-- Movie Theater Fan Mail --
Mr. Amazing Ben,
Thank you so much for your article on working in movie theaters. You pretty much nailed all the really frustrating things. The most important line of the whole piece is this: "Being employed by a large multiplex is one of the quickest ways around to cultivate an undying hatred for the human race." I've never felt more anger towards humanity (and despair, honestly) then when I've dealt with customers at a movie theater and/or the piles of shit they leave behind.
I've worked for several multiplexes under several different companies, and they all suck donkey balls. I was probably an usher most often. Once we had a customer who must have been bulemic or something, because maybe once a week we would find a fucking gross pile of regurgitated half-digested popcorn on the floor. Kids, as you said, were the fucking worst--they seriously just spend the whole movie throwing shit everywhere. And some of the other things people leave behind...I don't want to make another list, but it just leaves you shaking your head thinking, "What the hell is wrong with people?" Some nights were especially terrible because the local teenagers had decided the multiplex was part of their stomping grounds, and we actually had separate gangs that controlled the different hallways on the weekends. Being an usher meant having to break up fights sometimes, and there was plenty of throwing-out to be done, because few of those little bastards bought tickets.
I have several white shirts that are now forever ruined on account of the fact that they are covered in yellow coconut oil. One place I worked required that the concessionists put the butter on for the customers, which meant we had to sit there and pump away waiting for some cow to say "when." I remember a certain woman who just wanted more and more butter...I lost count at 70 pumps, but I think it was something like 90 or 100 and the bag was about five pounds heavier afterwards. We calculated the calorie content she was about to consume, and concluded it was over 10000 calories, and maybe 970 grams of fat. Even better was the douchenozzle assfart who discovered that the butter wasn't really butter but rather an "artificial butter-flavored topping" and from that point on every time he came in we'd ask if he wanted butter and he'd say, "Yes, I would like some artificial butter-flavored topping." Unfortunately I could not add a loogie flavor because the butter pump was at the front of the counter.
What really made me blow a fucking fuse was when I was in the ticket booth and some jackass would ask, "Are the previews over? Has the movie started?" A few times I actually said, "Let me find out!" and I got out of the booth and proceeded to walk as slowly as possible to the theater to see if the previews were over--hey, they wanted to know, and how the fuck else would I know? And then, of course, if the movie is already in progress, people always find some way to blame the employees. Hey dick, you're the one who can't get to a fucking movie on time! Sometimes they'd show up so late that we had stopped selling tickets for the night, and try to guilt us into letting them in for free--as if tardiness earns you a free movie.
I was so happy when I became a projectionist and I got to hate the human race from a distance, as if a god looming over them. Getting into the projectionist club is not easy because you have to be hand-picked by the head projectionist...it's like joining the Masons or something. On Thursday nights when we pre-screened the movies, the projectionists would get together and drink in the parking lot, doing donuts in their cars. Until I became a projectionist, I also thought of them more as myths than reality. I still do actually think of projection as somehow magical. It's true about projectionists always being weird in some way, and one good thing to know about us is to never open the door to the projection booth without knocking--not that we would have our hands in our pants or anything, but it just freaks you out to be in that dark space alone with those machines and then to have someone barge in. It feels like a violation...you get lost in a strange hypnotic world or something, I don't know.
But anyway, it's a little bit better for me now because I used my "first class" projection skills (and BA in Psychology? damned economy...) to score a gig at an independent "art-house" theater that sells beer and wine and other good things, and specializes in movies that don't star talking chihuahuas. Everyone I work with is also a writer or musician or film-maker in their spare time, which is totally awesome. Due to limited staffing I have to deal with customers more, and they are usually fucking snobs, but it's still light-years better than the tidal wave of disgusting humanity that is a multi-plex. The funniest part about this one is that people always ask us with a look of confusion, after we serve them a beer or glass of wine, "Can I...can I take this...into the theater?" Jesus Christ! Why the fuck would we sell you something you can't enjoy while watching the goddamn movie? (I can see the thoughts in their head: Oh my god all the regular movie theater rules don't apply I don't know what to do oh my god oh my god oh my god I need my blankie!!!)
So I'm sorry you also had to go through the multi-plex experience, like so many countless others. There's must be something that binds us all together...or not. (I mean, besides outright disgust with humanity.) I thought you would like to know that not all movie theaters are like that, as I was pleased to discover when I started working at the indie theater. We need more places like that.
And we need more websites like yours, because it provides me and my co-workers with endless amusement.
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