Going Rental 

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Can’t get enough of our rental episode? Neither could our guest, Eric Plunk. Check out more of rental stories here!

I had such a good time last week on the Just Us Geeks podcast reminiscing about the glory days of movie rentals. This topic is such a deep well to draw from that there were a couple of memories that I didn’t have the chance to bring up – memories ranging from my earliest and fondest to the grotesque. So make a pallet in the floor, get a parent or guardian to pop some popcorn in the microwave, and get ready for a walk down memory lane!

Click here to listen to Episode 164 – Be Kind Rewind!

My earliest rental memories go back, well, about as far as I can remember. In the small town I grew up in there were zero red lights, one school, one bank, one restaurant, and one gas station. If you entered Freddy & Janice’s gas station and went to the back of the building and made your way down a small ramp, you’d come across what seemed like endless rows of video tapes and NES games. I LIVED for the day of the week that I got to peruse aisle after aisle of pure entertainment. Ernest Goes to Camp? Yes please. Fivel Goes West? Then so does Eric. Revenge of the Killer Tomatoes? Nope. Too scary. And then there were the games. Having only ever owned Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt, Tetris, and Super Mario Bros. 3, Freddy & Janice’s diversified my gaming palate with a wide selection of games. Popeye, Goonies II, Bugs Bunny’s Crazy Castle, Paperboy, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were just a few of my favorites. I could also go on about the SNES era of F & J’s as well but I’ll sum it up in one word: Bubsy (you know, the Bobcat? Anyone?). During the SNES era, more games had the option to save your game progress on the cartridge. Remember going into a previous renters save file and being halfway or more through the game immediately, or the agony of re-renting a game that you were so close to beating only to learn your save file had been overwritten? I lament how many times my Sim-City had to be rebuilt from scratch, but I enjoyed every second of it. With so few entertainment options compared to today’s digital world, Freddy & Janice’s was an oasis of awesome.

Switching gears to my days as a Blockbuster employee, I’m very curious to hear if other rental employees have had a similar experience to the one I’m about to lay out: let’s say you’re going about your business and clearing returned movies out of the drop box. One by one, you go through the movies to verify that the disc is indeed in the case, but what you may not realize is that you’ve unwillingly walked right into a game of Russian Roulette. Once in a while, you open a case and it’s as if the customer opened the case, placed it over their cheeks (not the kind you smile with), and uhhhhh…let off some fumes. Before the exhaust can escape, I imagine the customer swiftly closing the case and immediately returning it to the store. I swear that DVD cases keep things crisper than Tupperware, because after opening them it still smells as if it came straight from the source. If you are reading this and you have done this then A) WHY?! and B) I’m not very fond of you. I never could connect the smell to anything other than this so if anyone has an answer to my decade long smell mystery, then you can have a free rental on me.

I’d really like to hear some of your rental memories, so please leave a comment and let us in on your experiences. Renting was always a special occasion and not just a button click like it is today. I look forward to your responses!

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About author

Eric Plunk

I am 31 years young and have been known to enjoy the occasional video game, movie, TV show, or wrestling event. Catch me on PSN: reel_amERICan or even on MiiVerse: EricPlunk.

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