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How do You Manually Rewind a VHS Tape?

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By Christian Roemer

My grandmother gave me a wonderful piece of advice when I was younger. She said that you can always tell the true measure of a person’s character by observing how they treat waiters and waitresses at restaurants. Actually, maybe it was an askreddit post a few months ago where I read that.


Either way, it makes a ton of sense.


In the 90s, we had a different gauge of how to see whether someone was a good person or not: did they rewind tapes after viewing?


In maybe one of the first widespread examples of corporate social engineering, Blockbuster did its best to try and get folks to be the best versions of themselves. Every tape featured stickers on the flap saying, “Be kind, rewind.” The sleeves had reminders. My memory might be off, but even the tape return slot had the phrase painted on it.


Despite Blockbuster’s best efforts, some folks cannot be redeemed. Tapes would still arrive at the rental service unwound and unloved. People desperate for a chill night of pizza and movie rental would unbox their temporary entertainment, see that the tape was on the wrong side of the enclosure, and curse the depravity of the anonymous individual who watched the tape last.


I have to admit that I’m a little bit nervous typing this because this article is actually about YOUR tapes. See, we’re talking about sending tapes to Southtree for digitization, so if they’re unwound, there’s only one direction to point the finger to assign blame. Admitting fault is the first step towards becoming a better version of yourself. 


If your tapes are unwound, you can begin rectifying your previous transgressions by winding them in penance. But here’s the problem: You haven’t owned a VCR in a good 10 years. What are you supposed to do?


Great question. It turns out you have a couple of options to get your tapes rewound before you send them to Southtree.


Option 1: Manual Rewind

Take your tape and place it face down on a table. Set it down with the flap facing away from you. Then, take your finger, a paperclip, or some other poking device, and begin turning the left spool counterclockwise. Continue turning until the spool won’t turn anymore.


This will be a manual and painstaking process. Remember that it’s likely the reason you’re having to rewind your tape manually is that you didn’t do it before when you had the chance. This is the perfect opportunity for self-reflection and meditation. Are there other areas of your life that you’re leaving metaphorically unwound?


We’re having a breakthrough. Enjoy the newfound understanding of proactive positive action in your life.


Option 2: Just send the tape to Southtree as-is 

Turns out that not rewinding your tape really isn’t that big of a deal. We have machines that can easily rewind your tapes when we digitize them. Why beat yourself up over something so minuscule?


If you want to manually rewind your tapes, it’s pretty simple to do. It just takes a bit of time to do it. If you’re nervous about us judging you for not rewinding your tapes before you send them in, don’t worry about it. Nobody actually thinks you can judge a person’s character on whether or not you rewound all of your tapes prior to tossing your VCR in the trash.


So send us your tapes and let us rewind and digitize them for you! It’s truly a win-win situation!

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