Sunday, May 6, 2012

Pazz, Jop: An Embarrassing Interlude

Probably a redundant title as most of my interludes tend to be of the embarrassing variety.

Anyway, in the summer of 1989 I was changing jobs and was asked what I'd like as a going away present.  I didn't have a CD player yet, so I thought I could use this gift as a jump start on a CD collection. (Ever hear of DAT?  No one else has either.  It stands for digital audio tape and it was considered a better technology than CDs, so I was waiting for CDs to die out and DATs to take over before committing to a new technology. I always was a betamax kind of guy.)

So, I thought, why not just give them the list I’ve been carrying around for the last few years? They could get me whatever I hadn’t already gotten! Genius!

Ah, but that list was folded, frayed and stained with hot sauce. Pretty nerdy, if not downright weird. I’d have to re-write it, as if it belonged to a normal person

But it occurred to me that if I hadn't succeeded in finding these obscure records after years of trying, what made me think these well-meaning amateurs would? To my horror, I realized that they'd quickly give up and get me a tie instead. So I’d have to guide these very good intentions in a way that ensured that they weren't wasted.

So I created a prioritized list, which went something (exactly) like this:

  1. New CDs I’d like, taken directly from my first list. (ie. Joy Division's Closer)
  2. CDs to replace some albums I had that were really old and scratched. (Beggar's Banquet)
  3. CDs of records that I had shared with my brother but didn’t have the nerve to steal when I moved out. (Europe 72 by the Dead)

But this just describes what I wanted, not why one type was better than the other. So let me now give you the Jaybee translation, which I actually had the nerve to tell of of the befuddled gift givers:
  1. I’d like you to really try to get these records. I know that they’re harder to find because hasn’t been invented yet. But I don’t want you settling on the easier ones in section 2 and 3 unless you give these the old college try.
  2. Okay, you did your best with the 1s. Now you can try for these, which will be really nice to have in a pristine version. But give it a good shot before moving on, okay?
  3. All right, I believe you when you said you did your best, and although there are other records I’d prefer, I’m perfectly happy with these. Are you sure you went to the record store I recommended? And remember, no tie!

By the time they gave me the gift they were happy to see me go. But I got the CDs I wanted.

And this was just the beginnings of what I came to call my Gift Management Strategy, which had a rough start but ultimately found its home in my wish list.

If it hadn’t, I would have been bludgeoned to death in my sleep (I would hope) by now.  

There’s still time.

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