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Dollar Bin Tragedies: Missing Discs

Greatest dollar bin find ever? Or WORST NIGHTMARE?!

After years of thumbing through stacks upon stacks of unwanted music, sometimes I feel like I deserve something.  I don’t know, maybe by merely flopping a CD approximately ninety degrees to lean to its other side shakes up some dust and maybe makes it more attractive to someone else.  I have also, er, reorganized a few dollar bins to make certain discs stand out more so that others can pick them up.  Hey, there are some good ones that I already have!  I am a music avenger, trying to rescue music that deserves to be heard by fellow music avengers looking for a few good tunes.  I am a hero.  I am a hero!  I need a cape.

So … so yeah, I think I deserve a good disc now and then as a sort of high five for my good deeds and time spent working on my attractive hunched over posture.  It is when I find a disc that seems to grab my attention with a very light, yet dingy golden glow.  Its case looks immaculate, the artist is still getting plenty of spins in old and new circles alike, and I have been willing to spend a mere dollar on it for years.  It is the great find.  It’s the possible keeper of a disc that will make me wink at myself in the mirror at home while mouthing the words “you the man, you the man” over and over.  I may even impress the wife with the band and title (after a few reminders of who is in the band, what songs they sang .. well, anyway).  Needless to say, excitement floooows through my arms as I reach out to check its condition.

Then the lights dim and the dark laughter creeps into my ears from far away like Vincent Price returned.

To paraphrase Agent Smith from “The Matrix”, how can one check the condition of the disc if there IS no disc?  Arrrggggh!  I -hate- it when this happens.  It’s a painful jab to the gut for two reasons:

1)  Who the heck steals a dollar disc?  I mean, c’mon.  It’s a dollar.  You can’t cough up a buck for an album that someone didn’t want?  I mean, really, dollar bin discs are borderline collection additions for the most part to begin with because someone had to let them go for them to get there.  Of course, you will find a disc now and then that may shock you, but the most the discs could probably be valued at are within the $2-3 range.  There are no golden, master tape CDs here.  There are no autographed copies of an Elvis or Beatles disc.  These are dollar discs.  Given the state of the music industry, it’s inconceivable that someone would actually steal a CD given that many tend to rip them these days.  However, if you find yourself considering the theft of a dollar bin CD, look in a mirror and shake your head.  It’s dumb.

2)  What kind of organizational skullduggery is going on?  If one plans to sell something, shouldn’t one inspect the items that are being sold every once in awhile?  Obviously, if there are a ton of CDs then one can’t possibly (well, reasonably anyway) check to make sure all the circles are within the squares.  Sure, one or two will get away from any manager.  However, if it’s an entire fleet of disc-less album carcasses then maybe something needs to be done to either find those missing discs or get recycling.  A multitude of missing discs is definitely indicative of a shoddily considered plan and/or business.  Time to make a change.  Hey, frugal people are getting pissed, y’know?!

After all that ranting (felt good, thanks) it is probably more likely that a CD gets misplaced than it does get stolen.  Like I mentioned earlier, mp3s are what the music on the move people usually try and find (and steal, I guess).  It’s probably not worth the stress of trying to nick a CD without the case, sneak it out of an establishment, and then rip it.  What do you do with it then?  Throw it away?  Can’t sell it.  So no, I think they mostly get misplaced.

It is also much more likely that a missing disc occurs at the Salvation Army or some other donation location (library sales, etc) than a music store.  The managers of music stores and yard sales tend to know where their products are located, with the odd exception here and there.  I did once find a disc-less Byrds CD at a music store … very sad.  Since the Salvation Army has other products (nearly the entire spectrum at that) they probably don’t have cheap media on the mind.  Music stores, on the other hand, would lose some income and trusting customers if their stock drifted off.

So what could you do to combat the psychological blow of finding a missing disc?  Expect it.  If you find yourself at the Salvation Army looking for music, assume that not only will the disc be missing but, if it is there, it will be scratched.  It will keep the high expectations at bay and make that feeling of musical scavenging euphoria that much more potent when you find a perfect disc in your hands.  The method seems to work for me, anyway.  That is, unless I find three or four missing discs in a row.  Then it’s time for a loooong beer.

Note:  Referring back to the Beatles box set image at the top, it would be completely obvious that something was amiss if you found it in a dollar bin.  Missing discs, missing booklets, bad smell, the works.  It’d almost be like a trap…

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