Students amass huge pile of AOL CDs from local businesses

By Cyrus Moussavi 2005

When senior John Paulsen tells people what he does when he is bored, the response is often an unusual one.

“Sometimes people are like, that’s awesome” Paulsen said.

This reaction would not be out of the ordinary if Paulsen’s after-school activity was cleaning up oil spills in Somalia or helping babies that are caught in plastic bags, but he does something a little less constructive.

Paulsen and man other anonymous CFHS students are a part of a disturbing trend that is sweeping the nation and striking fear in the hears of pimply video store clerks everywhere: collecting AOL CDs.

Paulsen and company have acquired about 5,300 of the annoying promotional discs that Internet service provider AOL sends to private homes and large businesses.

When you hear about Paulsen and his cohorts’ collection, you immediately wonder why anyone would want 5,300 AOL CDs. The group stated collecting the CDs out of boredom after the idea was passed down to them by friends who have moved on to college.

“I have no idea what we are going to do with them,” Paulsen said.

A search of the Internet shows that Paulsen and company are not alone in their quest for AOL CDs. Everyone has different reason for seeking the discs and different uses for them.

A site devoted to collecting 1 million AOL CDs and dumping them in the parking lot of the AOL company has received over 1.4 million hits in less than a year.

There are also countless websites by moms across the country who are abusing their right to Internet access by showing the public how to make whimsical rabbits and moose using three AOL CDs, a box of Grape Nuts and pompoms.

Whatever the reasons, in the end, it all comes down to the CDs. In the case of Paulsen and his crew, most of their 5,300 CDs have been acquired by “clearing out” the racks of free AOL CDs at local stores. Targets range from Econofoods to Blockbuster.

Simply walking into the store, grabbing all the CDs off the display rack and sauntering back out into the parking lot can yield hundreds of CDs for the collection.

Naturally, most stores do not appreciate this form of business. The manager of a local store, speaking under anonymity, said that even though the CDs are free, “We prefer people to just take one.” But Paulsen and his pals have stuck with their collection, through thick and thin. “We just do it for fun,” Paulsen said.

While AOL CD collecting is still just an underground phenomenon, maybe someday your children will be among the millions running large companies out of business while adding CDs to their ever growing collections.

Until that glorious day, Paulsen and company are willing to take any contributions of AOL CDs you may get in the mail.

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