once the moment of truth comes, all you have to do is swipe your credit card and your choices magically pop out. If you don't have an Internet connection (how are you reading this?) or spontaneously end up there after family night at Applebees, that's understandable. But you need to pick out a movie in a reasonable amount of time because people are impatient and they might have a soft addiction to playing Madden and have to get home and play it. Be considerate.
Wait like a decent human being...
If someone's at the Redbox outside, I like to wait in the car. It avoids theoretical confrontations you make up in your mind and eases your maniacal rage. But then you have to take into account people who form a line or other people in the car. You must be strategic. I see no shame in, when the person at the machine leaves, sprinting to it like it's Black Friday. If you're inside, come up with a mantra that will relieve your tension or pretend to look at the board with all the movies while you secretly monitor WTF that person is doing.
...or BRING THE HEAT
If you feel like the cordial grace period of the person in front of you has expired, pressure them to make up their fickle mind. Don't stand too close, but just close enough to make them feel your accelerating pulse and your judgmental eyes. Make odd coughing noises and tsk and take dramatically heavy deep breaths.
"Phil, have we seen this one? It's got Richard Gere in it. No... No... No... Well, I didn't see it. How about the one with Borat? What about Hunger Game [sic]. Well, then you should have come then!" I've heard this same conversation transpire so many times. Like, the movie is only $1 to rent. Take a gamble. If your spouse doesn't like your selection then you two should just break-up.
Don't talk to me. Don't even look at me.
Who am I? I have an unkempt beard and a large head. Why would you take movie advice from me outside of a Walgreens? I could be a philistine who solely watches Michael Bay movies. I'm here for a brief transaction, not to chitchat about The Three Stooges. Leave me alone.
While the lamestream media ignores Redbox reform in this upcoming election, I will fight for my freedoms as an AMERICAN to rent Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3 under safe and tolerable conditions. Write a letter to your congressperson today so we can get some proper, bi-partisan Redbox legislation drafted as soon as possible. I appreciate your concern.
Follow Chris Krapek on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ChrisKrapek