Valium Vickie

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The Redbox Experiment

I get a lot of movies from Redbox -- that conspicuous little machine in the of lobby of most grocery stores, where cheap people can rent movies for just one dollar. I used to wonder how that company made any money at all. But after renting from Redboxes in a variety of socioeconomic neighborhoods, I honestly don't think that company gives a shit about making money.

I think Redbox is a social experiment to see how much people are willing to endure to get something for one dollar. And people are willing to endure a lot. When someone's up at the box taking his or her good old time to pick out some shitty romantic comedy and the line starts to build up, the electricity in the air is as palpable as the moment right before the sky opens up and a summer storm unleashes itself. Only the storm never comes. Sure, people make a few audible sighs and groans, but situation always plays out without incident. There have been plenty of times when I've been waiting in line at a Redbox and the person selecting the movie actually seems to be testing the people in line, and I'll think, "Alright, this is it. Shit's about to go down. These people are gonna riot." And nothing ever happens ... yet. But it's only a matter of time until you turn on the news and hear, "It started out as family movie night and ended in cold-blooded murder. What happened at this Norristown Redbox will shock you."

The worst I've seen it was this winter. I'm standing in the Redbox line -- a line that's around 10 deep -- just trying to keep warm in the unheated lobby of Drexel Hill's Fresh Grocer. A heavyset, white trash woman in spandex is up at the box. While she carefully studies all of the available selections, her two dirty, obnoxious kids run around the lobby unsupervised like a couple of rabid squirrels. Not satisfied that she can make the big decision on her own, this woman gets on her phone and starts reading off the descriptions to the person on the other line.

White Trash Lady: "Eat, Pray, Love ... whatta ya think? What's it about? Let's see, it says here that 'Liz Gilbert' ... that's Julia Roberts' name in the movie. Umm, it says, this Liz Gilbert 'is a modern woman on a quest to marvel at and travel the world while rediscovering and reconnecting with her true inner self.'"

This women read off full descriptions of movies, while we froze our asses of waiting in line, and no one did shit. But if someone did end up doing something, I guarantee there would be an eyewitness on the news that night saying, "That was horrible what happened to that woman ... but she kinda had it coming."