Love that Robin Williams. From Mrs Doubtfire to Cadillac Man to Good Morning Vietnam--bet I've seen every movie he's in. Except "Man of the Year," although I've tried. Rented it from blockbuster's blue box at the supermarket. Or so I thought. Then I played it on my TV and found another Man of the Year--in Portuguese with subtitles. I watched the foreign film, waiting for Robin Williams to show up, but he never did. It wasn't a bad movie--and it had a pretty good plot--if you enjoy extreme violence, but it wasn't the movie I wanted, or the movie I paid for. I returned it to blue box and attempted to rent again the movie with a pic of Robin Williams wearing a colonial wig and titled "Man of the Year. The DVD that the big blue machine spit out looked like the same one, so I immediately returned it. Still, Blockbuster charged me $1.07--for a two minute DVD rental.

A month later, I tried again.The plain labeled DVD looked like the bootleg Portuguese movie, and I wondered out loud if I was really getting the Robin Williams DVD or the foreign film of the same name. A guy in line behind me suggested I bring it to Blockbuster and have them check it for me. It just so happened, Blockbuster had a physical store right next door to the supermarket with the blue box.

Inside the Blockbuster store, all was quiet. Not a creature was stirring, not even a customer. There was one female who identified herself as the manager and one young male clerk. As I started to explain my dilemma, the female cut me off. I told her she hadn't let me finish what I was saying. I asked them if they would play the movie to determine if it was the Robin Williams flick or the Portuguese bootleg one. The female manager said, with a straight face that playing DVDs was against the store policy. I said I'd prefer to not waste my time with the wrong movie, and if it was not the one I'd intended to rent, I could just return it to the supermarket now, and save myself another unnecessary trip to the store.

The female came up with a bizarre analogy that asking her to play the Blockbuster blue box rental DVD at the Blockbuster store would be like if I bought a meal at McDonald's restaurant and tried to return it to a another McDonald's in another state. I told her that no-o-o it's not. I stood my ground, and the woman called me aggressive. I laughed and said I didn't like to waste money (or time). The woman with the out of state McDonald's analogy suggested I bring my questions to the store's district manager at the toll free number posted on the outside of the store. By this point I was beginning to understand why the Blockbuster parking lot and store were customer free.

The young clerk was a bit more logical--and efficient. He offered to play the DVD, pointing out to the so called manager that "people do it all the time." A couple seconds later, he acknowledged that it was indeed a foreign film with the same name as the Robin Williams movie. The supermarket would close in thirty minutes, so I brought the DVD back. Total time in my possession: about twenty minutes. I'm sure Blockbuster charged me $1.07 for that.

I read somewhere that Blockbuster's profits have suffered some slippage in recent years. Time to make some changes, Big blue.

Still haven't seen Robin Williams in Man of the Year. I'll be looking for it at Redbox.

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