Stories from Rent-to-Own
OldCharlie gets us started with some of his stories:
Heya Kiddies, inspired by the recent fad of veterans telling war stories, I’ve decided to throw my hat into the mix and tell a few of my own. No I wasn’t a cop, and I didn’t serve during any wars, but I did work at Rent-A-Center and Rent-Way for a total of three years. And for most of that time I was working in the inner city. To those that aren’t aware, Rent-A-Center and Rent-Way are two of the largest rent-to-own chains in the US. They rent furniture, major kitchen appliances, electronics, and computers on a week to week basis. If it sounds shady, that’s because it is. I have never worked at a less reputable business in all my life. The employee’s were shady, with a few exceptions, ALL the managers were shady, and the business itself is just exploitive.
Imagine, if you will, that you are living in a trailer park. And not just any trailer park, but one overrun with cats and rodents and smelling of shit and piss, HOORAH. And for some reason you let someone talk you into renting a bigscreen TV for almost $60 a week, which if you make all the payments you can pay off in three years. WHAT WHAT WHAT? How could I ever turn down such a glorious opportunity!
I shit you not people, I delivered more Bigscreen TV’s than I could count into trailers. But I digress. I really want to tell you about some of the more enjoyable experiences of my job, the stuff that really warmed the sub-cockular region of my heart. If you like this story, I may post more.
So one day myself and my coworker, Brian, hop into the truck to see if we can find some of these people who haven’t paid us in like 2 months. I’m new to that particular store so I don’t know Brian that well, nor do I know who he is going to try and find, Brian didn’t talk much. We get to this guys apartment building, and since it’s a lockout building, we hang out in the truck for a few minutes until we can catch someone going in or coming out so we can get around the locked door. Well it doesn’t take long and we jog up to the door just as a woman is going in, but as she sees us she tells us she can’t let us in, kind of a pisser but hey, no big problem, less than three minutes later we are inside anyway. We knock on this guys door and lo and behold, he opens the door immediately. Now I didn’t know jack shit about this guy at this point because Brian didn’t tell me shit, but it turns out that Brian had been swinging by this guys place three to four times a week to try to get inside his apartment and get out stuff back, which happened to be about $3k worth of bedroom furniture. The reason the guy opened the door is because that bitch who wouldn’t let us in earlier was his wife, she went up a floor to her friends apartment and I guess Mr. X was expecting her home, and not us. None of this I knew, so when Brian tells me he needs to get a screwdriver from the truck to take apart a dresser, I follow him out to the truck. And this is where the shit basically hits the fan.
Brian turns around and sees me standing behind him, and his face falls like he just watched me tear the head off of a puppy. He immediately curses, and runs back to the guys apartment door. No dice, it’s locked. We bang on the door, we get this in return.
Mr. X.- “Sorry guys, can’t let you take my bedroom set”
Brian - “Dude, you need to open this door or are things gonna get ugly”
Mr. X - “Sorry, can’t do it.”
Sweet Sassy Molassy I got pissed, but I’m sure Brian was about to start flinging poop like a monkey at the zoo. So the first thing we do is call our manager, if we’re about to get ugly we want managerial approval on this one. Brian does all the talking, Manager tells us one thing.
“JUST GET IT”
Carte Blanche, just my style. So first thing we do is knock on his door, then Brian starts pounding it with his open palm. While he does this I walk around to the guys back porch, where he has a sliding glass door. I begin tapping on this very rapidly with a screwdriver tip. This goes on for about 10 minutes, the only time we stop is when we yell at him at the top of out lungs to open the damn door. Keep in mind we are in an apartment building, around 6, so most everyone is at home.
So they come out to talk to us, ask us to stop. Very politely I might add. Equally politely, we tell them no. Over the next 15 minutes more and more people come down to tell us to please stop, stop now, for fucking sakes dear god stop, and finally stop right now or I’m calling the police. Here’s a sample of a conversation I had.
OldCharlie - *taptaptaptaptaptaptaptap* OPEN THE DAMN DOOR.
Nice Lady - “You need to stop that shit or I’m calling the police.”
OC - “Call ‘em”
Nice Lady – “I WILL call the police, just stop that fucking noise”
OC – “Lady, I WANT you to call the police. When they get here I can tell them about this thief here.”
Nice Lady – That motherfucker don’t concern me, I gotta study, I have a test tomorrow. Just stop the noise or I call the police”
OC – “Lady I’m TELLING you to call the police. CALL ‘EM”
Now at this point Mr. X has heard all his neighbors says they are calling the police, and that when they get here, we’re gonna be telling them about the fact he’s trying to steal a bedroom set. So he FINALLY decides to open the door. We’re hualing our merchandise outside when Johnny Law shows up. I walk over to ‘em, shake hands and introduce myself. I tell the 5-0 what happened and they laugh their asses off, tell us they have all kinds of problems in this neighborhood. He gives me his card, I tell him thanks, and they hang out while Brian and I load the rest of the stuff into the truck.
You know, to serve and protect.
I guess some of the most memorable stuff was the employees. The job itself would get fairly routine, even to the point where I had a quick comeback I used when people would threaten me with violence over the phone. Threats of violence generally didn't occur when I actually went to a home because when a 6'4" deathly pale guy who movesw bigscreens for a living is polite to you, you generally want it to stay that way.
Anyway whenever someone would threaten to kick my ass or tell me that I'm gonna get "Kilt" I would just tell them to come over to the store, I'll call the police, and we'll see what happens. But I digress.
My favorite employee of all time would have to be Charlie Bates. Charlie was blond, blue eyed, a black belt in something or another and borderline alcoholic. This guy was dedicated to being crazy. We would be driving around the ghettos of Dayton and he would open the truck window, shove his entire torso out the window and scream "CALL ME THE MILKMAN" as loud as he could. He had ZERO conscience. He once told me when he was knocking on a door and they wouldn't open up, he would take out his lockblade and smash their peephole with it. After working there 2 days he nabbed a guy I had been chasing for three months by telling the guys girlfriend she was hottie (BLAZING FALSITUDE)and when she opened the door he just walked in and wouldn't leave. He called me in for backup and when I got there he was tossing thier rented bunkbeds out a second floor patio door, so he wouldn't have to leave the house. After that I always called him Master Bates. I always felt safe around Charlie because he loved a fight, and would provoke people much more than usual. We had to let that crazy fucker go after he let the air out of someone's tires IN BROAD DAYLIGHT, about 4 people saw him do it. Le sigh.
As for the the question about my conscience, I think the most asshole-ish thing I ever did was go into someone's house to pick up a set of metal childrens bunkbeds. The kid, who comes up to my knee, walks upto me and tugs on my pants as I'm pulling out bolts.
Kid - "Where are you taking my bed?"
OC - *no hesitation, don't even look at the kid* "It's my bed now."