AUTHOR: Beth TITLE: Remember-When Girl Addendum DATE: 3/25/2005 02:16:00 PM ----- BODY:
One more story to add to this post. More about me this time, though. I never understood why some people came to the theater. I mean, when Blockbuster would have been such a better alternative for their antisocial selves. Some people, I thought, should have been put on "Blockbuster probation" after a certain number of times they abused everyone they came in contact with at the theater, until such time as they could learn to behave themselves in public. If I'd had any faith in humanity left before taking this job, I had absolutely none once I'd worked there about two weeks. I saw people beat their kids right in front of everyone. Racial slurs were sometimes used by customers against employees--often, comically, incorrect ones. Older kids would be dropped off at the theater and spend all their time in the video arcade, pausing only to try to steal money from the cashiers at the box office (This is how they did it: they were there so often they were familiar with who was new and who wasn't. Or who was distracted and who wasn't. They'd walk up when it was busy and pester the new / unaware person for change for a five or ten, and if that person was careless enough to leave the initial bill on the counter while they counted out the change, the little brat would quickly take both the bill and the change and run away with it, thus doubling their money. Meanwhile, the cashiers couldn't leave their entire drawer unattended to chase after a kid, and since it was cash, there was no way to prove the money wasn't theirs. It was quite a scam). But what infuriated me more than the truly dysfunctional people or the neglected kids doing whatever because they weren't raised right, were the otherwise completely normal and rational people who, upon entering the theater doors, would suddenly forget every social norm and nicety they'd ever learned. Now, if I'd been working at a bank, or a grocery store, you know, someplace where something people actually need was bought, sold or traded, I might have understood the fury on the part of some people. But there was nothing whatsoever under that theater's roof that was essential to anyone's survival. You wouldn't know it sometimes to hear the customers. They acted like someone was forcing them at gunpoint to buy a ticket--and worse, to buy the hideously overpriced artery-clogging concessions. They'd order an extra-large popcorn dripping with butter and a 2-liter collector's mug of soda and some M&Ms and some Sour Patch kids and a bottle of water and then flip out at the concessionist just for telling them the price. On my end as a cashier, if we raised ticket prices, they'd bitch me out about it. I had people throw money at me, literally huck coins and / or wadded up bills across the counter because they didn't like the number I told them at the end of the transaction. I had people yell in my face plenty of times about raised ticket prices. To every one of them, I wanted to say, "Blockbuster is right down the street, sir. Or, if you are able, perhaps you could read a book instead." But for the most part I kept things in check. Another annoying habit of movie customers was to wait until, oh, ten minutes after the peak-time showing of a new blockbuster movie began on the first weekend night of its opening at one of the busiest movie theaters on the Eastern seaboard and then verbally kick the bejesus out of the box office cashier when it was sold out. More than any other customer misbehavior, this got to me. So when things finally came to a head for me, it was with just such a customer. It was 7:30 on a Friday night. There were thousands of people packed shoulder-to-shoulder in the vast lobby area of the theater building. It was literally solid people throughout every square inch of floor space in the building. Machines were blinging and blinking and roaring and the dull hum of the surround-sound bass from the theaters washed through every so often and the annoying jingles of the arcade battered the eardrums relentlessly. I came home from this job more often than not with ears ringing. This customer, in the midst of a line that stretched from my box office to the door (and I was one of six, count 'em, six cashiers who all had a similar line) came up and wanted to see...oh, I can't remember it now, maybe it was The Perfect Storm or one of those other huge, mega-movies we put in five theaters running every half hour and still had people fighting over tickets for. Problem: that movie had sold out solid for the night at about 3:30 p.m. This happened all. the. time. Apparently not to this customer. As I tried to explain, his face grew red, veins started standing out on his head and neck, and finally, pounding his open palms on my counter, he leaned right into my face and screamed, "YOU'VE GOTTA BE SHITTING ME!" I had had it. In my best deadpan, I replied, "I shit you not, sir." And then the asshole wanted to see my manager, because I had cursed in his presence, and this was not adequate customer service for his needs. The manager came over. The story was told from both sides. Finally, my manager looked at the guy and said, "Did you swear at her, too?" "Well...well..." the guy sputtered. I seriously thought his ears were going to start leaking blood, he was so worked up. "Next time you want something, sir," my manager told him sternly, "Don't be swearing at my staff." And he left. That was the first, last, and one and only time a manager at that place ever backed me up to a customer.