Membership cards always have a place in my heart and wallet.
I’ve said it here plenty times before; I’m not anti-technology or against trends towards modernity, but I do like to stay close to the way things used to be when it feels right.
I own iPhones, pods, and pads, so I’m not really in the dark. I mostly like that stuff just for the convenience of it all. I hate the cold, empty feeling of relying too much on technology, but it’s a necessary one to endure. I can’t carry hundreds of CD’s and records with me everywhere go. So, the convenience allows me to easily zip out tunes by The Dickies, The Spinners or The Godfathers, and enjoy them quickly on-the-go.
A lot of people seem OK with the transition of not owning much “stuff” anymore. I understand that. Space becomes a problem. Married folks especially know what I'm talking about. Some people get older and just don’t give a shit about what the album cover looks like anymore. So, the album jacket or CD sleeve becomes expendable. Most people don’t want stuff. I get it. They just want what’s at the center of the Tootsie Roll Pop. Hey, I dig the Tootsie candy inside too, but I’m more of a fan of the candy around it too.
We’re a society, a world that’s downsizing, depleting, and detaching from “stuff"; a world which seems beyond ready for flying cars and more Jetson family contraptions (they had a clean, stuff-less house by the way). Remember the Jetson's home? Did you ever see anything laying around their crib? Nothing! Not a newspaper or a walkman, a backpack, a stapler, or even spare clothes.
But at my place, space is valuable. I have a lot of “stuff” and I’m not ashamed of it. It’s part of who I am. I’m guilty of sentimentality. I embrace the days long gone and former ways no longer followed. I guess that explains why I still have what's featured in the photograph. To some, they're relics of a bygone era.
Do they look familiar? I hope so, since we’re not too far removed from the days of needing those to secure entertainment for the evening. Younger people and fellow Videoport friends might only remember needing their phone number to gain access to movie rentals, but in the early days you needed these cards.
In the first days of VHS tapes, prior to easy manufacturing, those tapes cost an arm and a leg. You needed proof of who you were before they’d let you walk out with that VHS tape. Those things cost rental stores like $60-80 each. I’m talking back in the mid 80s, the breakthrough days of the VHS. I knew a friend who lost a VHS tape once and it cost his folks like $65 or something. Eventually, their value dipped to $25 each, and VHS tapes were produced by the millions, but originally, they were gold. You needed the membership card to get the gold. Sometimes, early on, you had to even pay for the membership.
I don’t know, those cards were kinda neat way back. A sign you were in a club. A cool club sharing movies and entertainment. With a zap of the laser gun your info popped up on an old school computer screen and you were officially allowed to rent freely. You might have even had credit for half off some Twizzlers too! Having a card for video rentals meant you were onto something. Like being on the guest list of sorts. The card was part of the process.
The card also brings us to a time where there was interaction. Remember actually talking to people live, face to face? That was really cool! You might have handed over your card and a copy of “Revenge of the Nerds” and said to the guy or girl behind the counter, “I love the guy who plays Booger.” To which the employee rebuts with, “Oh well have you seen Better Off Dead? Or One Crazy Summer? Or Risky Business?” That card could get you a caring suggestion without even asking for one.
It had its downfalls too, though. The card also highlighted when you were a bit too, overlooking of your obligations as a video renter. Late fees! Damn, that’s one thing I certainly don’t miss. I could have bought a house with the late fees I gathered in my younger, foolish years. Of course, that’s why it was imperative you had your own card. I know if I had $14 hanging over my head for keeping that friggin copy of “Porky’s” too long (for whatever reason), I’d have to sneak my dad’s membership card so I could rent something without adding those fourteen bucks to my bill.
The method is mostly gone today. Well, pharmacies use them so they can track our lives and decisions and you can save ten cents on a pack of travel size tissues next October. Again, it’s clutter to people. Wallets and pocketbooks are so jammed with gift cards and other items that we can’t make space for any other type of recognition proof.
Wait, actually Bull Moose still does! God bless ‘em too! I know when I step to the counter (just about every week) someone will ask me, “Do you have a Bull Moose card?” Proudly I dig in my wallet and say, “I sure do pal!” To which they reply, “You can just give me your phone number” as I flip through cards confidently knowing it’s there and wanting to complete the process. I could easily fire off my number to them, but I have this card you see! I have this physical confirmation that I’m a loyal shopper and believer in Bull Moose dammit and I’m gonna flash that baby to be scanned proper like!
Is the end result any different? No, of course not. With or without the card I’ll walk out of that store with a bag full of more music for my collection. Having that card though and going through a process, it keeps life from being entirely stuck in a “cloud”. The swiping, the screen pinching, the scrolling; it gets a bit too cutesy for me.
Having the card says to me, "I’ll not let this ever changing world dictate the course of life to me. I’ll choose how I do things! I’ll enjoy the process and keep my stuff thank you very much!"
Oh, and hopefully that card says I’ve earned enough points to get this new record half-off.