Tonight I was actually in the store where most of the truth based tales from this comic happened. There are only 2 people left working there who were around at the same time I was. They’ve been burning through employees since I’ve been gone. I’ve seen the rotation happening over time and check in every so often. Anyway, one of the girls was working tonight and was talking to me when an older gentleman walked up who clearly needed some help. I stepped back so she could actually do her job. Dude wanted a book about filmography. Honestly I’m surprised the word filmography appeared in the search at all. Every entry was deleted, but they were available at some time in the past. Rather than just leave things be I stepped in with the title of the only book about it that I’m aware of. A friend of mine had it, so I remembered it for whatever reason. The title was too long to search for. A pretty big failing the search system has always had. I know there are tricks to make it work better, but I’ve been away far too long to recall them now. My friend politely told him the situation, but it was really obvious that things weren’t going to end there.
Let me back up a bit and describe the guy in a little better detail. He’s a little pudgy, white haired, probably in his 60s if I’m kind, with a lazy eye that keeps checking out the other side of the store, and he keeps mentioning that he’s won an Emmy for filmography and another award whose name escapes me, but I recognize it. He mentions these awards no less than 3 times while he’s asking about the kind of book he wants. I’m not sure what reaction he wanted out of the two of us, but he absolutely wasn’t getting it. My friend is pretty no nonsense and unfazed by junk like that, and I’m a dick who doesn’t give a fuck, so we weren’t fawning properly.
Honestly I would have just walked away, but I wanted to chat a little more. I was hoping that the guy could be served quickly and I could go on contributing to store truancy. Unfortunately things evolved into a discussion about how the Internet is destroying the very fabric of old media. Again, the guy clearly didn’t expect either of us to actually understand what he was saying, but I’ve spent a lot of time listening to podcasts, and being around film students. Every time I made a salient point he would visibly stagger. He kept sort of arguing with me about the whole situation, even though we were on the same side, and he kept name dropping things, and mentioning his awards.
In the back of my head I’m constructing a fictional biography for this guy. I felt like anyone who would go this far out of his way to constantly bring up his accolades must have led a very unsatisfying life. One where he never felt like he got the proper amount of worship. I can empathize. I’ve also been around many people like this. I’ve just never encountered an aged one in the wild. Generally with age people gain perspective and stop harping about their major awards. Apparently this guy never did.
He’s mentioning stuff I’ve read about too. Things that I’ve seen Scott Kurtz rant about from the opposing side. specific events that he was on the ground floor of. Newspapers shutting down. Jobs being lost, never to return. The man was the raging voice of dying media, desperately clinging to whatever praise was still left to be pawed over. On some level I feel responsible, in a small way, for helping destroy this man’s retirement years. He’s kind of a Reggie though so my remorse is tempered by that.
I have a feeling that if you could crack his shell of Reggieness a person would find a wealth of information and wisdom, but I hadn’t the time or the tolerance for it. By the end of our interaction there seemed to be a pleasant respect between age and youth though. He eventually saw that I wasn’t any happier about the loss of standards and journalistic integrity than he was. It was unspoken, but quite clear.
I hope he finds the perfect book for his granddaughter, and manages to pass on some of some of his wisdom and integrity to her.