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Misadventures in Funcoland: The IBGP

February 13, 2009

funco

A long time ago in a state far far away (Michigan), I was working for Funcoland.  Recently, I was sharing stories with a friend whom I’d grown up with in Michigan that was in NYC from DC as he had once worked for Babbage’s in a similar capacity.  If you’re not familiar with Funcoland and/or Babbage’s, then that just goes to show the age difference between you and I.  If you know of Game Stop, know that Funcoland was bought out by Babbage’s and was turned into Gamestop.

Some quick background on my time at Funcoland:  I started working there in the fall of 1997 when I was 18.  I had graduated high school in June and quickly began a lucrative career in canine and feline sustenance allocation … I was a stock boy for a pet supply store, this diploma was soooo worth it!  After several months of slinging pet supplies, I found that the physical labor awoke a condition with my left shoulder and I had to find a new means of gainful employment.

I just happened into a Funcoland in Clinton Twp. Michigan as I was looking into picking up a Playstation.  I got to chatting with the manager and he asked if I was looking for a job.  The rest I’m sure you figured out by now.

What I plan to do with this series of posts is to share some of the more interesting stories that I have saved in my dome piece from my 3+ years working for Funcoland.  They will come in no particular order other than when I can remember them.  Though I will quote conversations, these will obviously be approximations since these stories take place about 10 years ago.  I will change up names to protect the innocent, though I don’t think there is anything to be criminalized of all these years later but hey…  So let’s get this party started.

Store: Clinton Township
Noteable gaming release: Release of the Ice Blue Gameboy Pocket

It was a quiet day in the store.  I was working the late shift with NinjaGirl and we hadn’t seen a customer in a good while.  NinjaGirl is a short girl of Asian descent.  She’s a really laid back chick, usually spends most of our time together telling me stories about getting stoned with her boyfriend and playing Parappa the Rapper.  Honestly, I think she was constantly stoned at work.  Were I a stoner I would probably have been too, it woulda made the job a lot more interesting.

So NinjaGirl and I are playing some Street Fighter game on the GXTV we had as a demo to try to sell them (that thing was so lame) and we spot a woman power walking towards the store from the parking lot.  Quick pause and we close up the tv and get ready to greet, SOP for any Funcoland employee.

gxtv

The door swings open and before I can even get my mandatory “Welcome to Funcoland!” passed my lips, she’s at the counter and slams a small box down on it.  You may be familiar with the term “white trash”, but unless you are from Michigan, I don’t think you can wholly appreciate what that means.  This woman, pure, unadulterated, white trash.

TrashLady “I want my money back!”

ibgp

I glance down to see what she had brought in.  It was a box for an Ice Blue Gameboy Pocket (IBGP).  Some of you might remember this as being one of the first steps in Nintendo going color crazy.

Me “No problem ma’am, I just need to see your receipt to get this rolling”

Her right hand is still firmly planted on the box on the counter, kinda like she was trying to push it through the counter.  She drops her gianormous denim sack of a purse (I think it was made out of used kids’ Jordache jeans) on the counter and rummages through it, producing several dirty scraps of paper.

TrashLady “Here!”

At first I was sorta reticent to touch the bits, they literally looked like a half dozen or so pieces of used toilet paper.  I started sliding them around, kinda like a puzzle trying to piece the thing together.  As far as transactions go, this is going pretty smooth considering TrashLady’s entrance… she now decides to change that.

TrashLady “Hurry it up boy, I ain’t got all day.  I’ve got a ride waiting for me outside.  Do you know how hard it is to get a ride up here?”

Me “No ma’am, I have my own car.”

TrashLady “Oh you think you’re funny?  Well you’s ain’t!”

At this point I’ve got the receipt mostly together and can make out that it is for the IBGP and I ask her why she’s returning it.  Note that she still has the thing pancaked on the counter.

TrashLady “I just don’t want it is all, I want my money back.  I bought it here yesterday and just don’t want it.”

And this is when it gets fun.

Me “You said you bought this here yesterday?”

My Spidey Sense is tingling.  I worked open to close the day before and believe me, I’d know if this white trash tornado had laid waste to my store in the past 24 hours.  Also, we didn’t even get the IBGP until that morning’s shipment came in, and we only had 2 of them.

Me “You didn’t buy this here yesterday.”. I probably shoulda put that better.

TrashLady ” Are you calling me a liar?”

Me “It’s not possible that you bought this here yesterday.  I was here open to close, we didn’t even get our first shipment of IBGP’s in until about noon today.”

I just punched a hole in her story, nice and clean.  You might be asking what NinjaGirl is doing throughout all of this… not a whole lot.  She’s standing next to me doing nothing so far but staring in amazement at the scene unfolded in front of her.

TrashLady “Are you calling me a liar?!”

I really wanted to say “Yes ma’am, yes I am.”. But I couldn’t.  I’m an 18 year old kid who thinks he’s got the best job in the world.  I get paid to talk video games all day.

Me “No ma’am, I’m just saying, I worked from open to close yesterday and we didn’t sell any Game Boy’s.  Also that we have had a lot of phone calls with people looking for this IBGP so I know we haven’t had them until today.”

Here comes the crazy train…

TrashLady “You little shit!  I want to talk to a manager!  Now now now now!”

I’m not sure how many times she said now, I just remember her resembling a 5 year old doing this as its also the first time she took her hand off the box on the counter.  So I took a step back and kinda presented the lady to NinjaGirl.

Me “All you!”

From here, NinjaGirl tries to calm TrashLady down and its not going so well.  NinjaGirl doesn’t do so well with people yelling at her.  While TrashLady is cursing out NinjaGirl, I just kinda stand to the side and watch, you can’t get entertainment like this on TV.  Not then at least.  NinjaGirl proceeds to try to piece together the rest of the receipt, namely the top portion that tells us the date, store #, and transaction # of the purchase.  These are all things we need to do the return.  It’s then that I notice that the top of the box is basically shredded.  This is important because once something that was purchased “new” from Funcoland was opened, there was no cash back… there was only store credit.  I quickly point this out to NinjaGirl on the low down… the down low… whatever…

Me “Hey, the box is open already, we can’t return it.”

NinjaGirl “Shit, call TheManager and see what he says, we gotta get this woman outta here.”

So I do just that, well, I page the manager since he wasn’t home.  That’s right kiddies, I “paged” him.  Google it.  I spoke to him and he said there’s nothing we can do.  Both NinjaGirl and myself explain to TheManager the severity of the situation and he tells us to get in touch with DistrictManager.  By now, TrashLady senses something is up, maybe it’s because both NinjaGirl and myself are huddled 5 feet from her speaking very quietly into the phone and shooting quick glances at her.

TrashLady “What the fuck is taking so long?!  I told you I got a ride waiting for me!”

NinjaGirl gets on the phone with DistrictManager and lays down the story, and he backs us up… she’s not walking out with cash.  NinjaGirl has me tell TrashLady this… she is not very receptive to this and demands to speak to DistrictManager.  At this point, TrashLady is on the phone with DistrictManager.

TrashLady “Listen.  No you listen.  I came all the way.  That’s not right!  You have to give me my money back!  How about half then?!  How long does that take?  Fine!  He wants to talk to you!”

I take the phone and talk to DistrictManager.  He informs me that we’re going to do a corporate check for TrashLady but without the usual 20% cut that we do.  He gives me an authorization code to enter to do this maneuver and we hang up.  At this point I’m pretty much back in control of this transaction so I just give TrashLady the biggest grin I can and just kinda rub in the kindness.

I start entering her info for the corporate check and then it comes time to do the info for the IBGP.  Only thing I really need to do is make sure that the serial # on the IBGP matches the one on the receipt, simple enough.  Nintendo even made it easy by putting this little hole in the back of the box where you can… oh… there is a manual in the way.  Ok, so I flip open the top and take out NOT an IBGP… but a Red Gameboy Pocket (RGP)… with a shattered screen.

gameboypoket2

Me “Ma’am… … … (I really had a good 10 second pause where I tried to comprehend the situation) this is not an IBGP, it’s a RGP with a shattered screen.”

TrashLady “Well that’s what was in the box!”

I play devil’s advocate and check the serial # on the RGP vs the one on the receipt… SURPRISE!  They don’t match!  I explain this to TrashLady, and she once gain… starts yelling.

TrashLady “DistrictManager said I was going to get a check!  I want my money!”

I call DistrictManager back and explain the situation, now he’s pissed.  I hand the phone to TrashLady and there is some screaming on her part and then she hangs up the phone.

TrashLady “He said to just refund me the money.”

RRRRRIIIIIIGGGGGHHHHHTTTT!  I pick up the phone to call DistrictManager back and TrashLady loses it.

TrashLady “Don’t you bother calling him back!”

As she says this, the phone rings, guess who it is…

DistrictManager “Call the strip mall security and have them take her out.”

I tell NinjaGirl to get security on the phone and the woman goes even more nuts.  She grabs onto one of the cash register monitors and proclaims that she’s not leaving empty handed and starts yanking on the monitor trying to pull it free.  I latch on and we are in this tug-o-war over it.  NinjaGirl, I shit you not, leaps over the counter without even touching it and runs out looking for strip mall security.  At this point the woman decides she has lost.

TrashLady “Whoa whoa whoa you don’t need to get the cops!  Uh uh uh I gotta go!”

She quickly piles everything she brought into her denim sack and runs out the door.  I just stand behind the counter in disbelief at what has just happened.  A couple minutes later, NinjaGirl comes running back with two rent-a-cops.  We give them the whole story and description of the woman and they leave.

About a week goes by and NinjaGirl and I are working together again that night. As soon as I walk in the door she comes running up to me.

NinjaGirl “Dude! (Yes, she said ‘dude’ a lot). TrashLady came back again last night!”

Apparently TrashLady came in trying to pull the same routine, albeit hopefully on a different set of employee’s. A couple minutes into the whole thing NinjaGirl came out of the back room and it all went to hell.

The scene played out with TrashLady accusing NinjaGirl of a conspiracy to scam her out of money and even replayed the whole monitor grabbing scene. TrashLady once again left at the threat of law enforcement intervention.

Now I know what you’re thinking, “This is the last you ever saw of TrashLady right?”. Well, you’re close but so so wrong.

About a month has passed at this point and TrashLady is just a funny story we tell now. It’s another slow evening, I’m working with NinjaGirl again and her boyfriend ToughGuy who works at a different Funcoland is hanging out.

ToughGuy is pretty much just that, a.tough guy. He’s kinda got this New Jersey Gangsta thing goin on, but he’s white, has really fucked up teeth, and lisps like he’s trying to fill a bucket with spit for a contest.

It’s towards the end of the night, we’re counting inventory as we do every night (yes, we had to count every single piece of saleable merchandise in the store every single night), I’m sitting on a step stool counting NES games when I hear the door beep go off. NinjaGirl is in the back room counting systems with ToughGuy so I jump to my feet to launch my greeting… And then I see it’s her…

TrashLady “I don’t care what you have to do, I am not leaving without my money!”

NinjaGirl comes running up from the back and we start into the whole thing again. I explain that the serial’s don’t match so there is nothing we can do.

NinjaGirl gets on the phone with DistrictManager. While she’s doing this, TrashLady is throwing old SNES and Genesis accessories around the store, demanding that she’s going to damage her monies worth if we don’t give her the money back.

DistrictManager finally conceeds and says to get the RGP with the shattered screen and just refund her the money to get her out and end all this. NinjaGirl hangs up and begrudgingly informs TrashLady of this and asks for the RGP and receipt. Picture the Joker in Dark Knight here, “And, here… we… go…”

TrashLady “I done threw that shit away, it was pissing me off looking at it.”

NinjaGirl (and this is a direct quote, I will likely never forget this) “Well then you just fucked yourself right there!”

TrashLady goes off at this as you would expect.  NinjaGirl calls up DistrictManager again to fill him in that the woman has thrown away the RGP and receipt.  I’m thinking we will now be needing to call the cops since she has nothing to return but is still demanding her money.  This is when DistrictManager does the unexpected.  He tells NinjaGirl to just give the woman the money to end all of this.  And that quite literally was the end of all this.  The woman took her $150 and stormed out of the store, never to be heard from or seen again.

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5 comments

  1. This was the best story ive heard in a long time. The IBGP’s were the best, Ive been looking for another one. Hope I dont get some red one…


  2. I live in Ypsilanti, and I get plenty of TrashLadies where I work (a grocery store) and dear god… You think ToughGuy would’ve gotten a little confrontational or something at that point. I’ve lived here all my life and I can still say I can’t stand almost everyone in lower Michigan, so I feel your pain. Funny thing is, I found this while looking for prices for an IBGP, finding one on Ebay for five bucks and feeling sad about it lol.


  3. The only good story I can bring up regarding ridiculous returns was a guy who tried to return a PS2 he’d “bought” used at the store, claiming it didn’t work and demanded a refund.

    The system was boxed, so we pulled the system out to check serials and what we found was the shell of a PS2, with the center of the system bulging to the point of bursting. There’s no telling if there were actual system internals inside or god knows what.

    My manager basically told the guy to leave the store, which of course led to the guy throwing a fit about it. This continued for a good solid half-hour before he finally gave up and left.

    I miss these days.


  4. LMAO! I just happened to stumble upon this while googling gameboys. Great story.


  5. … google imaged shattered monitor and saw a RGP with games, and wanted a close up of the games. Got one hell of a story from a store that was extremely short lived for me. (23 now so it wasn’t around long for me) I enjoyed this, thank you.



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