I was a record store monkey for about four years. This job requires a lot more than sneering at people who ask where the lastest Enya record is or who don't recognize a Guided By Voices tune. A record store employee must also be able to take as many surreptitious breaks as possible without a supervisor knowing, be able to survive the crap your higher-ups force you to listen to, and find the best ways to piss off a customer without sending them from the store, vowing never to return again.

Another of the big record store duties is opening sealed merchandise to play it for a customer or to break it down into smaller components, thereby making it easier to steal. Anybody who has tried to open a shrink-wrapped CD quickly (and I'm pretty sure that's everybody) will tell you that it's a nigh impossible task, but there are a few tips that make the job easier.

  1. The primary key is finding an object with a lot of right angles, presumably something sturdy that you don't mind having evidence of wear and tear (there's a reason why record store counters are often rounded and dull instead of pointy). I use the edge of my kitchen counter, but that's because I secretly hate my landlord and don't care about my security deposit.
  2. The bottom of a CD jewel case has a bunch of ridges. I'm pretty sure they're put there expressly for this purpose: place the bottom of the case at a forty-five degree angle to your counter edge (or whatever) and drag it towards you in one swift motion. Depending on how sharp the edge you're dragging it across is, it may take a few sweeps, but the plastic will rip enough to the point where it can be easily torn off.
  3. Don't use this technique with digipak or similar paper cases: you'll rip the hell out of the packaging, which is bad, m'kay? Most digipak-type cases are easy to open, though, so don't worry your little head over it. Insert your coke nail between the cover and the piece of the case that holds the CD in place, and slide it across the wrapping. Easier than sex with your loose loose sister.
  4. Many newer CDs have that annoying piece of tape on top that displays the group and album names, plus the bar code. These are put there to make the distributor and record store jockey's job easier: no longer do we have to search for bar codes: it's right there on top. Of course these just make it harder for you, the consumer, to get to your hard-earned Britney Spears or John Tesh or Kenny G album, right? Wrong. Here's a tip from the pros: open the bottom hinge of the CD case (be careful not to rip it off: only a little pressure is needed) and open the CD that way. This will make it easier to pull the top label off, sure, but it's also how record store employees are able to reseal opened and previously played merchandise, leaving the average Joe none-the-wiser. Clever, no?

A lot of record stores sell CD case openers, which are basically a piece of plastic with a razor blade and an indentation as wide as a jewel case. Not only is the counter technique above cheaper (as in free), but those razors are duller than a backwater Arkansas brain bowl competition. Take it from your pal Chigrub: this technique will open any of the crap albums you buy, and even some of the good ones you might accidentally happen across.

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