1568 Something Like That.

Hey guys. How’s everybody doing? Some of you might have heard that a company called Hastings filed for bankruptcy the other day. If you’ve never seen one they’re not unlike a Barnes & Noble, or even a Best Buy in some ways. They were a weird company because they were a Frankenstein’s monster of several kinds of store. When I worked there they were mainly a video rental store, with a music department, and a book department. The main thing was always the video rental though. Every part of the store was set up to serve that section most. I’ve never really come right out and said it, but Megatainment is largely based on that chain of stores because I worked for them for seven years or so. I didn’t do the video rental stuff because it would have dated the store to the point that people would get taken out of the story with my glacial pacing. I never made a big deal about it because I always thought that if I ever needed to get a retail job again I might need the references and Hastings was notoriously vengeful toward past employees, regardless of how you left. I gave notice, and left on good terms, but you never could tell with them. The management above the store level was just shy of psychotic. Honestly, I’m not really surprised that they finally failed. They were in a spiral for decades; unable to negotiate the waters of the new entertainment landscape. Rentals were still a thing even up to the end, because there were always people in town who didn’t want to, or couldn’t afford, internet. CDs fell out of favor to the point that there was little more than a single shelf at my old store in the end, and books never made enough to support the store. It was a long, grim, slide to the end. They gave it their all for quite a while though, but they could never get the deals to be really competitive with places that specialized in one area. They were always a little more expensive than every place else, and never had what you needed, you had to special order it. It always took 2 weeks. Eventually people realized that you could get it in 3 days from Amazon, at a lower price, and started doing that instead. That happened across all the departments at various times, in various ways. The Apple destroyed music, then Netflix got the movies, Amazon took down books. The physical store for entertainment is fading away. It’s really very sad.
I hated Hastings. I also loved it. My relationship with the store was abusive. They treated the employees like garbage, but we needed them, at least I did. I had so much trouble getting a job that I always felt trapped. People would ask why I didn’t leave when I hated it so much, but I couldn’t just go to a different place and start over. For whatever reason I have a ridiculously difficult time getting jobs. I suspect it’s because I don’t really take anything seriously. We’re all just corpses dancing in a graveyard in my head, so I don’t understand why every one is so serious about stupid things. If you want me to sell widgets just put me on the floor and I’ll sell them, but don’t expect me to believe that widgets are important. They just aren’t. They’re something to distract us from the constant misery of existence. That said, if widgets alleviate existential misery for people I’m happy to get them to as many people as I can. Just be happy when you ask and I’ll happily do my best to get you your fucking widget. But I digress…
On the other hand, I loved my store. My coworkers were the only friends I had. I’ve never been the kind of person who goes out and makes friends at bars, or whatever people do to connect with each other, so work was the only time I interacted with people. The rest of the staff were the only ones that I could depend on to be nice to me most of the time. Some of my coworkers became real friends. People I keep in touch with even now. Others just faded in and out of my life. Turnover in my store was insane, but we had a few pillars that could be depended upon. I became one of those. I was everyone’s older brother. Between Failures is the story of what I loved about work, which is everything but work. Helping people in whatever twisted way I thought was best is how I lived for all those years. In a lot of ways the comic is me just trying to make sense of all of that; trying to find the point of life in the mundanity of life as I experienced it.
My friends and I really did try to make movies. We made bad choices about dating other employees. We fought over meaningless things, made up, then fought again. It was Game Of Thrones on the smallest possible scale. The reason so much of the comic has the echo of truth in it is because a lot of it really happened to me. I worked with a lady who had a cousin at the home office, so she always warned us about visits from there. We had a string of young managers who struggled to succeed. Some of whom I got way too close to. We did ridiculous things like turning off the lights to mess with each other. Some of us never really got along, but we respected each other’s work ethic in spite of that. All of that stuff offset the constant misery brought on by headquarters and the customers. The only thing I miss about that time in my life is the people I enjoyed working with. Little people with big dreams trying to survive in the times between.
My old store still has the feeling of home to me. Even though it has changed a lot since I worked there. There are fixtures that still exist, the ceiling, the carpet, the mess… It’s still this place that I lived in for years. I passed it on to others, and now it’s finally going away for good. I’m much more deeply conflicted about it than I expected. The store was a real place that I existed as a part of for a while. Soon this comic will be the only way people can experience a part of that, the same way someday it will be the only way people can get a sense of who I was. A lot of my life has been colored by my struggle against impermanence. There’s no way to win against it I finally decided. We just need to learn to try and make the limited time we get as good as it can be for as many people as we can. This comic has always been my attempt to help people who lived in a way similar to how I did. I wanted to show them that there’s hope. You just have to appreciate the people who’re trapped between failures with.

Teen corner
hello world the teen is back! I returned from my brothers about a week ago. it went better than most of our other visits. he was pleasant the majority of the time and we didn’t hardly fight. there was one disagreement but other than that all was well. I helped with jones (the horse) and got to give him treats and pet him and feed him other than that I cleaned and cooked a bit and helped around the house. we got all of my parents belongings from my brothers shed and went through it and decided who got what. I know it seems wrong to go through my moms stuff considering she’s still alive but my brother was eager to clean out his shed so we sorted everything out and I took a box of things to seem if my mom wanted them the next time we visit. there wasn’t a whole lot though. we lost a lot of things moving various times. all our family photo albums were lost so my search for pictures for the senior slideshow is postponed, hopefully my aunt will have enough photos for me to use. when I arrived home the dogs were very excited. they still act like I’m going to disappear any moment jts dog Dorothy and my dog sissy have been stuck to me like glue. I’m not gonna lie its getting old Dorothy is to big to try to be in my lap all the time.jackie may have missed me for a split second but I’m pretty sure he no longer does though I’m sure hes glad he doesn’t have to cook anymore and my uncle is glad I’m the one cooking again so he says. I’m excited about the new baby Flint. he’s very cute and has a lot of hair I cant wait to meet him eventually. ive decided I should be his adopted aunt although I’m not sure his mom agrees. I went and seen the movie central intelligence it was funnier than I expected the rocks character in it was amusing. seeing the rock in a unicorn tshirt made it worth the watch. I have less than a month until school starts I cant say I’m thrilled but I’m anxious for my senior year. this summer has gone much to quickly for my liking though. last night Jackie showed me how to work the push mower and I mowed the lawn it very much needed it. it wasn’t the worst experience but my hands seem to be forming blister and I ended up with various bug bites and dripping swear but I needed the exercise so that’s good atleast. now for future reference I know how a lawn mower works. Jackie saved the world one tiny toad at a time while I mowed assuring they were a safe distance from me.


I was seriously disappointed to hear Hastings was closing and I found out when I went into it to do the shopping I did.

I found them to be the best place for Anime personally. Got CDs from there (I still prefer them over downloading to my phone or an mp3 player…think it feels like I own something more that way).

Though for 20 dollars for a shirt that you can find a variation of it at Wal-Mart for 7.50, I could see why it closed, but it was also a great place to find older movies.

Not happy about seeing it closing.

Regarding Hastings, I was really hoping they could pull it off and stay in business. I’m going to miss going to the one in Hutchinson, KS with my GF, because we could always kill time in there poring over books, games, movies, comics and all the other assorted stuff available. I’m one of those old timers that likes to go into a physical store to at the very least, check out an item before I buy it. Can’t do that with Amazon, and I’m going to have to get used to that now it seems.

I’m visiting my folks in Texas this weekend and visited the Hastings in Killeen, and it was kind of depressing. Hordes of people with carts crammed full of stuff, scouring through some areas that were already bare, and bitching about the lack of selection. Perhaps if people shopped as maniacally before the store started shutting down, could find a complete set figures for your collection. It was like watching Army Ants picking some hapless creature’s carcass clean.

Gonna miss these stores.

Very nice blog post today. I had never heard about Hastings before, but now I care about it a little because you care about it. I felt some similar sadness when a chain called Borders failed, although I never worked there.

The Borders close to Microsoft headquarters had a fantastic assortment of technical books and I could spend hours looking them over. (I did buy some; I wasn’t just a parasite.) But these days I buy almost all my technical books as ebooks (O’Reilly mostly) so I shouldn’t miss Borders really. One time I went there and a minor music star (Emer Kenny) was performing live… I’d never heard of her but I picked up her self-titled CD (http://amzn.to/2aqU8yi) just because I’m more easily won over by a live performance. I’ll never go to oreilly.com looking for technical books and accidentally come home with a new CD.

P.S. “It was Game Of Thrones on the smallest possible scale.” I rate this comment 10 on the 10 scale.

The Hastings in Greeley Colorado was where I slowly collected Red Dwarf on VHS and they always had some interesting anime and manga. “The times they are a changing’…”

It’s cold outside, there’s no kind of atmosphere. I’m all alone, more or less. Let me fly, far away from here. Far, far, far, in the sun, sun, sun.

In case you didn’t know, there have been two new Red Dwarf seasons I recent years. It’s the longest running BBC series since it’s never been officially cancelled.

I am still bitter that our Hastings closed. They were the only decent prices in town. Between Books a Million, Best Buy, B. Dalton’s, Sam Goody and Suncoast (he-hem…), they were the best price on almost everything here in town.. I spent a lot of my nights there, wondering around after work and finding interesting things. I miss it but I understand why it’s gone. We all have a fierce loyalty to our own store– the ones I used to visit everywhere else were terrible in comparison and we were proud of ours, despite it being old, run-down and sporting a bathroom that you would only set foot in under threat of your bladder exploding (and I think that is what must have happened in there on a daily basis).
The people there, the ones you knew, we’re incredible, helpful, fun. The rotating crap shoot at the registers was another story and most people blame their closure on some form of “bad customer service” because that is all they remember from shopping there. If they happened to be slightly more astute, they would blame Best Buy, but, really, it was a combination of things and even stores like Best Buy are trembling under the weight of it.
I miss all the stores but their day is sadly over. I don’t want it to be, but, there isn’t much to be done.

I love and simultaneously hate when someone so elegantly put to words that I can never speak, and lived a life so parallel to mine, Jackie. Being, I think, approximately 40% of the world away (Australia), I have lived a similar life over these past 8 and a half years. The Good Guys (yes, that is the name of the company, Google it…) have been a pit of misery, depression and even rage, yet somehow I also found a sort of family amidst the chaos. People who alleviate the misery, boost me up from the depression, and even soothe the rage within. We all help each other in our own ways, although damned if I know what people see in me that is useful. Now, however, head office is now centralising the whole corporate structure, and the store is being shaken. The family is being broken apart :(

I haven’t commented in a while, and I haven’t really read the blog posts in a while (ever since I became a Patron, since I figured any important thing would show up there. Boy was I wrong), but I never stopped reading the comic, and I think I’m going to go back to reading the blog. It really came as no surprise that you are such a great writer, but “the teen”(and I’m probably going to have to go re-read everything to really understand who she actually is and why she is there, I have very vague memories at best… unless someone wants to summarize it for me ;) isn’t quite as good as you. All I wanted to say with this is that you should give her some writing tips, because good writing goes a long way in the world, especially at a younger age, at least it was for me.

For the record I’m still in high school so my writing isn’t going to be as good as Jackie’s but also I don’t write on here the way I would for an essay or whatever. Writing on the blog is just for fun so Iddon’t really pay attention to my grammatical errors. Not trying to be rude just thought I’d put in my say.

I had no intention of being rude either, and I’m sorry if it did come across that way, but I am a big proponent for proper writing at all times. I believe that good writing is a skill that must be developed, and in my personal opinion, which you are free to ignore, you should always write the best you can and proof read your work regardless of how unimportant it is, because otherwise you will not be able to improve, or properly gauge your growth. School essays aren’t the end-all-be-all of writing, far from it, and mastering several forms (such as self narratives) can help you get respect in social circles that you might otherwise find it hard, but very beneficial, to get into, as well as getting jobs. Good writers are also generally very well spoken (or it might be the reverse, to be fair I haven’t really done any extensive research on the matter, I am a programmer not a psychologist) but at least from my observations of society and my own personal experiences, people who articulate well on paper and aren’t afraid of crowds are also well articulated when they speak. The thing is: practicing writing, especially public writing which can be peer reviewed and constructively criticized, has always been easier than practicing public speaking (which in many careers is a very important, or at least a useful skill to have) but especially in today’s age of the Internet, and especially when you have access to a publication form with thousands of active, and generally kind, readers such as this web comic, which means by always trying to improve your writing in any medium, you are really mastering two vital skills, one of which is much rarer and harder to master. Just my thoughts on the matter.

I realize that writing is an important life skill and that it does indeed matter outside of school but I assure you I’m the best writer in my class. Well at least that is what I am told by my peers and English teacher. Typing on jackies weird little tablet though is different than typing and honestly annoys me so I do not think to correct all of my mistakes. Also most people on here do not even respond to my writing in the blog so I was not aware anyone would care about my grammatical mistakes. Regardless I just thought I would mention that typically my writing is better. Also if you have not discovered who I am and why I’m here by now I’m the teen obviously. I am jackies younger cousin who lives with him and his family because long story short my dad died, and my mother ended up in a nursing home. If someone did not take custody of me and become my guardian I would have ended up in foster care I believe I was 13 at the time so jackies mother being the kind and wonderful human being that she is took me in. Jackie lets me write in the blog when I feel like I actually have something to talk about because he would tell stories about me in the blog on occasion so he thought maybe his readers would get a kick out of me.

I’m sorry about your father, and I am glad you have family to help you out, and I think it’s awesome that he let’s you have a corner of your own here. keep doing what you do :)

Some days, you just want to say, “STFU&MYOB.”

Bye, bye, Hastings, huh? We never had one near here (I live on the East Coast), but I bought stuff from them on eBay and Amazon. They always delivered, eventually, but I’m sure glad I wasn’t ordering heart medication from them.

The steamroller chugs on; Amazon, Mal*Wart and the Buy More are pretty much the only survivors. We have P.C. Richard & Son around here; in 10 years I never bought a damned thing from them and I doubt I ever will. The Buy More has been on its knees the past 5 years; their biggest competitor is their next year-end financial review.

I turn 41 tomorrow. This one kind of snuck up on me. 30 wasn’t much of anything. Never cared as much about 21, 18, or 16 as the mass media tells us we’re supposed to. That being said, I’ve been in a sort of nostalgic mood for the pas month or so, and I’ll blame it on the age.

Ah, Hastings. I currently live near Hastings, Nebraska. There is not a Hastings there. Ironic or poignant? Or just one of those things. In many ways I’m surprised Hastings has lasted as long as they have. The one I (still, at least temporarily) shop at moved from a building it’s own to a corner in the local mall. I’d known that was the kiss of death in a manner similar to the Radio Shack that previously inhabited the spot. I’m still angry about having to shop online for capacitors, resistors, and potentiometers. There’s just something about a physical space that can’t quite be replicated in cyberspace. Say, the way you can happen on something you weren’t looking for that wouldn’t bother showing up in the “people who bought this item also bought” section. Or meeting someone else with a similar interest, from your travel radius. I’ll miss swapping circuit diagrams with people more than I can explain. Especially for a hobbyist.

As for Hastings… It changed so much over the last few years. They outlasted Blockbuster by diversifying. Barnes and Noble are still… there, at least in cyber space if I haven’t seen a physical one for the last half dozen years (also outside of the major urban areas, so some physical locations could still exist. I’m hopeful about SoHo. People there are surprising about what they’ll back en masse sometimes… I’m looking at you, Tower Record store).

And here’s the funny part. It seemed everything was coming back, there for a second. Vinyl records (although small runs have always existed for DJs and other turntable artists), a friend of mine says cassettes are coming back (can’t imagine the why’s on that one short misplaced nostalgia for static, crinkled plasticine, low temperature meltage, and magnetic erasures…).

So the Hastings BRV on which this comic was based played an important role to me while I lived there. It was alternately a rental place (pre streaming), a hangout, and the place where a bunch of my friends worked. At different times, mostly. I don’t hold the same fondness for it as Crave. Never will. Never worked there. Wanted to (boooooooks…) but can’t the same way any bookstore I’d work at would pay me in trade one way or another.

Call it ennui? The going out of business sale started yesterday. Maybe I’ll find some random amusing widget. Maybe I’ll find something random and retro that makes me maudlin for a few hours. Maybe I’ll find that random copy of Bukowski, Kerrouac, or Portis that escaped the hipster’s notice. Or maybe just some old comics that I won’t end up buying anyway…

I was wondering about whether Megatainment was based on something like Hastings. I wasn’t sure exactly how big the company was though. Only one I can remember going to was in Coeur d’Alene, ID. Cool place to wander and experience, but except for some anime and manga, it was cheaper and a better selection to go elsewhere.

I think in the 1950s, in the Mid-West, and/or Pennsylvania, a slang term for, [are you gonna go get some sex [?]], was: “Are you gonna go get some JONES?”

OK, I’ll show myself out. [ Hee hee hee!]

I wonder:

Somewhere…is there a dog named Dorothy, who is owned by a girl named, Toto?

Yes, yes there is.

But they’re not in Kansas, anymore.

Ba-dum tish!
on a related note, have you seen that T shirt that’s a note that says,”Auntie M. Hate you. Hate Kansas. Taking the dog. Dorothy.”?

Ha! That’s a good one.
I haven’t seen that one, but I’ve seen one that has text like this:

” Captain Kirk.
I hate space.
I’ve stolen a shuttle.
I have vaporized Mccoy.

I feel odd mentioning it, but, I thought I’d mention to the teen:
To help protect your hands, I suggest calling a reference librarian, or someone who uses a lawnmower a lot, + ask them what kind of leather gloves/protective gloves are good to wear-to protect your hands while mowing the lawn. [ Ick! I’m not proud about my sentence structure, above!] :D

Thanks for the tip next time Imow I’ll take it into consideration and at least find some type of gloves :)

It’s me again :P
From my experience doing some construction and landscaping work, leather gloves tend to be the best bang for your buck. They aren’t the cheapest gloves in the world but they tend to last longer and protect better if all you are doing is using some yard tool or pushing a mower around. You want them to be snug and tight fitting to prevent unnecessary friction, and they will stretch out a bit, but you don’t want it to be so tight that it restricts movement or is excessively hard to get on and off. It’s hard to find work gloves for woman, and I never really looked, but gloves are gloves, so my recommendation would be these (try small or if you have big hands maybe medium): https://www.amazon.com/Carhartt-Grain-Leather-Glove-Safety/dp/B005I34H76/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

The nice thing about these gloves is that if they don’t fit right you can return them for free and get your money back or another size. If they are just a little bit big though you can try to wear glove liners underneath, or any thin glove really. Also if your skin is still irritated in some spot, you can apply some padding to your hand (you can get small moleskin patches for cheap at any pharmacy convenience store). I just did some digging the other day and all I had were those cheapish “thick” latex/polyester gloves you can get in small packs at any hardware store and let me tell you it didn’t take long for the hoe and shovel to dig holes into my thumbs. I probably lasted longer than I would have without those gloves, but if your yard is large enough that you are going to spend a significant amount of time outside, those gloves will just end up being a waste of money.

So we meet again. Haha thank you for your wisdom. I do not really mow the lawn enough to need to go out and buy gloves though so most likely I will end up finding some we have around the house if I need them again. Plus I am a teen with no job I have no money for gloves. XD

Hastings is dying? Man, I haven’t been to one for about 5 or 6 years. They were in every state except mine, so I can’t even do anything in their dying moments.

Sir, that was beautiful.
“The only thing I miss about that time in my life is the people I enjoyed working with. Little people with big dreams trying to survive in the times between.”
That feels like all of life for me, sometimes.
And that certainly was true of the time as a Customer Service Rep. High Turnover, one of the few pillars, and damn but it felt like time in the trenches. You didn’t have any SUCCESS at it, you just SURVIVED. I was ranked highest in one-call resolutions because I can research and communicate like a summabitch. But it STILL didnt make it better.
Two and a half years, then just shy of a year in an analyst position. After that, they tried to put me back in because the whole damn place was on fire. And they had the gall to call it a lateral shift.
So thank you. Thank you for making this comic. Thank you for posting. Its meaningful to alot of us, I think. It certainly means alot to me.

Thanks for that great blog entry, Jackie. Our Hastings here has been a mainstay for me for nearly the past 17 years. Once I got stationed back here in ’99, I discovered that store & thought I’d found true nirvana. As time went along though, all the things you described with the music, video & book departments started to fade away slowly, but surely.

When I first started reading your webcomic about 6 years back, one of the first things that popped into my brainpan was, “Heyyyy… this comic seems to be about Books-A-Million & Hastings, only put in a blender.” I even clued some friends onto your comic who work at both those stores in my town & got lots of gratitude for it. Even to the point of extra discounts when it came time for ordering items that weren’t in stock at those stores.

I only wish Hastings had gone the same restructuring/ chapter status route with a definitive tactic involved that both B-A-M and Barnes & Noble had done over a decade back. Seems that psychotic nature of the higher ups described by you & my friends turns out to be true after all. Such a shame…

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