May 24, 2004

I blame that pesky "y" chromosome

God is punishing me. He send me a plague of 16 year old boys.

The 16 year old girls create great dramas full of emotional upheaval and love-hate-love relationships. The 16 year old boys break things. Expensive things, like the glass on the candy case, or the safe.

Yes, the safe. Last night one of my clerks stuck a plastic fork into the lock and broke off the tines. Since my mind does not comprehend 16 year old boy, I do not understand his motivation, although I suspect it was a combination of scientific inquiry and the general male tendency to enjoy inserting things into other things.

I fear that, like the plumber, the locksmith will need to go on retainer.

Posted by Susie at 10:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 12, 2004

This calls for a Congressional Investigation

Now that the construction crew is making merry in one of my theaters, things are getting a liitle too exciting for me. Yesterday, the electrician locked me out of my projection booth.

My theater is pretty old. It was built in 1971, and it seems that over the decades many of the keys to various locks have gotten misplaced. For example, there are locks on the theater doors, the emergency exits, the room where the ice machine lives, the popcorn warmer and several of the concessions drawers that no longer have keys. The projection booth has a yale lock and door handle lock, but since we don't have a key to the handle lock, we only ever used the yale lock.

It was my understanding that the construction crew would only have a key to the front door. Wrong! It seems that the owner's secretary gave the foreman the GM's entire keyring--keys to the whole building! This means he has a key to my office, my safe, and my store rooms. [The owner wants me to count the stores of bottled water every morning to be sure that the construction workers haven't pilfered any, and yet it doesn't bother him that they have an office and safe key. Insert RCA dog head tilt here.]

Well, apparently the eletrician thought he needed to look at something in the projection booth, so the construction guys unlocked the yale lock for him. Then someone locked the door handle before pulling the door closed. Did I mention we don't have a key to the handle lock?

So I go into work yesterday, and lo and behold, I can't get into the projection booth! Auuuugh!!!!!!!! Locksmith, stat! I had him disable the handle lock while he was there.

I can't wait to see what mischief those guys have gotten up to today...

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May 04, 2004

Ends at Odds

I should have known there was a full moon--our ice making machine died. With the new faucet for the mop room, that makes two break-downs. I'm hoping the fact that the roof was leaking again from the rain we had over the weekend completes the trilogy, but I'm not holding my breath....
(Repeat after me: Dear God, don't let the next one be a projector!)

The Bestofme Symphony is up for your reading enjoyment at goldie's. I submitted my beal post, which is rather appropriate since I seem to have school-related beal--I am avoiding my homework already, and it's only the second week of classes!

Why, I wonder, can't they make text books that are interesting? Would that be an oxymoron or something? I shudder to think of the torture this current text must be to someone who doesn't enjoy reading. It's as if the authors went to the Henry James School of Sentence Construction with graduate work at the William F. Buckley Vocabulary-Building Academy. Every sentence is an exercise in convoluted structure enhanced by obfuscatory jargon. I managed to slog through the first chapter and have absolutely no recollection of what I read (yet I can recount the plots and high points of the other four books I've read this week). I forsee a long semester....

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May 02, 2004

Murphy deserves to be disbarred

It's been pretty quiet at the theater lately, what with the nice weather and all, but the last few days have been chilly and drizzly, giving business a nice bump. So of course, the plumbing acts up. On Saturday. Naturally.

Why can't the faucet in the mop room (conveniently located in the haunted west men's room) wait until Tuesday to refuse to turn off? Because plumbers don't charge overtime on Tuesday, Silly!

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April 18, 2004

Some days the hardest part is a catchy title

I'm starting to think that dealing with the great, unwashed masses (aka "customers") every day is making me petty and cynical. Take, for example, last night's poster child for "Huh?": After I handed an unsatisfied customer movie passes in lieu of a refund, she threatened "I'm calling my lawyer!" as she stalked off. Naturally I politely replied, "Please do!" to her retreating form.
Please, DO call your lawyer so he can charge you a couple of hundred dollars over $3 worth of movie tickets. Consider it a stupidity tax....

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April 06, 2004

In which I elaborate on a prior post

I'm supposed to be working on my take-home final exam before I head into work tonight, but the Bartender's comment to this post got me to thinking. We need a common lexicon of some kind to indicate what would be obvious clues in verbal speech that the person communicating is using hyperbole, irony, sarcasm, or other forms of attempted humor.

While I wrote:

Last night's assortment of leftover children numbered seven, but as these were all high-school-aged I mercilessly kicked them out into the cold to wait for their rides. Today is another 11am to midnight for me, after all, and a girl's got to get her beauty sleep...
I was attempting to make light of the fact that what I do for a living can be very scary for an unarmed woman in an urban environment. Wait--"urban" has connotations in these days of PC speech. So let me explain that I live in a city with a metropolitan area that numbers over a quarter of a million people. And when you get that many people together in an area, some of them are bound to be bad not necessarily of the highest moral fiber and rectitude. Furthermore, groups of young men who run in packs (whether they are gang members or all on the same high school football team) have been known to misbehave on occasion. So when seven young men in the sixteen-to-nineteen years of age range come to see a movie sans girlfriends, even though it's a movie about hockey so it's very possible that the girlfriends begged off, I am going to be on a higher state of alert for my safety than I would be around a group of seven high school girls sans boyfriends at a chick flick.

Don't get me wrong. I love men. But the sad fact of our society is that some men are not gentlemen. Some are even robbers and rapists. And some robbers and rapists are seventeen years old.

So, had Sunday night's group of "children" been female, or even included any females, I would have waited in the lobby providing free baby-sitting services just as I did on Saturday night. But because I was alone, in a large, unlit building at midnight, surrounded by businesses that had closed hours earlier (if they had even opened on Sunday) I breathed a huge sigh of relief when the lobby doors locked behind seven teenaged males who were the last patrons to leave, and I got the hell out of there.

Maybe next time I'll put quotation marks on "children"....

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April 04, 2004

Next time I may just call for pizza

Spring Break is indeed upon us, as evinced by the eight children, ranging in age from 5 to 12, who wreaked havoc in my lobby from 11:15 until after midnight last night while waiting for a ride home. Even though it was past time for me to leave, I let them wait inside because it was snowing and most of them didn't have coats.

Rather than repeat my diatribe against irresponsible parents, maybe I should just change the name of the theater to Dollar Babysitting...

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April 03, 2004

A Moment of Silence

Rescue operations have been completed, and the site has been restored to an eerie duplication of the original. Those unaware of the incident remain in ignorance of the surprisingly small death toll. Those who participated in the triage will be forever changed.

A listing of the lost:

1 Sqwigglies
1 Whoppers
2 Raisinettes
1 Goobers
2 Kit Kat Bites
1 Mike 'n Ike Original Fruits
4 Kit Kat Big Kat Bars

There was, tragically, a high proportion of chocolate-related casualties which cannot be explained by shelf position alone, and conspiracy theories have already started to arise. One rescue worker was even overheard to complain bitterly that there were no Sour Patch Kids among the victims...

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March 14, 2004

More Movie Magic (?)

Well, with the assistance of my brother (actually, I described the problem and went to work and when I came home it was all better), my crappy digital camera was finally persuaded to upload the photos I took of some film cans at work. These two are actually the best of the lot.

Here is a movie waiting in the lobby for pick up:

cans.jpg

And here is a picture of empty cans and reels (because the film has been made up and is on a platter for exhibition):

open cans.jpg

That little white blur near the bottom of the cans is a papermate pen I added for scale. And, in the background you can just make out the gray box that one studio uses to ship its films.

If you're very good, I may take pictures of a broken seat or the ice machine...

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March 09, 2004

Popcorn warmer conversation

If we had a water cooler, here's how the conversation would go:

Clerk: What is it with today? All the customers are so bitchy!
Susie: There must have been a memo.
Cashier: Yeah--it came in their Welfare check.

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March 01, 2004

Next Questioner--Step closer to the mike, please!

Taking a page from Harvey's book, Christine launches the next barrage of questions:

This is probably a silly question, but is the screen made of anything special?
Or is simply a big nylon canvas?
As far as I can tell, it's just a big canvas. But remember, we're talking about the Dollar Movies here--I'm probably lucky it's not a bed sheet...

Oh yeah, why are the theatres so FRICKIN COLD ALL THE TIME? I know lots of bodies equal lots of heat generated but DANG, I could store meat in there! It probably is the body heat thing, because you seldom know if you're cooling for two or two hundred ahead of time, but if you're at MY theater it's because we have two settings--on, and off.

Does the audio come on different tapes or is it just encoded on the film itself? I've heard that at the fancy schmancy theaters the audio comes on a CD, but the sound strip embedded in the film is good enough for us, by golly!

Do you think they'll ever switch over to a digital format? Someday I'm sure it will happen, but Hollywood is very slow to embrace change, and retrofitting theaters with the new equipment will be very expensive, so it may be awhile.

DO PIXAR movies and others that are completely CGI come on traditional film or do they come in giant DVDs? If a movie isn't on 35mm film, I can't show it, so while there may be theaters somewhere have have giant DVD players (weren't those called laser disc?), we got Finding Nemo on reels of film that had to be made up like all the other movies.

Have you ever had problems with gelatinous black sludge creeping into your theater and, oh wait that was just make believe, forget it! Now that you mention it, there is a sort of orange-ish mold growing on some of the walls...

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February 29, 2004

Susie answers--more dark mysteries revealed....

Like an eight year old full of inquiry, Harvey peppered me with questions:

How, exactly, do you splice movies together? Scotch tape? Elmer's glue? Fancy little plastic sleeves? Elfin magic?

and

When you carry the film upstairs, do you have to make several trips to get all the reels up, or do you just go "HRRMMMPHHH!" and tote all six at once?
Do they still uses steel cans, or have they switched to plastic?

It's funny how we assume that everyone has grown up with the same grounding that we have. I used to watch my dad splice together the 8mm home movies when they broke, so learning to splice 35mm film was a snap for me, since it's the exact same process, only bigger. And what we use is very similar to scotch tape, only stronger--more like heavy duty package sealing tape in little one inch wide rolls. To make up for the lack of elfin magic, there's a really cool toy called, oddly enough, the splicer. We use a guillotine splicer, which looks like this:

splicer1.gif

The two pieces of film that need to be joined are lined up on the bed, a piece of tape unrolled across them, then the handle closes the device and the razor blade cuts the tape. There are also little nubs that poke sprocket holes through the tape at the same time. The splicer is opened, the film turned over, and the process repeated on the other side. We usually use yellow tape--that way we can see where the splice between reels is for when the film is torn down. That little handle closest to you in the picture is a cutter, in case the edges of the film need trimming to make sure they match before they are spliced together, so there are two really sharp edges to be careful of. (And, no--nobody can tell the tape is yellow--you can see the color with the human eye, but going by on the screen one frame is just too quick to notice).


Different movie studios use different cans to transport film, and I think they are pretty heavy, but Ass. Man. carries them like he has a lunch box in each hand. Mostly they are metal, either orange or silver, and pretty dingged up from years of use, but one studio uses a cardboard box with a handle instead of metal cans to send their films.
If I can find my digital camera, I'll try and take a really bad, grainy picture of the ones we have sitting around....

Posted by Susie at 09:18 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

February 27, 2004

The dark mysteries of the projection booth revealed...

Fellow blogger and renowned pervert Harvey commented

Meanwhile, I would like to hear more about this "make up and tear down movies" activity. I'm not familiar with it. I'm one of those industry outsiders who envisions movies just magically appearing on the screen without any involvement from actual people

I thought I had explained this process before, but couldn't find anything in the "Theatrical Events" archives, so here goes:

While there is the technological capability to transmit digital movies to theaters via satellite, Hollywood has not yet embraced the new technology. So the movies you see at your local cineplex are delivered each week in "cans" that hold two to five twelve (or maybe 14) inch reels of 35mm film. The number of cans and reels depends on the length of the film, but a two hour movie is usually about 6 reels. In olden times, theaters used two projectors, and alternated between them to show a movie, the first projector showing reel one, then the next reel two (while the projectionist threaded reel three and rewound reel one) and so on. Nowadays, the platter system is used. Here's a picture of one I grabbed from Howstuffworks:

movie-projector-platterfull.jpg

Because the movie is all in one big reel, only one projector in needed, and because it feeds out of the platter from the center (through the "brain"), and back onto the next platter in order, no rewinding is need. But, since we get the movies shipped to us in two to four cans of two to five reels each, we have to "make up", or put those reels together so they make one big reel. For that, we use a make up table:

makeuptable.jpg

The individual reels are put on the table and it threads them onto the platter. We have to splice the ends of the reels together, and if we don't match up the ends exactly, the picture will jump out of frame from one reel to the next, and you'll see a line across the screen until somebody runs upstairs to fiddle with the frame button.

Once a movie has finished its run, we "tear down" the movie using the reverse process from making it up, and the individual reels go back into their cans to be picked up and returned to the movie distributor. This is a process we have to go through on pretty much a weekly basis. Last night for example, Ass. Man. made up two movies that start today, and tore down one that's ended its run.

Any questions?

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January 26, 2004

The return of the men's room demon or, no human would stack books like this....

One of the urinals in the west men's restroom started spraying water everywhere Sunday afternoon. Of course, it had to happen at the point of highest activity for the day...the two concessions clerks were cleaning the two theaters between shows, I was covering concessions for the incoming patrons, and both movies needed to be threaded. This is, of course, when people started reporting the new shower facilities...By the time the fourth person brought it to my attention I was a little less than patient in my response. Yes, I am aware there is a problem...no, I cannot turn off the water without shutting it down to the entire theater and forcing us to close the theater...an 'out of order' sign is the best I can do until all these people get their popcorn and I thread and start the next two shows...All right, I will come look at it with you since you insist, but you are just delaying my attempts to find a plumber who will come out on Sunday...

The only plumber who returned my call to their "emergency 24 hour response" line wanted $139 trip charge plus parts and labor, and he wouldn't bill the home office.
Um.... no. My petty cash maximum is $25--don't think that'll cover it...

Hark! What's that? Could it be the hoof beats of my knight in shining armor to the rescue? Hurray!

One of my three cashiers has found a better-paying job (not a difficult task--the better-paying part, anyway) and so I hired the first person to fill out an application and he started training yesterday afternoon. I had scheduled him noon to three, just to get his feet wet (little expecting it would turn out to be literally). Even though he is a grown-up, the kids all seem to like him, and they all vied to tell him the best "stupid customer" and theater disaster stories. Of course, Fred came up ("Fred" is what the kids call our resident ghost).

At about two-ish my head cashier called to say that her younger child was in the hospital with pneumonia, and she would not make it in for her night shift. The cashier on duty offered to pull a double and stay 'til close, which I gratefully accepted--only she deserved at least an hour break. Since the new guy was doing great, we figured he could cover the box for the time she was gone (since it would be between shows anyway) and so he called his wife to let her know he would be staying late (I really like this man!) and off went the cashier....

Only people started showing up early for the next two shows, so he was selling tickets and I was selling concessions while the clerks were cleaning the theaters when Fred, awakened by talk of his doings, decided that he had been neglecting his ghostly mischief and needed to liven things up a bit by turning the west men's restroom into a water park.

To make a long story short (too late!) the new guy was able to determine that the leak could be fixed by tightening a thingie that had come loose. Of course, we didn't have the proper tools to do this, and as it was by now after 5, the hardware store was closed. Wait! One of the clerk's dads used to be a plumber! He has a pipe wrench! Yay! Her mom brought the wrench, the new guy tightened the thingie, and Fred's dastardly deed has joined the theater's ghost lore.

At 7, the blizzard started....

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January 04, 2004

Almost to salvation...

School starts again tomorrow...yay! We ran out of bottled water to sell on Friday, and Pepsi syrup yesterday. We only have about half of our usual candy selection left. We still have popcorn, but the kettle keeps falling apart so we've been behind on popping for three days....
Tomorrow I am expecting a plumber, a popper repairman, an emergency candy delivery, an emergency Pepsi delivery (which I expected on FRIDAY but never materialized...they're going to find a nasty message on their voice mail tomorrow morning!) and an emergency bathroom soap and paper towel delivery. I think there's one more, but I can't remember what it is....

I negelected to mention that the owner showed up unexpectedly Friday afternoon while we were swamped...it took me this long to get over the trauma! He wants me to hire someone to paint the bathrooms and wash the plate glass windows every week, but to skip the electrician for the ladies' room light fixture that's out. I still haven't gotten the new popper doors he told me to....

It's very difficult operating a business which runs when the rest of the world is closed...

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January 02, 2004

Ode to crumbling infrastructure

There was something I was going to post about before I head into work, but danged if I can recall what it was....

So, instead I will make a list of things I need to to when I get into work today.

#1 call a plumber. One of the sinks in the west men's rest room is clogged, and the faucet in the sink in the janitor's closet won't turn off anymore. It's like a steam room in there, and all our stored paper products are damp....

#2 call an electrician. I almost lost Ass. Man. when he tried to change the bulbs in the over-head sink fixture in the east women's rest room and got a severe shock.

#3 call our supplier to arrange for the return of two boxes of stale candy we received. Interestingly, one of them is the exact same box I returned as stale in October--Ass. Man.'s handwritten "received" date is right on the box in red sharpie...I suspect I will point this out to someone while I have them on the phone...

There are a few more items on my to-do list on my desk, but I can't recall them at the moment. New Year. Same Problems. (That's not a complaint!!!!! I like having the same problems over and over! I really do!!!!)

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December 20, 2003

I think I'll go eat some worms

is what I felt like when I got home from work last night--no email, no comments, and a fresh new disaster at the theater! (I didn't wish for it, honest!). I was too stressed out to post, so I saved that lovely title for today.

Before I launch into the story of Friday Night Hell at the Movies, I want to point out a couple of new entries over at the New Blog Showcase...

First, another blogger weighs in on John Rhys-Davies with Someone in Hollywood is FOR Western Civilization? It makes a great companion read to Justin's The Politics of The Lord of the Rings.

I also got a chuckle out of Spam of the Week...

Anyway, business was pretty slow last night, either due to Christmas shopping or the fact it was spitting snow, making the roads slippery. Which, it turned out, was a good thing, since that meant we only had 81 angry customers when we lost the sound in the small theater...

This time, the malfunction was the work of a human agent, not a supernatural one--yes, my lovely and talented Assistant Manager BROKE THE FREAKING EXCITER LAMP. The exciter lamp is a little light bulb that enables the projecter to read the sound strip on 35mm film.

Why is it that men (yes, I'm generalizing, get over it!) seem to think that brute force is the universal answer to mechanical malfunction? Especially when there was no mechanical malfuntion until they got involved? To wit: most movie projectors are "programmed" by the use of "cue tape" (little strips of sticky-backed aluminium-like tape that are attached to the film and trip various functions of a projection system, such as turning on the lights in the theater at the end of a movie). Cue tape can turn on the lights halfway, and later turn them on the rest of the way. Needless to say, cue tape does not work properly on our projectors, relicts of the early seventies when reel switch-overs were done manually, and since jerry-rigged to work with the more modern platter system.

So, as the five o'clock show was ending, my Ass. Manager noticed that there was no sound over the end credits. He rushed upstairs, not realizing that there was cue tape he had failed to remove when he made up* the movie (and one of the things cue tape can do is turn the sound off on a film) and started poking and prodding and wiggling projector parts, and broke off the exciter lamp. No exciter lamp, no sound. No sound, no movie. Did he tell me? No. Not until we had been selling tickets for half an hour. So, five minutes before show time, we are tearing the projection booth apart looking for a spare exciter lamp. No dice. I call our Projector Technician. All theaters keep a spare exciter lamp, he says. Look more. We look more. None to be found. I call the owner. ALL THEATERS HAVE A SPARE EXCITER LAMP, he says. LOOK MORE. Auugghhhhhh!!!! We don't have a spare freakin exciter lamp!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Show cancelled. Nine o'clock show cancelled. The owner finds a spare bulb at one of his other theaters. Ass. Manager must drive to Ohio early this morning to pick it up (serves him right, too! Sassafrassenrassen...).

In a little while I will call the theater and find out if the new lamp fits. If it doesn't, we're out one whole theater (of two!!!) until Monday at least. Oh, joy.

*movies still arrive at the theater on 5 to 10 reels (depending on the length of the film), which are spliced together to make one big reel for exhibiting, and then taken apart again for shipping back to the studios.

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December 17, 2003

Saturday Morning Musings

Another day of nothing to blog about--well, plenty of things to talk about, but nothing of interest to anyone other than myself. However (whine alert!!!), judging by the comments (read comments, lack of, page 42, paragraph 3, of the Blogger's Emergency Manual) I'm the only one who reads this anyway, so what the heck...

I'm going to be an aunt again!!! Yay!!!! I had been firmly convinced that my next opportunity to shop for adorable little newborn gowns and cute stuffed plush elephant rattles was going to be when the honorific of "Great Aunt Susie" was bestowed upon me by one of my (hopefully already post-high school) nieces or nephew. Imagine my surprise and delight to discover yesterday that one of my sisters has decided she's tired of waiting for said nieces (or nephew) to provide the requisite baby-shopping excuse and take care of it herself. Yay! I forsee a Discovery Toys© Party in the future...

Scrooge The owner of the theater has decided that the last show on Christmas Eve will start at 3pm, and the first show on Christmas Day will start at 7pm. "Yay!" again! Of course, since I won't get another day off until sometime next year because school is out until after New Year's, I'll probably crawl back under the covers after I have checked out Santa's offerings on Christmas morning and sleep until I have to go to work on the first day of Christmas.

Now the toilet in the other men's rest room is possessed! Last night (after "normal" business hours, of course) it decided to go into permanent flush mode. The employees had fun dropping things into it and watching them disappear. I put a stop to it when they got to wadded-up paper-towel balls the size of a snowglobe--we have enough plumbing problems without blocking up the sewer....I left my Assistant a note to call a plumber (Muh ha ha ha !)

As Pixy Misa said about the most recent oil shortage, this was a "repeat". Lately all my work disasters seem to be replays of prior disasters (we had two brain-wraps in three days' time last week, the first in months) which is why I haven't blogged about them. But there's a sort of Catch-22 here--as tedious as it is to keep having to deal with the same problems over and over, it would be foolhardy to wish for new and more exciting disasters just for blogfodder.

I have to finish up my Christmas shopping today (or tomorrow) since these are my last two days off until Christmas. It'll be a race to see which gives out first--my back or my checking account!

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December 09, 2003

If only....

I had a really horrible day at work today. I call do-over.

Posted by Susie at 01:29 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

November 21, 2003

Oh frabulous day!

The work week begins....oh, joy.

When I took the new cash register in yesterday I learned that the owner forgot to order us oil. My assistant was on top of things, though--he had already called the local supplier and ordered some. Unfortunately, the oil available locally is mostly coconut, so #1 it's higher in fat that the "lite" oil we usually use, and #2 it has a consistancy closer to shortening than oil at room temperature, so we're going to have to break out the hairdryer to unclog the lines on a regular basis.

It's gonna be a fun weekend! Not!

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November 16, 2003

I think I can be forgiven for hating my job

Of course, every disaster seems to happen on a Saturday, but that's probably just because problems seem magnified by the amount of business affected.

I mean, of course, that if one of the projectors had chosen to die on a Tuesday, we probably would've only lost 20 or 30 customers. But no--the projector for screen two picks a rainy Saturday afternoon to decided not to turn on its projector lamp. Picture a hundred people sitting in the dark listening to dialog--kind of the reverse of the old silent movies. Sigh. Either God really does hate me, or I'm being punished for thinking my work is too repetitive (which I had just been thinking shortly before The Incident).

After much stress, frustration, long distance phone consultations and apologetic refunds, and the cancellation of two shows, a technician was finally obtained to repair the problem. It was at this point one of the cash registers died. The last time we lost a cash register it took three or four weeks for the home office to get us a new one. Picture Thanksgiving weekend with only one concessions line. Someone kill me now.

Posted by Susie at 09:36 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 09, 2003

Full Moon and Non-Sense

Today's my long day, so of course all kinds of exciting things will happen in the blogosphere while I am stuck in the Technology Free Zone™.

Last night was a typical Saturday night--stupid people buying tickets in plenty of time for the 7pm show, but then wandering off somewhere and not coming back til showtime, thus demanding a refund because they couldn't find nine seats together....Hello! We're not Madison Square Garden here! There is no assigned seating! Use some brain cells folks!!!!
We also had our obligatory mid-rush breakdown. It was a new one this time--while changing the syrup for the Pepsi one of the clerks accidently broke the dispenser attachment off the hose. Much merriment ensued.

I did get to see some of the eclipse last night. As soon as I saw that full moon, I knew we were in for it....

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October 15, 2003

What is wrong with people?

It seems like I have to ask that question more times every day. Today it's in response to a post of Jim's that I found at Jennifer's. Last night it was in regard to an incident at work where I had to call the police because of an altercation between two patrons in the lobby.
No, altercation is too harsh a word. Here's how it went:

One of the local institutions for the mentally handicapped brought a small group of their disabled residents to see a movie. This is actually a fairly common occurance; there are a number of group homes, halfway houses, homes for "troubled youth" etc. that make the dollar movies their destination of choice for "outings". Ordinarily there's no trouble. Last night, however, one of the group snatched a pager off the blouse of a woman who was there with her children to see a movie (for some reason she had her pager clipped to the front of her blouse). One of the attendants took the offender out to their van since this misbehavior cost him his movie-going privileges. But is this the end of it? No. The woman wanted her money back since she was now too traumatized to watch a movie.

Here's the thing. Once you've purchased your tickets, they're YOUR tickets, especially once they've been ripped in half when you enter the lobby. If you suddenly decide, for whatever reason, not to see that movie, you're SOL. However, because sometimes problems do arise (for example, Grandma being conned into taking the kiddies to a PG-13 movie, which she realizes after a few minutes is not appropriate for 10 years olds) I have movie passes which I can distribute at my discretion. So when the woman demanded a refund, I gave the cashier five movie passes to give her. (Aside: why does everthing happen at show time? I have a movie to thread and start, and that's when people call to speak to me, or inform me their little darling has just puked all over the restroom, or an irate customer wants their money back because although the cashier TOLD them before they bought their tickets that the theater was very full and they probably wouldn't find seats together, they couldn't find seats together...).

Movie passes were not acceptable. The woman wanted her five dollars back. I explained to her that torn tickets are not refundable for cash. We cannot re-use them. She told me she was so upset by what had occurred that she would never be returning, therefore the passes were useless to her. Now, I don't know her--it's possible that she has a long-buried childhood trauma that makes her terrified of the mentally disabled, and the extremely remote chance that she might encounter another one of these groups on an outing has her paralyzed in fear. However, she discarded her ace of trump with that remark, because, since her future business is not now an issue, I have no business motivation to appease her (if I could, short of actual cash back). So I apologized, took the passes she returned to me, and went back to work.

Enter the boyfriend. He wants her money back, too. He explains how her poor children had to see their mother "attacked" in our lobby. He asks how I would feel if the same thing had happened to me when I was with my children. I do not say "Well, it seems to me that making this big of an issue of it is going to scar the children far worse than shrugging it off and explaining that the poor man didn't know any better," which is what I was thinking. So he says that if I don't give them her money back he is going to call the police and press charges. Fine, I'll call the police for you.

Which I did. The desk sergeant made me repeat what had happened three times; I think he was as incredulous as I that someone wanted to press charges against a mentally handicapped person for grabbing a pager off of someone's blouse. Meanwhile, the counselor who was not sitting in the van with the "perp" called her supervisor, who sent over the institution's security guards and a head honcho.

When the first patrol car arrived, the woman ran over to the officer to tell him what happen before he could even get out of his car. I don't know what she said, but I heard his reply: "Ma'am, I can't make them give you your money back."

The woman, two officers and the head honcho eventually had a huddle in the lobby. My cashier told me later that the head honcho gave the woman five dollars. I assume from this that charges were not pressed against the mentally handicapped man, who was taken away in another van by the institution's security guards.

I feel very badly about involving the police in something so petty (especially since one of the officers had been listening to the Cubs game when he got the call), but what other choice did I have once the boyfriend said he wanted to press charges?

The kids--I mean, my employees--later said it was the best entertainment they'd had all week. I was wishing for a six pack of Michelob tucked into the ice making machine when it was over ...


(Note to jim long: although this is based on a true story, names and certain details have been withheld to protect the parties involved; it is unlikely there will be a newspaper account of it, and probably no police report either. If this makes you doubt my veracity, keep your opinions to yourself. Thank you).

UPDATE: I removed the quotes from jim long's name since I have apparently misjudged him by my implication that that is not his real name. I apologize for any inconvenience.

Posted by Susie at 12:12 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

October 07, 2003

Typical...

Our concessions sign fell down today. Luckily, no one was injured, but the rest of the night we had to tell customers that the prices were on the sign that was laying on the counter over there, and we're sorry but some of the letters fell off...

Posted by Susie at 12:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 17, 2003

Workplace Woes

I am not very alert today--sleep deprivation no doubt has a lot to do with it. It's not easy to operate in a world that runs on an entirely different schedule than one's own. For example, I get off work at midnight. I have been asked why I don't go to bed until 4am. I have responded with the question, "You get off work at 5pm--do you go to bed at 5:30?".
The problem with going to bed at 4 am is that sometimes it takes until 4:30 or 5am to fall asleep. And then at 9:30am when one gets a phone call that one must go to work at 10 am to unlock the doors for various and sundry parties who wish access to said workplace, one is screwed in the sleep department. Even massive infusions of caffiene cannot counter the fog that one operates in the rest of the day.
This is why I have an enormous burn on my left arm. It looks like a dueling scar. Here is a picture of the injury-causing device in happier times:

Injury-causing device in happier times

It looks so innocent, doesn't it? Well, after a half a dozen batches of popcorn it's hot as bejeezes...and when a semi-comotose person is hurridly transferring popped corn to the glass-fronted warmer from which the corn is served, it's fairly easy to vere slightly off course with the required scooping motion and glance off the popper's surface with nearby body parts.

The resulting large reddened area has contracted to a narrow line this morning. If it leaves a scar I will tell people that I got it in a knife fight. That sounds so much more interesting than the story I just related...


Posted by Susie at 12:18 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 08, 2003

Rejection and Hyperbole

I struck out with the plumber. Bummer. I suspect I am not at my flirtatious best after only 6 hours of sleep and only 2 cups of coffee. Or maybe this is why:

My inner child is six years old today

My inner child is six years old!


Look what I can do! I can walk, I can run, I can
read! I like to do stuff, and there's a whole
big world out there to do it in. Just so long
as I can take my blankie and my Mommy and my
three best friends with me, of course.


How Old is Your Inner Child?
brought to you by Quizilla

(Thanks to Pixy and Cherry)

Anyway, there are about a gazillion emails I need to answer, so if you wrote me one, I read it, I'm just too tired to reply...

However, since I 'm here and sleep-typing, I may as well say, That's fine Heather; You're welcome Mr. Green; Thanks NZ Bear; it's almost on its way, Kevin; Thanks Matt; Welcome to Munivia Daniel and I like Pizzazz! with 4 "z"s; only Sundays Jen; and Bob, it's a commercial commode circa 1970...the kind with the handle you can flush with your foot. It needed a whole new metal thingee. If I missed somebody, I'll be answering my email tomorrow....

Posted by Susie at 12:37 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 07, 2003

Sweet Dreams....

Well, today is my 13 hour day, and I have to go in an hour early so the plumber can come back and finish fixing another leaky toilet. I noticed it creating a lovely pond in the east ladies' restroom around 8pm, and since I couldn't get ahold of our usual plumber I called Roto Rooter.

Be still my heart!!! Had I known plumbers could look like Shaun does, I would have been calling about every minor drip in the place! We're talking drop-dead gorgeous with nice hands, broad shoulders, and a George Clooney glint in his eyes....and I never even got a chance to flirt a little, because I had a projector to thread and a crisis in the ticket booth... but--he didn't have the right part to repair it, so he's coming back in the morning....

I need to get my beauty sleep!

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September 01, 2003

New math

Well, after the 24+ hours of torrential rain we have had, the leaking roof on one of the theaters decided it had had enough, and began to shed ceiling tiles in protest. Most of the worst of it was over the aisles, but there is one bad spot near the front center of the theater where you can see that the area of fallout is spreading, and more could come down at any time...

So, before every showing in that theater, I had to shoo patrons out of the danger zone. (Surprisingly, many of them did not even notice that the seats they were sitting in were a little... damp). So upstairs I go to start the movie; I look out the window and lo! more people have come in and seated themselves in the avalanche area. Down the stairs...please move...up the stairs...more potential victims...down the stairs...rinse... repeat...

My legs hurt today. Must be all the rain....

Posted by Susie at 07:25 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

A little whine before bedtime...

I love my job she said sarcasticly as she arrived home from a 13-and-a-half hour day...

11 shows.
Up and down the stairs 11 times to thread...
Up and down 11 times to turn on the house lights...
5 times up and down because one of the movies has a bad splice in the last reel and jumps out of frame...
2 times up and down to adjust the sound for a little old lady who came out to complain that the movie was too loud--twice... (and then she left after the first hour...)
5 or 6 times up and down for interruptions in mid-threading, like getting change for one of the clerks who ran out of quarters, or when two rambunctious boys knocked down the masking across the bottom of the screen in one of the theaters and it took three of us to lift the dang frame to try and put it back up...
(it fell off again immediately, and we had to lean it against the wall underneath the screen, so the rest of the day's movie-goers got to see what the bottom of a huge stretched canvas looks like without a nice black felt covered panel to hide all the eyelets and cords....)...

2 flights times 11, times 2, plus twice 5 and 2 and 6... equals too freaking many stairs....

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August 24, 2003

Rant

I like people. It's customers I can't stand.
Well, not all customers. There is the occasionally decent human being who realizes that customer service industry personel a) might actually have feelings and b) aren't doing this job solely because they have an I.Q. in the lower double digits and are hence unfit for "real" work, like telemarketing or ditch-digging. But it seems like those people get fewer and fewer all the time.

And some (again, it seems like more all the time) not only have no respect for other people's property, they actually think that taking anything that's not nailed down is acceptable behavior (apparently that $1 they paid for admission entitles them to "all you can grab"). People have stolen our salt shakers. One week we "lost" a record five. Several times when our restroom soap dispensers had run dry (due to supply order problems ) or been broken by vandals and we bought pump hand soap from the store to tide us over, those were stolen. But last night was the capper...someone stole the rope we use to block off the larger theater when we clean it. A rope! Unfreakingbelievable.....

I blame our school system, where teaching "morals" is equated with teaching religion....so, for everyone who has attended a public school in the last twenty years: Stealing is Bad.

Posted by Susie at 02:35 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

June 26, 2003

Just Your Average Workday: The Sequel

I am so tired again today I wanted to go straight to bed when I got home, but I remembered my committment to blog and therefore will relate that no blood was spilled at work today! Hurray! Also, after three hours of fruitless phone calls I finally located an exorcist--I mean, a plumber--to fix the possessed men's room toilet that had been in continuous flush mode for about 20 hours. His name was Ben, he was kind of cute, and it only took him about 5 minutes to mutter the proper incantations.....

It's not actually reading Harry Potter that has me using all these occult metaphors...

You see, I took my digital camera to work yesterday, and took a few pictures. The ones from the projection booth are very interesting! I wish I knew how to do thumbnails (Pixy! any tips?) but since I don't, here are two pictures I took a few minutes apart :

projector.jpg

theater ghost.jpg


That stringy bright stuff was not there when I took the picture!

Logically I figure that the flash was bouncing off of something (since I was at a slightly different angle than for the prior shot) but if you look carefully you can almost see a face.....

Posted by Susie at 07:35 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Just Your Average Workday.....

I hope CSI doesn't decide to stop by the theater and do luminol tests in the east men's restroom (as opposed to the west men's restroom, where the haunted toilet resides). We cleaned up all the blood splatters, but I've heard that stuff can still detect hemoglobin years later.
One of my concession clerks was sitting under the counter reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix between shows when a customer came up for a free refill. Being one of my most conscientious employees, he leaped up to assist her---and whacked his head on a sharp corner. I've always heard that scalp wounds bleed profusely, and I can now testify to that. I can't help but wonder if we can get a lawsuit going against J.K. Rowling ... I hear she has squillions...

Anyway, Tiger was whining, er, complaining, um, mentioned in my comments that I didn't blog much on my two-month anniversary. Tiger, dearest Tiger, I would much rather have been blogging yesterday than wrapping ice chips in a paper towel for my clumsy clerk's boo boo and checking that his eyes were dilating properly with the handy dandy flashlight every theater keeps at the ready for seeking out disruptive patrons and lost car keys. I certainly would rather have been blogging than listening to the haunted toilet (I really think Moaning Myrtle inhabits that restroom) running all night since it waited until after 4 o'clock to go haywire and I cannot call a plumber until I go in today. I definitely would rather have been blogging than spending the afternoon trying to find out why our supply order wasn't delivered, and eventually learning that due to a "keying mistake" we wouldn't be getting it at all this week.

And, for some reason, I was so tired when I got home last night I dropped straight into bed without even checking my email.

Since I get off work at 6 tonight instead of 11, I will attempt to satisfy your flattering jones for my wit and wisdom with more pearls then.


Posted by Susie at 09:48 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 08, 2003

Just your typical Saturday night.....

I don't know why I am blogging when I should be sleeping---has anyone told the Surgeon General about this blogging phenomenon?
It could be a health hazard or something.....

Anyway, second day of hell down, 8 to go. As they seem to be getting more hellish, I am not sure I'm going to survive. Tonight, for example, a trainee spilled pop on one of our (two) cash registers and killed it. Dead. Well, first it rang up a lot of merchandise when no one had pushed any buttons, and then it began this banshee-like "error" tone that rivaled the tornado alert sirens, and nothing would make it stop--I even turned it "off" and it kept wailing. So finally we unplugged it. And turned it on its side to let the pop drain out of it. And later when we plugged it back it in, it didn't screech---because all the programming was gone. So one cash register was brain dead on a Saturday night just before the highly popular 7pm shows---things just couldn't be any worse could they?

Yeah, right. Ever tried to manage a movie theater on a Saturday night with only one concession register open and one of your employees stuck on the roof?

Didn't think so.

See, there was this little girl who threw her shoe up on the roof of the theater. Or somebody else threw the shoe--I never did get that part straight. All I know is I had just come down stairs from threading the 7 and 7:15 movies with what I hoped was a workable plan to have the more experienced concession person and the back up person alternate ringing up customers on the one working register while the trainee got the popcorn and sodas (and was to keep them FAR from the working register), when the cashier breezed past me saying that she and Matt (the more experienced concession person) were going to get a little girl's shoe off the roof and would be right back. Since the projection booth has a trap door to the roof, that seemed to make sense to me at the time, so I went to cover the ticket booth for a minute. Five minutes. Ten minutes. I was selling tickets like crazy. The concession line was backed out the door and starting to be indistinguishable from the ticket line. Where was my cashier?

Then I heard her voice. She was talking to the trainee, trying to explain to him where we keep the ladder. I called her over.

Apparently our roof has two levels, and the little girl's shoe was on the lower one. Matt jumped down to it, tossed the little girl her shoe, and then couldn't get back up the seven foot wall to the level where the trap door is. So the cashier wanted the trainee to take our ladder upstairs, up a ladder to the trap door, through to the roof, and lower the ladder to the lower roof so Matt could climb up....while we had customers lined up to the street. Nope. No way, Jose.

I sent the cashier back to the concession stand to help the back-up person and the trainee wait on the customers as quickly as possible while I kept selling tickets. I couldn't even spare anyone to tell Matt what was going on. The poor guy spent 45 minutes stuck on the roof of the theater! When the crowd finally started thinning, the cashier and the trainee went to get the ladder, and a customer came up to the concessions and said "Did you know there's a guy on your roof?"

I can't wait to see what tomorrow has in store for me....

Posted by Susie at 01:08 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack