Lessons from the movie theater

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Posted 9/20/16 (Tue)

What A Joke
By John Bayer

One of my great joys of living in North Dakota has been working at the local movie theater. Bigger cities have their multi-screen megaplexes, but there is something special about the small town theater. One movie on one screen for one weekend. Prices that would make people in big cities green with envy.
I’ve learned some things too from working at the movie theater:   
1. In life, you ought to treat yourself. Every movie is better with popcorn, candy and pop. They make a good movie great, and make a terrible movie almost bearable. 
2. When no one’s watching, people tend to be jerks. North Dakotans like to believe that they are proper and conscientious people, but as soon as you put them in a dark room, all bets are off. 
It’s amazing to me how many people believe “theater floor” equals “garbage can.” I’m not talking the inevitable stray popcorn flying from your bucket onto the floor. I mean empty pop cups, half empty popcorn bags, chewed gum and nearly full boxes of Charleston chews. All just laying on the floor, waiting for the enchanted Cinema Fairy to wave her magic wand and make it all disappear.
3. North Dakotans are not, on the whole, great communicators. Most nights I work the box office. And every night, without fail, someone comes up to my counter, looks me in the eye and says nothing. 
It then becomes my job to guess what form their movie going experience will take. “Are you three together?” The man at the counter scowls at me. “No! Just me.”
I take his money and pull his ticket. Then the young lady next in line comes up. She hands me money, but says nothing. I ask, “Are you and your boyfriend both 13 and over?” Her face gets red with rage. “He’s 11 and I’m his mother.”
4. The secondary lesson here: As it turns out, I am in fact, not psychic.
5. Movies are still magic. Our televisions screens keep getting bigger, and films at home get more accessible by the day. Still there’s something about going out to the theater, walking into that large auditorium, and settling into that movie seat. The lights go down as the screen comes alive with images of places you will never go and people you could only wish to meet. It’s magic.
And then you pull too hard on that bag of candy, sending a hundred M&Ms flying through the theater. But don’t worry, the Cinema Fairy will be by later tonight to clean it all up.