Why your local record store employee became an asshole



Not sure what it is about the Van Morrison thing, but I guess everyone gets pissy about it. I had the same thing happen when working at a chain record store in the early 90s. Some guy and his girl couldn’t find Van Morrison under the Vs. I chuckled self-deprecatingly and explained that it’s under “M” because his name is actually First: “Van” and that his last name is “Morrison” and that I had made the same mistake when I started working there. I was surprised that they got all butthurt, like I was insulting them, when I was really commenting at my own expense.


From what I hear they seem to hate, “I used to have this one!” which I’m sure I’ve said many times.

Ben Folds Five … Under B since that’s the band’s name. His solo stuff … Under F! :slight_smile:


I’m sure they’re an asshole because people ask silly questions. It has nothing to do with working retail hours for a retail paycheck.


Customer: “This that concert that got Sting and Yo Yo Mama?”

Anybody wanna play the dozens where we just take turns insulting Yo Yo Ma?


I once had a customer that couldn’t understand why the band 100 Flowers was listed under the letter “O”. Then there were the customers who didn’t know the name of the song they were looking for, so they would start singing it with hopes that I could figure it out. It was an easy gig that didn’t pay much but the best perks were free concert tickets and record release parties.


I just looked this up because I never knew this. His middle name is Ivan and he just went by Van as his name. You learn something every day. However, I think the average person going into a store will be looking for him under the Vs. The only mistake is that the employees want to feel educated and aloof. And reduce the # of albums they sell.

Then again, I think that is every record store employees dream, to be able to limit the idiots that are unworthy of owning an album.

I hit JazzMart in Chicago every few months when I’m in town, these folks are the exact opposite of the record store employees I’ve ever met. They love their music and want you to love it too, but are willing to help you find what you want anyways. Last time I was there, they actually helped me order something from Amazon because they had no way of getting a hold of it. And while I was on the page, amazon suggested a few other things and they said “Well we do have this and I forgot about it, but you might want to consider this one too”…so they ended up with a sale anyways.

It is one of the few record stores I’ll go into that I don’t feel judged and insulted when I’m there.

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I’m pretty sure some of them start out as pretentious assholes. They’re like librarians that way. Some remain good-natured and patient in spite of years of being asked for The Count of Monte Carlo.


For all the stores that have Van Morrison under ‘M,’ do they file Elvis under ‘P’?


Why your local record store employee became an asshole

Because I used to ask to listen to all the new stuff from the hardcore section when I could only afford one or two records a week on a Friday? He really hated hardcore, and I don’t think a shared appreciation for drum and bass fixed the problem.

The guy who owned the shop didn’t have a problem though, he was a former Black Sabbath roadie who had a love for most music and was a generally nice guy.


I can relate one experience from the otherwise (or previously) estimable Waterloo Records (Austin TX), about 15 or 20 years ago. One of the clerks evidently put a CD-ROM in the store’s CD player (although someone else, when I told him about this, suggested it could have been something like a Merzbow CD). OK, funny, for about half a minute anyway. After that, another shopper (older than me, like my dad’s age) politely asked if they’d mind putting on something else. The clerk responded, “Oh? What would you rather hear?” in a tone so smarmy that it took Waterloo down several notches for me thereafter.

I am absolutely naming a band Aryan Neville.


Using the word “butthurt” isn’t the best way to claim the moral high ground and present yourself as some sort of self-deprecating Samaritan.


We did, yes.

Actually, it is…because as I led them happily to what they were looking for, essentially saying “I had trouble finding it at first too, because I stupidly didn’t realize Van is actually his first name”… but when we got to the proper section they got very pissy, saying sarcastically “well, so sorry we didn’t know”… uhhh, no, I was empathizing, saying “no worries, I didn’t know either at first” but the fact that they somehow threw a tantrum about it in the face of my saying “I totally get you and why you’re frustrated/lost” is the definition (although the term wasn’t around at the time) of Butthurt.

Lighten up, Francis.



Even if you don’t see how that word is interpreted that way, your use of it as an insult doesn’t suggest a lot of empathy, nor does your suggestion that people “stupidly” don’t know that Van isn’t part of his last name. Saying “hey, I used to be as stupid as you!” isn’t as self-deprecating as you seem to think.

Maybe you should lighten up and understand their reaction.


I live near Waterloo Records and have spent a fair amount of time and money there. I go to noise, energy music, and experimental shows, they’ve occasionally played stuff that nearly made me beg for mercy. But it’s rare, and kind of welcome now that the university station has a corporate playlist format.

You know the less pretentious music stores I’ve been to…the ones that actually care about their customers…would actually put a second divider for the commonly differently ordered artists to say Looking For Elvis? Look Under Presley.

It is amazing that these bitter geniuses didn’t think to do this.


Since there seems to be a bit of a negative tide turning here, mostly because (understandably) everyone is picturing the record store employees as Jack Black’s character in High Fidelity… I will say I never once saw any of my fellow employees act with hostility toward any customer. In fact, we all loved helping people when they were looking for things within the genre each of us personally gravitated toward. Each store usually has someone who is well-steeped in a certain genre and the managers are often renaissance (wo)men in all realms.
And the misunderstanding requests were like a puzzle, trying to figure out what it was they were actually after, followed by a victory lap when you mated the customer with what they were trying to convey/find. True, we might later have a laugh about it in the back room, but never directly to the customer. It was always frustrating if you failed to figure out what they were after.