Sunday, March 29, 2009

My Jack Bauer Moment

Previously...On 24...

A few months ago, an acquaintance of mine told me about a great DVD store in the greater Beijing area. Eight kuai DVDs. Good quality ones, at that. Given that I'm not really even sure where to rent or buy the "real thing"--I haven't seen any Blockbuster or Net Flix in this town--I went with her to this neat, clean, and organized shop, and watched her stock up.

The following events take place between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. The events are in real time.

Fast forward to today...Running a bit low on our movie choices (you can only watch Zoom so many times!), the kids and I decided to venture back to make a few selections for ourselves. A bus, a subway, and a half mile walk later, we reached the store and walked in. The place was unrecognizable to me. I thought that maybe we were in the wrong place, since the videos were marked with hefty prices and the selection was, shall we say, meager in comparison to my previous visit. Bummed and befuddled, we walked out a different door...And paused, as I realized there was no way I was wrong on this one.

At that point, we turned around and went back in. I walked up and down the aisles, searching for the piles I had seen last time and was convinced that they had just reorganized. Noticing my confusion, an attendant came over to me and "asked" what I was looking for. "You ershisi ma?" I asked. "Xiao deng," she said and went to get another clerk. When the second girl came from what seemed like out of nowhere, I asked again, "Do you have 24, Season Seven?" She looked at me strangely and said, in English, "Season Seven? Season Seven is only half finished." I said, "I know." Then I asked again, "You ma?" She gave me a look of knowing, and said, "You."

Then, she ushered all three of us out of that store and into a hallway that led to another hallway, through a door near the toilets, and through yet another closed, gray a small room with no windows.

There they were! Bundles and bundles and more bundles of DVDs, boxed sets, and...ahh!...24. But where were we? Should they have blindfolded us before bringing us into this smoky, back room? They didn't, but nonetheless, I don't think I would be able to find this place again even open-eyed, given the maze we went through to get there. It doesn't matter, though, because what was waiting for us was worth the walk and the "danger." We walked out with a nice stack of good quality DVDs at a price to match.

I guess the password was 24. But...shh!...Don't tell anybody...



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