Misadventures in Funcoland: The Long Haul

February 13, 2009


Location: Sterling Heights, MI.
Notable Gaming Release: Quest 64 for the N64

It was the summer before I went off to college at Eastern Michigan University and I was working at the Sterling Heights (SH) store, almost completely alone.  Mon – Saturday, open to close, just me.  On sundays, ManagerPart2 would come in and take care of the paper work that I wasn’t able to do.  I mean, after all, I was only 19 and running the store pretty much by myself, can’t expect me to know how to balance the books on my own can ya?  If there is any one thing about the Sterling Heights store that you should know, it is that it was one of the slowest stores in the entire company.  I think on a good day I would sell $50 worth of shit unless someone bought a system.  So as you can see, this store was really really really slow.  I spent maybe 1 hour every morning straightening up and dusting after a couple weeks of organising the place.  The rest of the time… playing video games!

This whole scenario plays out because the previous staff were all fired for stealing and embezzling, something I would later found it out was quite common within Funcoland, and Funcoland did not fuck around with that.  They went after everyone, and they made sure they got their money back.  I was put out here to watch the store and ManagerPart2 who was now managing the Clinton Twp store was in charge of both until they found a suitable replacement.

So this was likely a Tuesday since that’s when games get released.  I personally had been looking forward to this day as it was the day that Quest 64 was coming out.  The big deal about this was that it was the first RPG for the N64, and at the time, I was a nut for just about any RPG that came out.  Shortly after the store opened the UPS guy came and dropped off our daily delivery.  It was only a small box, bought the size of a microwave, which was good to see since it meant little to put away so I could test out Quest 64.  Turns out the only thing in the box was like 20 copies of Quest 64.


So I shove them into their appropriate place alphabetically on the wall, put one up on the face out, and tear one open to try out!  I hop over the counter because, well, I didn’t want to walk around and it’s not like I was in any danger of anyone coming in.  At the SH store we didn’t have an N64 hooked up to the GX tv so I had to go out to the “arcade” to play.  I ripped out whatever was in the N64 and dropped in Quest64.  I can remember being ecstatic, giddy even, waiting to get to play.  10 minutes go by, the fun should be coming soon.  20 minutes go by… fun?  Hello?  30 minutes… someone call the cops, I think the fun has been abducted.  1 hour… I’m glad I didn’t just ring one up for myself as soon as I got my hands on it.  This game is HORRIBLE!  I don’t even want to leave this out to torture some one with which is usually what I do to prevent kids from coming in and playing free video games all day.  So I take the damn thing out, put it back in it’s box and go back to playing another game.  I think at this time I had just discovered the Road Rash series and was rocking that on the PS1 on the GX.

The problem with the SH store was that the GX tv faced out towards the door.  For those of you who have trouble determining spacial relations from text, that means my back is to the door so I won’t know if anyone is coming until they open the door and the beep goes off.  Well sure enough… *BEEP BEEP*.  Pause, close the GX’s speakers and throw my greeting.  The guy standing in front of me looks to be about mid 30’s, balding, hair is kinda just going where it wants.  He’s wearing a filthy white t-shirt from some construction company, I assume the one he works for.  He looks like he’s on break from a contruction job basically.  I ask if I can help him find anything and sure enough, he came in looking for Quest 64.

Now, the way it goes, we’re not supposed to try to deter anyone from purchasing anything unless it’s of a sensetive matter like say… a mom wants to buy Mortal Kombat 2 for her 6 year old.  It makes sense, if it were up to me, I’d spare every single person who came in wanting this game from it’s misery.  But all I can really do is offer… non-partially… to let people try it out first.  So I tell the guy I’ll put it in the arcade for him (this time I walk all the way around) and let him give it a go.  I keep busy tidying up tiny little things on the floor.  After all, the place never gets messed up since no one ever comes in.

It’s been about 20 minutes and the guy is still playing.  Actually, not only is he still playing, he’s really enjoying himself. Keeps exclaiming how awesome it is.

Me “Great, well how about I ring one up for you so you can get home and really dig into it?”

DirtyGuy “Well, lemme play a little while longer, I’m still not convinced.”

Another 20 minutes goes by.  Normally we put a 5 minute limit on these sessions, but this isn’t a normal store.  He’s the only customer that’s come in so far, and I’ve got no valid reason to kick his ass off the game.  I try again to get him to buy it and leave…

Me “You know, you really should just pick one up and go.  Everything you’re playing here is just going to be lost since you don’t have a memory card.”

Yeah, that should work.

DirtyGuy “Actually!  I have my memory card out in my truck!  I’m gonna go grab it.”

He takes a quick step towards the door and stops.  He looks back at me, kinda sheepishly…

DirtyGuy “Could you make sure no one touches that ’til I get back?”

This guy has been really enthralled with this piece of shit game, so much that he hasn’t realized that no one else has come in the store since he got there almost an hour ago.  I shoot him a thumbs up and a little head nod and he runs out of the store.  I jump my ass over the counter and call up ManagerPart2 to see what he wants me to do about the guy.  He thought this whole situation was hilarious.  I liked ManagerPart2, he was a funny guy.  He is cracking jokes about the whole thing while I’m waiting for this guy to come back in.  His suggestion was to do something that was normally a big no no.  At some stores, the breaker box in the back has been labled so that you know which video games systems are on which circuit breaker.  It comes in handy when you want to make a kid leave by flipping the breaker real quick, effectively resetting the game.  Well, who woulda thought that a bunch of thieves would have done this in this store?  You’re right, I thought so too.

Now I’m not so cold as to do this while the guy was out getting his memory card so I figure… wait, what the hell is taking this guy so long anyway?  He’s been gone like 20 minutes.  Where did he park?  I don’t know for sure but I honestly think the guy drove home to get his memory card.  After about a half hour he comes running back inside, holding up his memory card triumphantly with this big grin on his face.  He looks like a dad at his kids sporting event and they just won the game, fist pumped up in the air, huge grin blasted on his face.

As he’s walking over to the system I catch a quick glimpse of his memory card… it’s one of those big ass aftermarket ones.  The kind that you push a button and it switches between 4 different memory banks, effectively giving you 4x the space of a first party card, albeit at about 20% of the stability of the first party card.  That’s not so much what is odd, the fact that this thing is wrapped in dirty white athletic tape is what’s odd.  DirtyGuy is trying to peel the tape off the memory card because it won’t fit in the controller with it on.  Apparently he had broken his controller at home and used the tape to hold the card in place.  He gets the card plugged in, couple button presses and…

DirtyGuy “Phew!  Glad we got that saved bud!  Thanks for watching out for me!”

Me “No problem man, so how about picking up your own copy and taking it home where you can play it sitting down.  You’ve got your game saved now so you don’t have to worry about losing all that play time.”

DirtyGuy “Just a little bit longer… I want to see a couple more things first.”

Now this guy is starting to piss me off.  It’s not just that he smells like hell, it’s two things that really get me…

1.  He REALLY likes this horrible game.  Back then, just like anyone who works for a shop like that, I was a video game snob.  Only games that I deemed worthy of playing were just that… worthy of playing.  If you enjoyed a game I despised, you were inferior to me.

2.  I couldn’t play my game with any customers in the store.  Sure this guy would’ve loved for me to just go about my business and leave him alone, but I didn’t wanna take that chance.  People get fired for that shit.

Probably another 45 minutes goes by, and this guy is still playing.  ManagerPart2 has called several times to ridicule me.  He even said he was going to come by after he got done with his morning shift to see the guy.  I had had enough.  I told the guy I had to receive a shipment at the back door and that I’d be right back.  I even tried to play cool and asked him if he would let anyone who came in know that I’d be right back.  He was all for it.

So I ran into the backroom and climbed up the ladder that was already placed in front of the breaker box.  Sure enough, each switch had a sticker that said which systems they controlled.

Me “Playstation… Genesis… Super Nintendo… Ninten… OHHH!  N64!”

Flick flick!


It was this high pitched sorta squeel of a no.  I did my best not to fall of the ladder as I kept from laughing outloud.  I run back out and act all surprised.

Me “What happened?  You ok?”

DirtyGuy “It… It… It.. the game… it… it messed up!”

Sure enough, there was the title screen… mission accomplished.

Me “Sorry man, the system is designed to reset every once in awhile to keep kids from playing games here all day.  It’s supposed to go every 5 minutes but there’s something wrong with this store’s system.  It just kinda does it whenever it wants.  I hope you saved”

DirtyGuy “I haven’t saved since I brought my memory card in.”

At this point, I kinda felt sorry for the guy and almost regretted what I did.  He had the most sad look on his face.

Me “Sorry man.  Well at least now you can pick up your own and head home so you don’t have to worry about that happening.”

And this is where I stopped feeling sorry for the guy.

DirtyGuy “Oh, I ugh… ummm… I don’t have any money.”

The look on my face must’ve said it all, but I still needed to say it.

Me “Sorry dude, but you’ve gotta go.”


One comment

  1. fucking amazing story

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