Thanks to My Career Advisor

Thanks to my Career Advisor for the work experience week at the local record store and the stunted ambition that didn’t make me realise all the guys working there had degrees and ways out into the coming digital age. The naivety to think I could one day make it back to the other side of the counter even if I wasn’t as good as the guy a couple of years older who got a job out of his work experience stint.

What I can say is that I learned that putting together the poster display is a brutal act filled with an abundance of paper cuts. There was the manager’s day off where for a short time before opening I was the only one there. Free to choose what to listen to. Too eager and scared of running out of time, grabbed the Belle & Sebastian album from the wall of shelves. I don’t know how long it was on for, only that it was swiftly removed once somebody of consequence arrived.

In time to come my favourite film would become High Fidelity, such was my obsession with working in a record shop. The next best thing to being a rock star when you haven’t the first inkling how to play an instrument. Lo and behold them playing the same B&S album as I did on that glorious morning.

Seymour Stein

I’m so clichéd

I’m guessing it’ll be difficult to find a 15 year old not riddled with cliché barring perhaps Greta.

I was complimented on my purchase of R.E.M.’s debut Murmur. It was, however, a very calculated purchase gleaned from reading a Top 100 albums book I was gifted at Christmas. There is maybe no bad way of discovering artists and music, but the culture of the thing viewed it with frowny eyes.

What came first, the music or the misery? There is nothing more dangerous for a perpetually single teenage boy obsessed with working in a record store than High Fidelity. Rob Gordon as role model is a flawed ideology birthing a want to be loved and work in, what we now know, was a dying industry.

Another glorious success on the road to record store-dom was giving the vegetarian guy a sausage and egg muffin for breakfast since they were out of egg ones. As a carnivorous teen surrounded by other mostly carnivorous teens (one kid was a vegan before it was cool) I wasn’t that au fait with vegetarianism. In my defence, he was a dick.

The Beta Band play a prominent role in one scene of everybody’s favourite record store rom-com and it would just so happen a classmate of mine at college was one of the band members cousins. This, in turn, led to an all-access pass at one of their gigs, a top five rock-n-roll moment for me. Number one, with a bullet, would be getting invited back to Bloc Party’s hotel room after one of them couldn’t get into the local rock club, where they let us know all about the sexual preferences of their contemporaries (that’s all I’ll say to avoid the libel).

I got plenty of perks and goodies from my work experience stint including a then cherished custom-made Clash t-shirt. The discount came in handy too while I was still part of the record buying public until cheap, illicit online ways replaced most of my traditional music shopping. I’m lucky the owner thought I had moved towns for university.

The biggest thing I got was the crazy high esteem with which I held working in a record shop until into my 20s, bolstered by John Cusack’s winning performance in the film of what I wanted my life to be.

I’m on the brink of being the same age as Rob Gordon and this essay is probably my “what does it all mean?” phase. The record store I “worked” at is now closed, caught between a death by digital and the vinyl revival. In the storefront still hangs a sign saying “For Let” and I have lowered my standards and set upon becoming a writer instead.



Scott Cumming enjoys reading too much to consider himself a proper writer. He resides in Aberdeen with his partner and two sons. Catch up with all his misdemeanours on Twitter @tummidge

Categories: Essay

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