Listening to: the blood coursing through my veins
So I took my kids to see Star Wars this afternoon while my wife and mother-in-law went shopping. I was sad to have my middle child say she'd rather shop until she drops than see the movie. We get to the theater at Chesterfield Mall in St. Louis and use the confirmation code to pick up the tickets my wife pre-ordered online two days ago, two adult and two kids. Since my middle child didn't go, I figured after we got our seats I'd get a refund for her ticket.
My mother-in-law and wife both rolled their eyes at me for insisting on heading to the theater at 1:45 when the movie didn't start until 3:30, but I knew better. First one in line gets the best seats, right?
So we get our tickets and walk over to the nice young man in the wheel chair taking them and ask about the 3:30 showing. He checks his chart and points out of the theater into the mall at a hallway off to the left and says "3:30 showing line starts right there, Hold line A." I thank him and we go over to discover that we are indeed the first in line.
After about 10 minutes a couple of people got in line behind us. By 2:30 I turned to one of them and said "We're all going to feel really stupid if at 3:20 they come to take us into the theater and there's only 12 people here.." We all laugh and go on talking amongst ourselves.
Shortly thereafter my daughter says to me under her breath "Dad! That lady is giving those kids glow sticks!" A woman had brought a few boys and I asked if they already had their tickets thinking I might scalp my extra rather than go stand in line to return it, but she said they already had theirs, it was a birthday party with 20 boys...
By 2:50 the line is long and my daughter is eying the crowds of people milling about between us and the theater entrance. Another line has formed on the other side of the hall almost as long, presumably for the 3D showing.
At 2:10 my daughter said "DAD! That blonde lady with the boys getting her tickets torn! She just got out of line from behind us and went into the theater!" I told her to wait there with her brother and walked over to the entrance. A different young man was standing there taking tickets and I said "Excuse me, but I've been waiting for the 3:30 showing of Star Wars for an hour and a half so I could be the first one in, and you just let several people in for that movie. When is someone going to come let the line in?"
He looked at me blankly and said "I don't know about that sir, I just got here."
"Well you better figure it out and get someone over here right now."
He keyed the control for his headset and after a moment said "Someone will be there in just a moment. I walk back over to the line and see several other people from the front of the line looking as disgusted as me. Shortly a young lady walks over and shouts "Are you ready to see Star Wars?" Many people yelled yes in excitement, I bit my tongue and narrowed my eyes. I hand her our tickets and she says "Your movie is on screen 10, inside to the right."
We double-time it into the theater and find the door to 10 closed. Opening it we walk down the long L-shaped hallway and turn into the theater to find about 8 people already seated, surrounded by coats and glow sticks, 'saving' seats in most of four rows of the theater.
"Oh hell no!" I snarl loudly. "This is absolute Bull!" I walk up to the middle isle where my place as first in line should have allowed me to sit and glare at the woman sitting in my seat. "I didn't stand in line patiently for an hour and a half so you could get my seat!"
I take the kids to the third row from the back, the closest we could get and still sit in the middle, and once they had our seats I left to get popcorn and Coke, and a manager.
As I did some of the others who were right behind us expressed their disgust and I told them I was going to get the manager. At the snack counter I waited for one person to get served before I got there. "I need a large popcorn and a large coke, and I demand to speak with a manager." The kid rings me up and says "A manager?"
"Yes, right now." I try to keep my cool as he toggles his headset while he gets my popcorn and hands me an empty cup. (I hate those stupid fountains with all the flavors coming out the same spigot). The girl who took my ticket comes over and I explain this all to her. She turns to someone and says "Did you let people in when you were cleaning the auditorium?" Before she can continue I interrupt "That's not what I said, I said the kid over at the entrance took tickets for the movie before you came to get us in the line and there were several people in the theater when I arrived, despite my standing there waiting to be first for one and a half hours!"
The girl toggles her headset and I start to wonder when the world became so distant by using such connections. She says "my manager is over there and she can help you." I turn and walk over to the woman in the red shirt, snagging a piece of popcorn with my tongue off the top of the bag as I walk. When I get there a woman who was in the middle of the line behind me is there already complaining about the same problem. I say "I was at the front of the line, there ten minutes before anyone else, and I walk in to find 15-plus seats either filled or claimed with jackets and glow sticks."
The manager leads us over to 10 and the other woman says "I was here last night and the same thing happened." I drop off to get my soda and have to show the woman in front of me how to operate the darned machine, then run the fountain for a few seconds before I put my cup under to clear the god-awful Diet Coke from the system. When I return to the theater it's almost completely filled already and the manager is standing on the stairs looking at the center row where that demon-woman is sitting surrounded by seats taken only with coats. I stop next to her and she doesn't recognize me until I say "I was the first in line." I turn and point right at the offending piles of human refuse and say "There, the woman in the red scarf, the two boys there, the woman there in the black scarf, those two in the front row, and that woman in the back row. I walked in, and they were already sitting there with all of those seats claimed."
"Okay, sir, I'll see what I can do." I take the popcorn and soda to the kids and sit down for a moment. I watch as the manager walks down in front, then reaches up requesting to see the woman with the red scarf's ticket. She happily produces them and I shake my head, getting up and going down to explain for the umpteenth time what happened.
I reach the manager and the woman who had complained is talking to her too. "I'm sorry, but they have tickets to this showing, so I can't ask them to leave." The woman complains that she can't even sit with her kids because of this and the manager apologizes again. I ask "What's the point in having a line for people to wait in if anyone can just walk up 20 minutes before the film and walk in to get a seat?" She again apologizes and says that if we give her our names we can come to guest relations after the film and the manager will try to make amends, perhaps with passes to another film.
"I live 90 miles away, so I'm not sure what good that will do me.." I say with a sigh, but I step next to her and put my arm around her shoulder. Giving her a light hug I say "I do appreciate your efforts in an impossible situation. Perhaps all of the employees can be better trained."
She smiles and thanks me for my understanding before leaving. I turn to the lady who had complained and is taking a seat a bit too close to the front and say "I'm sorry, I should have taken a picture when I came in and saw these people in here, I just wasn't expecting to deal with this." She smiled and said "It's okay, we get to watch Star Wars!" I laugh and go sit with my kids as the commercials end and the trailers start.
My blood pressure is up though, and as I try to focus on the trailers and relax I can't help but be distracted as a few people come in to take the seats my kids should have had.. They're talking loudly and when the sit they are playing on their phones with the screen brightness turned all the way up. The last two of them to come in are well over six feet tall, and despite being two rows in front of us in stadium seating are partially blocking our view of the screen. They take their time getting settled..
Finally the lights go all the way down and the screen shows "A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away.." The music hits and the scroll starts… And I hear two women strike up a conversation behind me. I turn around and it's the last two coming in for their saved seats, standing with their backs to the screen and talking over the music to the woman who was sitting in the back row when I walked in.. I clench my jaw and try to read the scroll but they're just so damned loud!!!
Finally, about half way through the scroll I turn and yell at the top of my lungs "SHUT! UP!!!" Instantly the self-righteous indignation pours out of this putrid pile of self-absorbed ass-hattery and she says "Who are you talking too?! The movie hasn't started yet!"
My eyes about pop out of my head as I half stand and gesture at the screen screaming "YES IT HAS! TURN YOUR FAT ASS AROUND AND LOOK!" I sit down, steam coming out of my ears, eyes so blurry with rage that I can't read the last paragraph of the scroll.. My experience is as blown as my mind is with the level of stupidity I'm being bludgeoned with here..
They mutter something about ME being rude but quiet down as the scroll disappears.. I try to focus as the action begins but all I can think is that I'm about to start ripping out some weaves…
the movie is so awesome that it only takes me about ten minutes to calm down and get into it.. But that's 15 minutes off the experience, gone forever down the drain of disgust…
When the movie is over I can't bring myself to sit through the credits as is my tradition because I've never actually gotten comfortable after dealing with these villainous scum-bags, so I take the kids and go get refills on the soda and popcorn, then send them out to their mother while I go over to guest services.
The woman who complained with me is already there and after I explain another manager appears and I tell him what happened to us all. He apologizes and not only gives me four passes for the tickets I bought, but a fifth in lieu of a refund on the ticket we didn't use. They're good until August next year, so I imagine we can make a trip back to St. Louis between now and then to watch another film. All-in-all, I have to say that the theater was nice and the employees were very accommodating. I told the man that I didn't feel like anything should happen to the young man who let the people in, but that some serious training improvements clearly needed to happen so this wouldn't happen again.
As I turned to leave I went to shake hands with the woman who had complained, my comrade in getting screwed by life. She had a box in her hand and when she transferred it to the left I just leaned in and hugged her, saying "Bless you. Have a Merry Happy Holy Christma-Hanna-Kwanz-Diwali." She smiled and laughed a bit and said "The same to you."
Another chapter in my life story that will be entitled "You think you've got it bad?"