Monday, June 18, 2007

On Responsibility

I rented a video last Sunday. Not yesterday, but 9 days ago. I don't rent movies much, but it seemed like a nice idea. The movie was ok, not great, and it was a 5-day-rental. I can't fathom why a person would need 5 days with any given movie, except that the rental places are banking on the possibility that you will forget to bring it back and they can charge late fees. Incidentally, that's what happened to me. It was due Friday at 10pm, at which time I was 75 miles away. Why I didn't return the stinkin' thing on Monday (we watched it Sunday night) is a moot point, but that's what I should have done.

It nagged me all weekend to a degree. My nature is that I like organization and symmetry. Indeed, my favorite shape is a square. I like things neatly packaged, and I absolutely loathe loose ends. I hate having debts (although I am resigned to a certain amount of debt as it is an inevitable by-product of my middle-class situation). And so it was that I was motivated to venture to the video store at 9:37pm last night to return the offensive overdue video.

The store has an outside deposit box for returns. I chose to go inside and return it personally. When you step inside there is a counter with a slot in it that reads, "Drop Return Videos Here." I set my DVD on the counter and waited for the girl sweeping the floor to attend to me. She turned off the vacuum and looked at me quizzically. I told her I wanted to return the overdue DVD and pay the late fee. She walked over to me, looked at the video as if she had never seen one before (a fact I doubt, considering where she works), and again gave me the questioning look. I pushed the DVD across the counter at her and gave her my best oh-so-patient "let's move it along, moron" smile. Finally, she spoke: "You could have just dropped this in the slot right there, you know." Oh, duh, silly me!!

Again, I reiterated that I was certain I owed a late fee and I wished to take care of it "since I was here and all." She mumbled an "oooooookaaayyy...?" which sounded suspiciously like a "What-Everrrr...?" and gestured to the guy running the register, apparently indicating that he would take care of my freaky situation. He came over, took the DVD, inspected it like it was the holy grail, checked it in, and charged me my $2.10, which I paid in exact change. The two of them stood there and watched me leave, glancing uneasily at each other. I imagine the same reaction might have been evoked had I been Jesus Christ, or a space alien.

Is it so unusual for a person to want to take prompt responsibility for his or her actions these days? I probably won't rent another video for the rest of the summer, so why would I want a surprise "mystery" late fee when I rent my next movie? Additionally, I suspect that if I just dropped the movie in the slot, it might be the next day before it would be checked in, and there would have been a 3-day fee instead of two. Come on people, I know the game. Everyone's out to make a buck!

I am now free to start my Monday with a "clean slate," oh joy.