I've decided to start a campaign to have Fridays banned. It seems like all of the most horrible work days happen on Friday. It's bad enough that Friday is inventory day, and that because it's the start of the new work week ("new" movies always start on Friday) there are always a gazillion little details that need to be handled before we start selling tickets, but for the last two consecutive Fridays I've had movies brain-wrap bad enough to have to send the customers home with passes and spend a couple of hours draped in tangles of 35mm film. It's enough to make a grown woman want to sit in the corner and cry...
*Thank Goodnes It's Saturday
Work has been one problem after another these last few days. Nothing major has gone wrong, but it seems like once an hour something breaks or otherwise goes awry, and I have to play McGuyver or mediate or scramble to find an alternative. Yes, part of a Manager's job is trouble-shooting...but lately that's all I seem to do!
As an aside, did you know that First Aid tape can replace a missing nut on the connector piece of a cash drawer?
I had a long and crappy day at work, topped off by a pack of about twenty 13/14 year olds being dropped off for the 9:30 show. They were loud and obnoxious and I had to threaten to toss them out to get them to stop shooting spit balls across the aisles at each other.
Then, of course, after my twelve hour day, I had to wait until the caravan of SUVs and mini-vans eventually rolled up in front of the theater to collect them in groups of two and three. The movie was over at 11. The last credit was done by 11:07. I just got home.
I don't know which I hate more--my job, or those kids' parents....
The other day a customer asked for his money back because he hadn't realized that "Failure to Launch" was a chick-flick.
If anyone is at fault here, it's the studio for giving a Romantic Comedy a title that sounds like a Harrison Ford Thriller. We don't make the movies, we just show 'em.
Now, what's that saying again about people who assume....?
I hate people.
I would have a great job if it weren't for the f***ing customers.
I'm actually having a beer when I have to open tomorrow, because I am so disturbed by an encounter I had with a customer, five minutes before I was supposed to get off work. Actually, it was with a customer's father. This man's precious darling (who he dropped off in front of the theater and came to pick up two hours later, because she is not old enough to drive) was with several other teen-aged girls who, after having been warned that they were disturbing other customers, were kicked out of the movie when they continued their disruptive behavior.
The father was irate that we took the word of another patron over that of his precious daughter.
Hmmm....a pack of feral teen-aged girls vs. a mom with her six-year-old...obviously the teenagers were the victims here!
It frosts my Cheerios when parents expect the theater to do their parenting for them. Yes, he apparently expected me to sit with that group of girls to watch the movie, to make sure that they behaved with proper decorum when away from parental constraints.
Mister, let me tell you something that I wish now I had said to your face: I once was a teen-aged girl, and you're darn right I'll take the word of an adult over theirs as to what constitutes polite behavior in public!
Guess it's time that the Dollar Movies invested in infrared security cameras and directional microphones so the miscreants can be caught on tape...
UPDATE: Sorry, folks--for some reason this post has attracted a record amount of comment spam, and I'm tired of deleting it, so I'm closing the comments...
I had a rough day yesterday at work.
No, nothing broke--except my spirit. My assistant manager informed me that she had gotten a job at a first-run movie theater and that she starts this Thursday. I knew she was interviewing for it, and I figured they'd hire her, because she is terific, but the official word just went "splat" on my head when she told me. I had just been working on the upcoming week's schedule, and discovered that five of my eight employees had asked off for Saturday. Since I need a minimum of 5 employees--assuming one of them could work a double--I was already facing the prospect of threats and tears and resignations when I post the schedule.* Running a Saturday, even when it's slow, without an Assistant to split the hours, not to mention the "rush" tasks of threading and starting movies, handling customer problems, getting change from the safe (why DO people try to pay for a dollar ticket with a $50 bill? That one still eludes me), and making sure the clerks are actually working and not having rubber band fights, is sure to bring on a nervous breakdown.
If we get a decent movie that brings in more business, I'm screwed.
*Ok, theoretically I could do it with three, if all three were 18 years old and therefore not subject to child labor laws limiting their hours. They'd be zombies by 8pm, but it could be done. But this is a minimum-wage employer we're talking about here. Besides which, two of the three who didn't ask off have ball games--out of town!--Saturday morning, so they can't work until the evening anyway...
Something odd has been going on at work for weeks now, and there seem to be only three possible explanations, none of which make sense.
It's about switches. They're getting switched. Things that are supposed to be on have been turned off, and things that are supposed to be off have been turned on. Sometimes there are minor consequences, but occasionally, like yesterday, there are fairly major ones.
Yesterday I started the first show, and the movie had no sound. I checked everything--the breakers were on, the amplifier was plugged in, the sound reader was projecting light and the film was threaded correctly. I had to give everyone in the theater passes, cancel the rest of the shows in that theater, and call our projector technician. For once he was able to come within a few hours, and you know what? The amplifier was turned off.
Now ordinarily you would just dismiss this, as the owner did, as somebody having just flipped it off for whatever reason. The thing is, though, I closed the night before--was the one to turn off everything and lock up behind me--and I opened the next morning, and I did not touch that switch. Heck, I didn't even really know there was a switch! Whoever switched it had to have done it between midnight and noon, and must have had not only a key to the building but also a key to the projection booth. Either that, or our poltergeist did it, or I have a covert second personality that's messing with me.
The suspect list is small in this case, since only I and a few trusted employees have both those keys (the cleaner and several vendors have a building key, but not a booth key). So, unless I am suffering a split personality, or the theater's ghost has taken to playing with switches instead of plumbing, one of my trusted employees is not only untrustworthy, but something of a saboteur. That's pretty disturbing.
I think I really rather would prefer it to have been my evil twin...
Well, Spring Break is halfway over, thank God. It always seems like the busier we are, the more disasters happen. Yesterday, one of the cash registers decided it was tired of opening its drawer during the matinée rush on 50¢ Day, effectively killing half of our ability to wait on concessions customers. So I'm standing there with a screwdriver trying to force the drawer open so we can at least get the money out of it, and people proceed to give me their orders. I tell them, I'm sorry but this register is out of order and they'll have to go to the other one, and the people behind them try to give me their order. Hello!?! This register is broken!!!! Not that they care--I'm sure they expected us to just give them stuff without ringing it up and making them pay for it.
The longer I work in retail, the lower my opinion of the human race goes. It's probably not as bad a being a cop, but I bet it's close. Between the graffiti on the restroom stalls, the stolen movie posters and straw dispensers, the frustrating rudeness of customers (did I mention the man who threw his empty pop cup at the head of one of my concessions clerks when he found out that he was too late get a refill?) and the downright stupidity of the customers' questions ("What time does the 7:20 show start?") I am seriously considering embracing Misanthropism as my new religion. I'll find myself a nice cave somewhere (with internet access so I can order groceries) and live peacefully in the blissful knowledge I will never have to explain to another septuagenarian why we don't give Senior Discounts on 50¢ Day...
A broken platter on Friday, a broken popcorn kettle on Saturday--I wonder what joys are in store for me today?
I hate 12 hour work days--especially when I start them a mere 11 hours after I have left the night before. By the time we close, I am so tired I have to count the money three times (unless someone speaks to me, in which case I have to start over again from the beginning because I've lost my place.) Plus, I get cranky when I don't get my nap. Along with that, my back is bothering me, the temperature's been in the single digits (for the high!) and I won't know until tomorrow if the paycheck I deposited on Friday is going to go through.
Yesterday wasn't complete agony, though. My sister stopped by with baby Megan, who at 18 months is now running and saying understandable words (a feat that several of my employees have yet to master) and I said "screw it" for half an hour and played with my niece in the lobby. She got a huge kick out of the giant candy machine, and can say "M!" very clearly (I think she uses the singular because my sister will only give her one piece at a time).
The day's comic relief came in the form of a visit from the owner--he was doing the rounds of all his theaters in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio, and got lost on the way to mine. We had five phone calls from him, asking us to tell him where he was, and twice when I told him to go east, he called back and was going west. He finally found the outskirts of town and one of the clerks kept him on the phone and talked him in turn by turn. After his tour of the countryside he could only stay about 10 minutes, because he needed to get along to the next theater, so he only had about five things to criticize (although he did call me later and mention a couple more he must have thought of on the drive).
I got to watch the last two hours of King Kong last night, since the other two theaters had already emptied by that point. The giant animals were awesome, and totally realistic-looking. Not so much whenever they put a human in the frame, though. And what was with the blonde chick? She had like two facial expressions. I will try and see the first hour, though, despite there being some really stupid things (like when the kid who never fired a gun before manages to shoot the bugs off Adrien Brody with a machine gun, and doesn't even nick him!).
I hate Wednesdays. Not only is it 50¢ day, but the kids are out of schools and I have a group of interviews set up for today. To add icing, my assistant manager somehow broke her safe key off in the lock of the safe after close last night. Today's also the day I submit last week's payroll (payroll runs from Wednesday to Tuesday, and the business week runs from Friday to Thursday, just to keep everyone confused) and finalize and post next week's work schedule.
I should actually be going in early to start taking care of some of this, but since I idiotically scheduled myself for a 12 hour day today, screw it!
Here it is, the start of another work week, and the schools are out the next two weeks for "Winter Break"--oh, joy. We'll be running shows from noon to 10pm, which means we'll be working 11am to 12:30 am. Business has been crappy lately--I think because the economy is so good that 1) people can afford to go to the first-runs, and 2) everybody's shopping. With school out, business should pick up as parents seek low-cost day care. I just hope it picks up enough to compensate for the extra aggravation, headaches and vandalism that unsupervised teenagers create.
I need to get out of retail--it's ruining my Christmas Spirit!
Man, who dumped us into the freezer? It feels like February out there, not December. Some of the kids came into work last night without coats, and I told them I'd write them up if they did that again--it was freakin' 20 degrees!
Of course, we had the usual weekend disaster: the bulb in theater two's projector went out during the first show. This stuff never happens on a Tuesday. The DM might have a spare, he wasn't sure. Otherwise number 2 is down until Monday, and we will have to listen to unreasonable customers (oops! that's redundant!) complaining that we should have informed them that we were going to have unexpected mechanical difficulties. Hey, the Soothsayer is on vacation, ok?
Well, my 12 hour Saturday is just all a blur now. I think something happened that I meant to blog about, but with only eleven and a half hours between shifts I didn't get a chance to commit it to word processing, and now whatever it was is gone (probably to reappear in slightly altered form in future nightmares).
Sunday passed like an octogenarian in a Mercury Grand Marquis. I was so tired when I got home I was asleep before 10pm (and consequently up before said octogenarian this morning...). Now, Sunday's disaster is clearer in my memory. But it's a long story that requires a little background, so settle back and get comfy.
Regular readers probably recall that I have explained the platter system of movie exhibition previously. What I didn't mention is that on occasion (usually holidays) the powers-that-be will schedule showings for three films, rather than one or two, in one house. When there are two movies, the one that is being shown is fed back onto the third, empty platter. When you have three movies, you still need an empty platter, so two of the movies are scheduled consecutively and then "piggybacked" on one platter. So this week, being Thanksgiving weekend, we had three flicks scheduled for theater two, in the order A B C B C. Obviously B & C get piggybacked, right? Unfortunately, when my Assistant was "making up" the movies she just put a standard length leader* on the film, and I had some trouble with movie C the first time I showed it on Friday--I had to thread it well into the trailer, which wouldn't be a problem except that it makes framing more difficult (it's hard to get the film centered properly once you're past the header**).
Anyway, when my Assistant came into work on Friday I asked her to splice something--an old coke ad or other odd piece of film lying around--in front of the leader on movie C, to make it easier to piggyback. Instead, she decided to just take movie A off and put it on the floor until we needed it again. Now this worked out ok on Saturday (I had one of the boys do the heavy lifting for me). But on Sunday before we opened, as we were taking C off the platter so I could thread A for the first show, my clerk dropped movie C.
This was bad.
I'm struggling for an analogy here. Spaghetti? A bird's nest? a tangled necklace? It wasn't pretty. And the thing about a film that has been neatly wound is that it wants to stay wound--even if it's spread all over the floor. So to try and get it back into some kind of order so that it can be played is a bit of a challenge. Imagine your cassette player eating a tape, and trying to rewind the tape without the plastic case to contain it, only ten times as wide and a thousand times as long and nowhere near as pliable. Yep, it's ugly.
We ended up with the movie in three separate parts. The first part would be threaded up, and when it got near the end we'd stop the film, slap the second part on the platter and splice it to the first part, restart the movie and do it again when the second part was finished. I suppose it worked out ok, because I came home and let my Assistant and the clerk who dropped the film deal with it, and I didn't get any phone calls. Before I left I told the cashier to warn anyone who bought tickets to C that we would be stopping the movie to "fix a couple of bad splices." Hey, it was sort-of true.
Despite the drama, and the fact I got to leave before close, Sunday still seemed like the longest day of the year...
*The leader is clear film at the beginning that stretches to the movie ring on the platter.
** The header is the piece of film after the leader that has those countdown numbers you sometimes see at the beginning of a movie. When one threads a projector, one aligns the clear number frames with the aperture plate that the light passes through so that the picture is centered on the screen.
So, to recap, you've got the leader, the header, any trailers (which is an odd name for ads that appear in front of a movie) and then the movie itself.
One more thing to be thankful for today--we don't have any more school groups scheduled for the rest of the year!
It didn't actually go too badly yesterday, except that the CO2 ran out around Pepsi number ninety (of 209), and when one of the girls went to change it, the gauge mechanism wouldn't twist off. The other clerk tried. I tried. The two of them tried together. We even attempted to spray the darn thing with liquid wrench, but whoever had changed it last (no doubt one of the boys) had given that sucker one turn too many. Miraculously, there was a car in the lot with a lone man sitting in it, so I ran out out, tapped on his car window, and asked if he would use his manly upper body strength to help us. With one twist and no visible effort he had the connector loosened! (It turned out he was one of the teachers who had driven separately and arrived early, luckily for us.) We were still about a couple dozen drinks short when the busses began rolling up, but we managed to get everyone outfitted with a popcorn and a Pepsi by the time they had finished filing in.
It took us longer to clean the theater afterward than it had taken us to make the refreshments in the first place.
My next few work days are going to be nightmarish--I have 250 kids coming for a special show this morning, school's out tomorrow and Friday so the late shows are going to be swamped with unsupervised middle-schoolers trying to sneak into 40 Year Old Virgin, and both my assistants are going to be out of town on Saturday so I will be working noon to midnight.
I will either lose my mind or have lots of horror stories to tell. Tune in to see which it is...
One thing that really bugs me is when people steal. I don't understand how anyone can think it's acceptable to take something that belongs to someone else--even if that someone is your employer. Things have been going missing around the workplace--from the loose change we keep in the desk to the cleaners' boom box. Inventory has been short some candy every week for a couple of weeks now. The thing is, even though the stealing seems to have started only recently, we don't have any new employees. I've started counting the candy every night after we close, to see if I can narrow down the suspects, but so far it's been inconclusive.
I really wish we had cameras....
I had a horrible workday yesterday--and it was my day off. It started with a phone call from our local Pepsi distributor informing me that the theater had been put on C.O.D. status due to non-payment issues. I forget why they have my home number--I think it was from a time when I had to let in a repairman or something. Then I went to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and found a shut-off notice from the electric company shoved into the box office window. After Charlie, I decided to watch War of the Worlds, but when the people in the film started acting like Detroit after a Super Bowl win I decided it was time for a cigarette. That's when my Assistant Manager revealed that the closer had broken one of the glass walls on the popcorn machine while he was cleaning it.
I was so ticked off I left without finishing the movie.
At least I didn't kill the clerk who did it.
One of these days I'm going to just explode from all the unexpressed anger, annoyance and irritation. But first, I have to get the popper fixed...IF we still have electricity...
I had a day. It started with the theater's parking lot being closed until 3pm for a car show that no one bothered to warn us about. That was very irksome, since our customers had to park on the other side of the mall and hike over to us. Then it got weird: when I checked the register totals after the 5 o'clock shows, both cash registers had identical sales totals. In the three years I've been working there, I have never seen that before. The odds of that happening have to be astronomical, so it was kind of cool. But when I checked the sales after the 7 o'clock set, both registers had identical amounts again!
Now, that's just creepy. Thank God they had different totals at closing time, or I would've been arranging for an exorcism....
I had one of those days. My newest pair of shoes sprang a hole in one toe. I broke a nail threading a projector. I used liquid nails to fix my shoe and then read that it was toxic, and not to get it on my skin. When it wouldn't come off with soap and water I had to use popping oil instead of mineral oil or petroleum jelly as the label recommended. Before I could wash the oil off I had to change the cheese bag in the nacho cheese warmer and the nozzle popped off and squirted cheese all over my pink dress. I discovered we are almost out of popping oil and our supply order doesn't come til Tuesday afternoon--and I have a school group of 239 coming Tuesday morning.
And that was all before 1:30 pm. Some days it's not even worth it to go into work.
Yesterday was exhausting--not because we were busy, but because there was so much managerial stuff I had to do, not the least of which was dealing with getting the computer to print (I took in my old Canon BJC 250--designed for Windows 95!--and got it to work! Yay! Now I have breathing space until we get the Epson C86 to print something other than the print test...), fielding phone calls from groups that wanted to arrange theater rentals and getting my weekly inventory done. I'm really looking forward to the time when the computer will do half my paperwork for me. That may be as early as Tuesday's payroll. I'm hoping that by next Friday I'll be able to do my inventory with Excel. That will be so awesome!
I suspect that now we've become computerized, white-out sales will bottom out...
I don't think I mentioned this before, but we're having problems getting our Epson C-86 printer to work with the "new" computer. See, when the other theater had it before it closed down, the old printer broke, so they would send the info to a floppy and print it off a different computer. They finally bought a printer, but they got an error message saying there wasn't enough memory, so they just kept doing the floppy thing until they closed. Then when we got the computer, we bought more memory and put it in. But the printer still won't print!
We tried uninstalling and reinstalling. We tried using the parallel port and the USB port. We even bought a new USB cable in case that was the problem. We ran an anti-virus program, and called every technical support line we could find. Finally somebody (Epson? the ticket software vendor?) told us to check Microsoft.com. The DM and I both found the same "solution" to the error message (rundll 32) about adding a piece of code to the boot info, but when we went to do it yesterday, that line was already there--so that wasn't the problem, either.
The printer prints, by the way--you can print a test page from the task-bar icon. But if you try to print from excel or word or the ticketing software reports pages, it just hangs, "not responding."
Do any of my beloved geeks have any suggestions? Because I'm afraid if we don't get this printer going soon, the owner is going to take the whole thing back!
The company has been on my back to cut payroll. It seems that the first-runs are in a slump, so even though business is good for the second-runs, we have to tighten our belts to keep the company afloat.
I get that. And (finally) having a computer is going to help, because instead of rounding off their clock-in and clock-out times to the nearest quarter hour, the kids who show up at 4:06 and leave at 8:24 won't be getting their free 12 minutes ($1.10) a day.
Yesterday when the owner called to check on our business, I mentioned that the cleaning crew needed more time than the 2.5 hours he'd mandated for 50¢ Day and all of a sudden we were in the middle of an argument about my payroll. It seems that my theater has the lowest employee turn-over in the company. Hey, that's a good thing, right? Less time spent training newbies, fewer screw-ups from trainees, more employees that are fast and efficient, right?
Wrong. According to the owner, I must be doing something wrong to have so many clerks and cashiers marking their one-year with the company.
Some days I am amazed that our theater chain is still in business....
For my geek readers, agog for the specs on my work's "new" computer: it's a Compaq Deskpro 64 MB Pentium 2 using Windows 98! Whoo Hoo! We had to buy a "previously owned" memory chip and upgrade to 128MB yesterday to get the Epson printer to work... 20th century, here we come!
I wish I had been on the list to be notified that yesterday was "Psychotic Customer Day." There was even one in front of me in line at the bank when I went to pick up our change order--she threw her ATM on the counter in front of the teller to make a withdrawal, and then went ballistic when she was very politely told she needed to either use the card at the ATM or write a check at the window. By that point I had already had one customer who was outraged that she had to pay a dollar--a dollar, mind you--for her 2 year-old to see Madagascar with the rest of the family, so I should have been fore-warned.
I hate days like that. I hate having to ask teen-aged mothers to please watch their language because they are repeatedly shouting "shut the f*** up!" to their toddler. I hate fielding complaints because unruly children are running up and down the aisles disturbing other patrons, while their parents are watching the movie. And it makes me heartsick that little kids have mothers who leave them unattended in the lobby where they can dart behind the concessions counter during a rush--they could get stepped on, tripped over, or splashed with hot oil or butter. It's probably just as well I've never had kids; I would hold on to my child crossing streets and in busy public places, and not shout "shut the f*** up!" at her (at least until she was a teenager) repeatedly--which, judging by the examples I see at work, indicates that I have a narrow view of what is and isn't proper parenting. There must have been a memo for that I missed, too.
All that turmoil definitely ruined what would otherwise have been the high point of my work year: yesterday afternoon the DM surprised us with a computer...
The good thing about Monday holidays is it seems like the weekend has two Saturdays (our best business day). That's also the bad thing, because Saturdays are exhausting.
It also shows how fickle humans are, because we've been selling tons of the less popular candies and are running out of a couple that I didn't think I needed to order on Friday when I did inventory. Oh, well--a complete turnover in the stock means that it's fresh, right?
We're finally starting to get some of the bigger summer movies, and the best draws are the ones that people will see repeatedly, like Finding Nemo and Shrek2. One family yesterday was on its third trip to Madagascar. I myself haven't seen it yet, but all the employees have an ear-worm from that song that plays over the credits. The customers even come out of the theater singing it.
I blame President Bush.
[Only marginally related--ever notice those annoying, can't-go-straight-to-the-menu ads on DVDs that tell you illegal downloading is stealing? Aren't they targeting the wrong demographic there? If you've downloaded the movie already, what are the chances you'll be renting or buying the DVD to see the ad?]
I've been waking up every hour or so, so I decided to heck with it and got up (even though I have to work until midnight tonight and won't have time for a nap before I go in because it's one of my sisters' birthday and there's a party/lunch today). Why is it some nights I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow and am out until my alarm goes off, and others are like last night? I can't even blame caffeine for my restlessness, since I stuck to lemonade after noon.
I suppose I could blame the crappy day I had yesterday: we ran out of 3D glasses for Sharkboy and Lavagirl, the bulb in projector 2 spontaneously blacked out in the middle of a movie and was extremely reluctant to be re-ignited, one of my closers no call/no showed (meaning she was so fired, and that I had to redo the week's schedule to cover her shifts) and somehow, in the middle of the 7 o'clock rush, somebody broke our main entrance door.
It was really weird. I came downstairs from starting the 7:15 show, and there was a brief lull in the lobby while the customers regrouped for the 7:30 assault. This meant I could see past the sea of bodies to notice that the main door (there are four glass-paneled doors, two for entering and two for exiting, but only the main door locks and unlocks with a key) was not closed all the way. Because it was hot and steamy outside, and air-conditioning cool inside, I headed over to pull it shut, not thinking about the fact that it operates on hydraulics and that it's impossible for one of our doors to stand ajar.
It wouldn't close. I figured there was something caught in it. I pushed it all the way open to check, and then tried to close it again when I found nothing. There was a horrible screeching of metal scraping metal, worse than fingernails on a blackboard, and it stopped about four inches from the jamb. This was not good. It was as if the door had swollen and become too big for the frame. Only it's a metal door and frame, not wood. Somehow, during the stampede of patrons trying to get into the lobby and out of the sudden thunderstorm that had hit us and blown by, the door had been warped in some way. How do you warp a metal and glass door?
I called our handyman and told him it was an emergency and the dear man made it over in record time. As I left the theater in the hands of my capable assistant, he had the top of the frame unscrewed and was fiddling with the hydraulic closer. He must have fixed it, or I would've gotten a phone call.
I need a vacation.
Work has sucked lately. Now that I think about it, though, it's not so much that there have been more problems than usual; rather, it's that I'm not viewing them as a challenge anymore. Now everything that goes wrong is an irritant that exasperates me. It's already very frustrating being the red-headed step-child of the company, so when my best clerk no call/no shows and I have to fire him, and we have to operate short-handed because it's going to take three people to replace him, I just want to chuck it all because all the little problems (the cleaners leaving an outside door ajar, another leak in the ceiling, the Pepsi order not being delivered, etc.) have used up my patience.
The funny thing is, despite all the inconvenience and extra work of losing my number one employee, I sympathize completely with the fact that he just couldn't face one more day of dealing with stupid people--like the ones who say "Give me a Large" and when he asks if they meant a large popcorn or a large drink, they act like he's the idiot. We don't pay these kids enough for what they have to suffer at the mercy of customers.
Come to think of it, I don't get paid enough, either....
Why do people assume that if they have spilled their drink in the theater they can just get a free refill? First of all, they have already created more work for us, because now we have to mop under the seats all the way down to the screen (pop, like other substances, rolls downhill). Plus, they have already proved their inability to control their beverages, and now they want us to trust them with more? Honestly, if they bought a new car, drove it off the lot and immediately smashed it into a tree, do you think they really would expect to walk back to the salesman and say "I need a different car, I broke that one," and get an on-the-spot replacement?
Yes, we gave him the refill. It just annoys me that he even had the gall to ask...I wish we didn't have to cater to the drink-spillers of the world.
This is a pic of our concessions area from the perspective of the ticket booth. Notice how "cool" the boys act when they are being photographed....
Even though officially this is my day off, I have to go in to open today since one of my Assistant Managers is out of town, and the other, who was going to take the whole twelve hours, is going to have four movies to tear down and three to put together, almost all of it after we close, so he'll probably be there until 4am, and that's if everything goes smoothly. The way things have been going lately, smooth is not likely.
The "scope" lens in theater one won't focus--something is out of alignment in its innards, and the best I can do is get the picture sharp on the top half of the screen or the bottom half of the screen. The problem is irreparable, and only a new lens will solve it--and the owner won't spring for a new lens. So every single showing, people come out to complain about the focus. Then, Tuesday night after I left, the projector in theater two got so dark that my assistant had to give everyone at the last show passes. Turns out that the bulb had vibrated itself off center, so no light was getting through the lens. Only I didn't know that until after we'd had to cancel the first two matinees on 50¢ day. Most of the customers were nice about it, but one was irate that we hadn't publicized the cancellation. Um, lady--even if we know which radio station you listen to, or what newpaper you read, we didn't plan to have mechanical difficulties! There's also an ongoing problem with projector three--a pin holding on one of the sprocket reels sheered off, and threading three is an adventure every time.
Overheard customer movie review of the week: "I got my money's worth--all fifty cents."
Ah, the start of my work week again. That means it's Inventory Day! I have the insurmountable joy of counting every bag, cup and package of candy in the building. Then I get to calculate what's been used versus what's been sold and determine the net shortage. In the two years I have been doing this, inventory has never balanced. Not once. That's because if a clerk rings up a large drink instead of a large popcorn, we're short the dollar price difference. Or if a customer changes their mind, and the clerk throws away the bag or cup instead of putting it in the "spoilage" box, we're short the entire retail price of that item. I think the best inventory we ever had was -$5.00. Or maybe it was +$5.00. Either way, it didn't balance.
What is wrong with people? Are movie theaters the new Vomitoriums? In the last month we have had to clean up more puke than in the entire previous year. The last incident was the last straw. It's bad enough when they spew in the theater, or the lobby, or miss the toilet and decorate the entire stall. But over the weekend a woman politely informed us that her daughter had thrown up in the restroom sink. It took two days, two bottles of draino and a lot of plunging by strong-stomached clerks to get the darned sink usuable again. I'm sure the kid didn't know any better, and the mom was anxious to get her sick kid home, but the least she could have done was give us her name and address so we could call a plumber and send her the bill.
Most people have no consideration for other people's property. Wait. Make that, most people have no consideration. Last night between shows my cashier was helping a newbie behind concessions. Someone pounded on the glass to the box office. He stopped what he was doing, went to the box, and the girl on the other side of the glass asked him what time it was. He looked at the clock on the bank directly behind her and told her, and she walked away! Without a word! Without a 'thank you'! And not only does the bank have a big clock on its face, but the grocery store in the strip has a giant tower with a clock on it, too! Plus, she could have just stepped into the lobby and looked at our clock next to concessions--in fact, you can see our clock from where she was standing! Instead, she has to bang on the window in an obviously empty cubicle until someone comes running.
My fantasy replay:
Cashier: Hi! Can I help you?
Rude girl: What time is it?
Cashier: Which show would you like to see?
Rude girl: I'm not seeing a movie, I just need to know what time it is
Cashier: Time for you to get a watch! [slams window].
Unfortunately, we cannot be honest with customers (or potential customers) and tell them to their faces how how rude or stupid or inconsiderate they are. Two weekends ago, one of the cashiers had a siezure in the box office. Not only did most of the customers stand around gawking, one woman walked up and demanded a refill on her popcorn from my assistant manager while she was trying to call 911! Out of the dozens of non-employees who witnessed the incident, only one offered to help. My assistant was so grateful she gave him free popcorn, soda and candy after the EMS and the cashier's mom arrived.
I frequently hear people complain about how slow or dense or rude a cashier or other retail clerk was. As a customer, you had to put up with one rude/stupid person waiting on you. As a cashier, you have to put up with waiting on hundreds of rude/stupid customers. Who's got it worse?
We've got a store meeting today, so I have to go in earlier than usual. Mostly the meeting is for our first fire drill (mandated by the Fire Marshal). Unfortunately, there won't be any firemen in attendence.
Work has been fairly routine lately; even during Spring Break the most excitement was the occasional customer requesting tickets for a mangled movie title (Meet the Fockers was an obvious target, but we had quite a few people who didn't seem to get that the movie they wanted was called National Treasure, and a large number who believed that Are We There Yet was entitled Are You There Yet). Obviously Fred, our theater ghost, couldn't let the week pass without some sort of mischief, and so he worked his vile magic late Sunday night after everyone had gone home.
As I opened up on Monday I was both relieved that Spring Break was behind us and looking forward to Tuesday off so I could wrap up my final project for school. After turning on all the breakers so there would be light, I headed around the concessions counter to unlock my office.
At first my brain wouldn't process what I was seeing. I flipped on the lights behind concessions to get a better look. The floor on the far side of the concessions area was completely covered with a dark liquid. Was the roof leaking again? No, there was too much liquid and it was too dark to be roof water. Could one of the buckets that catch fountain drain-off have been moved? No, that would just be clear water from ice melting over night.
What the hell was that?
I moved closer and realized that the liquid was coming from underneath the kitchen door and had spread out from there toward where the roof usually leaks and the buckets usually drain when they overflow. It was also thick. Very thick. It was as thick as...syrup.
Oh. My. God.
For anyone unfamiliar with the secret workings of fast food establishments, fountain soda pop is actually manufactured on the premises by combining water, CO2 and flavored syrup. The syrup comes in 3 or 5 gallon Bag-in-a-Box containers, the size depending on the type of pop. For example, Sierra Mist comes in a 3 gallon box, and Mountain Dew in a 5 gallon. The lake of syrup covering half of my concessions tile was obviously either Dr. Pepper, Pepsi, Diet Pepsi or Root Beer. Please God, let it be Root Beer--the other three all come in 5 gallon containers....
I opened my office, dumped my purse and jacket, and headed to the mop room for our rolling wringer bucket and cloth mop. Sop up syrup, dip mop in water, wring out, repeat. After a few minutes of not making much progress (I needed to get into the kitchen to see what the hell had happened) I went to the stock room, dumped some candy packages on the shelves and tore the corrugated cardboard cartons open to use as a walkway across the syrup. One M&Ms box got me within reach of the door handle and one Sqwigglies box got me into the kitchen and dry tile.
The bad news was it was Pepsi. The really bad news was that Pepsi syrup, unlike other pops, is dispensed from two side-by-side, connected containers. They were both empty. Yesterday they had both been three-quarters full. That meant I had about 7 or 8 gallons of Pepsi syrup creating a small lake on my floor. Wonderful. (At $43 a box x 2 boxes x 75%...about $60 worth of Pepsi syrup was literally going to go down the drain.)
Since I couldn't find a hole in either of the boxes, and the dispensing nozzles were still correctly attached, I was at a loss as to the cause....until I noticed that the back of the kitchen door and much of the sink area were covered in little droplets of dried Pepsi. Being a mystery novel aficionado I knew that this would have been called "arterial spray" if it had been blood, and, even without the help of the CSI unit, I determined that it had originated from the connection point where the syrup feeds into the thingee that adds the water and CO2. My next action was to call Pepsi Repair and declare a Pepsi Emergency. I was assured that a Repair Technician would be speeding my way in the next several hours.
The rest of the incident was rather anti-climactic. My cashier and clerk showed up and took over the tile-reclamation project. The Pepsi Repair Technician eventually arrived and we were able to serve Pepsi once again by the second set. By 8pm, all evidence of the Great Syrup Explosion had been erased from everything except memory.
I love my job!
Well, yesterday wasn't too bad--I only had one April Fools joke played on me, and it was a fairly innocuous one: my Assistant Manager gave me a couple of puzzles that were impossible to solve (one was a word search that didn't have any of the listed words in it).
I had a fairly hectic day, though. I had to spend half of my normal inventory time giving the Fire Marshal a tour of the premises. She found a few things that we have to change (we can no longer keep the wheeled trash barrels that we use for cleaning the theaters between shows in the conveniently and centrally located space beneath the stairs--the steel girder stairs, by the way--to the projection booth, and we have to find a new place to keep our bottled water so it's no longer within 30 inches of the breakers in the kitchen, and we can't stack our paper towels and toilet paper with 18 inches of the sprinklers in the mop room, ad infinitum), most of which are going to be a major headache since the only place we have to store anything has the sprinkler system controls in it, and thus nothing can be stored there. I also have to devise a fire evacuation plan and conduct quarterly fire drills.
The employees are quite excited about the fire drills, although they were somewhat disappointed we don't have to conduct them during normal business hours when they would get to herd the patrons out into the cold.
Well, I'm off the the Safety Sign Builder--the room with the sprinkler controls needs to be labeled.
Well, the electrician never made it yesterday, so I had to go let him in at 8am this morning. There was a pool of water all over behind concessions because one of the fountain spigots was dripping. I called Pepsi repair after I had most of it mopped up. The repairman explained what caused the problem as he fixed it, but most of it was "man-speak" so I just nodded and smiled. The electrician, who also gibbered on in man-speak about his work, finished about 11, and because I'd only had a few hours sleep I came home and went back to bed. This makes (adding on fingers and wiggling toes to carry the one) fourteen consecutive days without an entire day off from work. Being on salary sucks sometimes.
I've been complaining so much lately that I resolved to start blogging about good news. Today the projector repairman (the one who reminds me of Smoky from The Big Lebowski) fixed the last possible thing that could be causing the sound in theater two to go in and out (last week he replaced the speaker, and the week before he exchanged the exciter lamp for a laser reader), the "crossover"--what ever that might be...
Except, the sound still is getting quieter, then louder, in theater two. He has replaced everything possible that could be causing the problem, and we still have the problem.
I think we need an exorcist.
I'm sick, so I'm waking up every hour. I finally said screwit and gave up trying to sleep. Instead, I will blog that yesterday's workday was worse than any three recent bad days combined.
Theater one projector--no light (rectifier died). Our biggest movie.
Owner says to cancel movie in 3 and move people from house one to house 3.
Attempt to move movie from house 1 to house 3. Cut it out of brain. Different brand platters, so no center ring. Twisted. Misshapen. Takes 45 minutes to move and re thread.
Customers yelling at employees for refunds.
Hurrying. Start movie, go to get yelled at.
They want their dollar and they want it NOW. No takee passes, want dollar!!. Gerk!!!!!! 3 against 1! NO fair!
I go to my office to cry--no time, movie is melting! Passes for everyone else. Film all twisted around one gate. Hour and a half to cut out of projector and splice and wind. Have to watch it--film still misshapen and trying to slide off platter. Finally ready 5 minutes before next show time.
Whole body aches and coughing up florescent green matter. Projector stops for no known reason. Movie restarted. Does it again. Spent the rest of the night watching in case.
Of course I had my most hopeless clerk helping me during the initial crisis. He's a sweet boy, but new and not the sharpest crayon. He's one of those people who, the harder they try, the worse they screw up. Thank God the night shift came on in the middle of the disaster--two veterans who I didn't have to explain everything to in words of one syllable. Both my assistant managers had left town and headed south for Spring Break, my best clerk had the day off, and my second best clerk was working the ticket booth. (He--my almost-the-best-clerk--came upstairs to help me once the night cashier came in, and if it weren't for him I think the movie would still be wound around the first gate.)
Re-reading my depiction, I realize that I left out some of the more gruesome details. I thinks it's because once the crisis started I was working on auto-pilot and my memory is more like a slide show of the highlights than a straight-line recollection. One of the sharpest slides is of the customer who wanted his money back and threatened to take us to small claims court for his $7.00 (He had a wife and some kids with him--I didn't actually count them, but there must have been five if he paid for seven people). I did not say "Do you know how stupid you sound?" although I was struck speechless. And not only did this guy and the other two women who were demanding their money back intimidate my employees into running upstairs every five minutes to convey their demands to talk to me, but they were, IMHO, at fault for the movie getting eaten, since I rushed to get the movie threaded so I could deal with them, and then was downstairs listening to them tell me how they didn't have time to hang around and watch the movie (although they had lots of time to yell at me and my employees) instead of upstairs making sure the movie was operating properly. I decided that if, God forbid, this ever happens again, I'm going to tell the kids to have the complainants choose a delegate to send upstairs to talk to me while I work, since they seem to think that a manager's job is to tend to them and only them and their petty little complaints. Maybe if I make them help lift a hundred pounds of film off one platter and carry it to the other side of the building without it unraveling they'll appreciate what their dollar was spent on.
Dream on, right? My best cashier (who got a job managing a pet store and I miss very much) once pointed out to me that people don't get it--they think that movies are like their DVD players at home, that we just push a button and can rewind and fast forward and all that. They have no concept of the complicated machinery that runs a movie.
I think what irks me most about being yelled at because concessions is closed (last night's example pounded on the projection booth door while I was upstairs turning on the lights for the egressing shows) is they always say they wouldn't have bought the large if they'd known they weren't going to get a refill. Think, people. The medium is 22 oz. for $3.00. The large is 32 oz. for $3.25. You're saying that you're angry because you couldn't get an additional 32 oz. of pop, but 22 oz would have satisfied your thirst just fine? Please.
Because some patrons just don't get it, I've asked my clerks to remind customers attending the last set that they need to get their refills before (insert closing time here). They remember the reminder about 75% of the time. And not once, not one single time, has a customer said "Well, in that case I'll just take a small." That I-wouldn't-have-bought-it-if-I'd-known stuff just doesn't fly.
And if you can read on the sign where it says that there's a free refill on large, why can't you read the next line that says concessions close at 7:30?
I heard somewhere "a person is smart; people are stupid." I am really really getting burned out dealing with stupid persons. I am exhausted having to deal with the lowest common denominator when it comes to the meaning of "every day" or explaining why, on Fridays and Saturdays when shows that start after 5pm cost $1.50, you can't buy a ticket for the 7pm show at 4:50 and only pay $1.00.
Last weekend we had people stacking up in the lobby waiting to get into our most popular movie. I went to check on the clerk who was cleaning up after the prior show and learned that the reason she was taking so long is that a couple who were watching the end credits made her stop sweeping because it was distracting them, saying they had "paid good money" to see the movie without kids running around blocking the screen. I told her that if that ever happens again to offer the people three cents to leave, because that's about much of their admission price applied to the end credits.
Thanks for letting me vent. You guys are great!
My workday started with the discovery that our supply delivery driver had tried to stack some fifty-pound bags of raw popcorn on our candy counter--our glass candy counter--with obvious results. Well, obvious to everyone but him anyway. My workday ended with a customer yelling at me because concessions was closed and he couldn't get a refill on his Pepsi an hour after everyone had gone home except me.
I have to go pick up the replacement glass counter top tomorrow, and let in the electrician who was supposed to come today but rescheduled.
I'm drinking Sprite with 2 shots of Peach Schnapps. One of my sisters gave me the bottle for Christmas and tonight seemed like a good time to crack it open. It's peachy, with a hint of spriteness.
I am now going to go kill things like Cave Lupes and Spectral Mummies...
fpmy jsbr yo,r yp n;pg....
13 hr workday yesterday-- both the owner and the DM stopped in-- over 1100 customers-- wrong showtimes in newspaper-- blurble blurble Sqwigglies....
So, say that our movie line recording says that we show a certain movie daily at 5pm, with a Saturday and Sunday matinee at 1pm. Further stipulate that customers were confused by this, so we altered our wording to "showing every day at 5pm, with a Saturday and Sunday matinee at 1pm and a Friday and Saturday late show at 9pm."
Now, consider that yesterday I personally answered several phone calls from people calling to say "Your recording says it shows every day at 5pm; is there a 5pm show on Saturday too?" or "Your recording says it plays every day at 5pm, and there's a 9pm show on Friday and Saturday. What's the last show on Sunday?" and you can see why I am a little frustrated by the apparent lack of intelligence in the populace at large.
If we had the recording time to list each day separately for each movie ("showing Friday at 5 and 9, showing Saturday at 1, 5, and 9, showing Sunday at 1 and 5, showing Monday at 5, showing Tuesday at 5...") we would; unfortunately, the alloted time is finite and unalterable.
So, Dear Readers, is there any way to inform people that Saturday and Sunday are "days" and therefore to be included in the "showing every day" portion of the recording?
Movie projectors are not intelligent. Start a projector and it will happily turn its little gears until it is told to stop. You could take a six foot length of 35mm film, splice the ends together, and the projector will play that endless loop forever.
A "brain" is an electronic gizmo that sits in the center of a film platter and controls the speed at which the film pays out--optimally, the same speed at which the projector gears are turning.
Basically, a movie leaves the platter through the brain, runs through the gears of the projector where it just happens to pass in front of a very powerful light that is shining toward a movie screen, and rewinds onto another platter.
Quite a few things can go wrong even with this apparently simple system. My least favorite is the "brain wrap." If the brain fails to do its job properly, the feeding-out platter could turn at the wrong speed or even stop, and instead of paying out smoothly at the same speed that the projector is turning and the other platter is rewinding, the film begins to wrap it self around the brain (hence the term). Eventually the film wraps itself tight enough that it can't pay out anymore. The projector, however, does not know that the film has stopped advancing--it just happily keeps turning its little gears while the take up platter pulls harder and harder. Eventually one of two things happens. Either the film breaks (which is unlikely unless there is a splice at one of the major stress points) or the frame stuck in front of the 2000 watt Xenon bulb begins to melt. At this point a patron usually mentions it to the theater staff.
The big problem with fixing a brain wrap is not cutting out the melted frame and splicing the movie back together. The big problem is that the film projection system is a one-way process. There is no re-wind on a movie projector. When the film is wrapped snugly around the brain like thread around a spool about the only thing you can do is cut the film out of the brain, unwind it onto the floor, and manually try and wind it back onto the platter. Unlike thread, though, film has a front and a back, and a tendency to curl up--imagine trying to put fly paper back into its can (without the stickiness, thank goodness) and you can see the chore it is.
Depending on many variables, a brain wrap can be fixed in about 10 minutes, allowing the movie to be resumed, or it could take several hours, in which case the patrons all get passes and are sent home. Either way, a brain wrap is not fun.
We had another brain wrap on Saturday. The sound in theater two continued to act up intermittently, although thankfully the customers were decent about it. One of the toilets in the the west men's room wouldn't stop flushing, and there were two major leaks over the concessions area that were steady enough to require buckets. I'm thinking about making a horror film called "The Curse of the Dollar Movies."
This story has a happy ending, though. Thank God for Monday! Repairmen work on Mondays. The landlord brought roofers to patch the hole in the roof over one of the leaks, and add flashing to the air conditioning ductwork, the runoff from which was causing the other leak. The plumber came and fixed the haunted toilet. The projector repairman promised to come out today and see if he could fix the sound in theater two and repair the brain that hemorrhaged. And I have today off!!!! Hurray!!!!
Now that two different movies had both had sound problems in theater two, it appeared that the projector was at fault. I called the DM to report the problem, and he suggested trying to clean not only the light head but the sound drum as well. Huh. Who knew you could clean the sound drum? Armed with my handy Q-tips and rubbing alcohol, we stopped the movie and gave all the available surfaces a quick wipe. The movie restarted, I sent one of the clerks to monitor the sound, and after a few minutes he returned to report that all was well.
That settled, I retreated to my office to start working on next week's schedule. A little while later I detected people trickling out of theater one. Only, it was way too early for the show to be over. A quick re-con revealed one of the clerks handing out apologies and passes to the departing guests. Oh. My. God. While I had been busy shuffling papers, the movie in theater one had brain-wrapped* and my Assistant was upstairs franticly splicing. I bolted upstairs to help, but she had it all in hand and shortly the film was rolling again.
There are days I wish we had a liquor license, because a gin and tonic sounded really tempting around then, especially since folks starting leaving theater two again--the sound was back to fading in and out. Sigh. One of the groups that left consisted of several wheelchair-bound individuals whose van's chair lift had been made inaccessible by a car parked in the access-ramp space between our two handicapped spaces. I had actually called a towing company to remove the car when my cashier pointed out that it, too, was a handicap-stickered vehicle, and he persuaded me to cancel the tow, and the van's driver to move the vehicle to the side door of the theater where the lift could be used unobstructed.
Meanwhile, the employees had gotten to the point where, when someone came up to concessions, the query of the day was not "Would you like a refill?" but "Do you need a pass?"...
My Assistant and I worked out that we would forewarn customers to the 9:20 showing in theater two that we were having sound problems, and that the next day before opening she would play musical movies--the movie in two would go back to one, the movie in one would go to three, and the two movies in three (which we have had for several weeks) would go into two. That settled, it was (finally!) time for me to go home and put the day's troubles behind me....
When I got out to my car, the door was frozen and wouldn't stay closed.
*I was going to explain a brain wrap, only the theater's landlord just called and I need to go in early to show the roofers where our own personal Niagara Falls is pouring water onto cash register 1.
To be concluded....
First part here.
Regular readers know that my theater has state-of-the-art 1970's equipment. Recently, some of the studios began using a new kind of sound encoding on their films' audio tracks which cannot be read properly by the exciter lamps in old projectors; it takes a new (expensive) laser reader to properly play the sound on those films. Only two of our three projectors have been upgraded, so when customers began coming out of theater two complaining of the sound quality ("It's too quiet!" "It's too loud!") it seemed like the problem must have been the exciter lamp in that projector. So after all the five o'clock shows had finished we switched out the movies in theater one and theater two.
That sounds so simple when written. In actuality it takes two people to wrestle the five-foot wide reel of 35mm film from one side of the projection booth to the other, and then do it again in reverse. But we managed to get everything switched over for the seven o'clock sets.
The people who had problems with the sound at the five o'clock had been mildly annoyed and accepted movie passes as an apology. The 7 o'clock complainers were totally psycho. One woman in particular (with her daughter in tow--that child has a wonderful role model!) figuratively stamped her little feet and flailed her little fists as she demanded her $3.00 back.
I suspect that if we had a computerized ticketing system there would be a method to account for refunds. As it is, refunding someone's money would make the box office total short that much cash. This is why we don't (and have a sign in the box office stating it) give cash refunds.
Note to people who would like a retail manager to go against company policy to appease you: Do not start your conversation by insulting the staff, premises and management abilities of the person from whom you are requesting a favor. Particularly do not assert that you are never returning to the establishment before you have gotten your way, as that removes any incentive the manager might have to placate you in order to retain your business. Furthermore, consider that the manager may be of the school that believes it is a mistake to reward bad behavior: just as a good parent will realize that purchasing their child the candy they have already been denied--solely to stem a tantrum--is very poor parenting, so the manager may be of the opinion that indulging a fractious customer's unreasonable demands--merely to make the customer go away--reinforces that customer's tendency to screech rather than persuade reasonably.
To be continued....
No, it's not bullwinkle's story, it was yesterday's workday.
I've never had so many things go wrong in one day before, at least not that I recall--if I had, I've probably repressed the memory for the sake of my sanity.
The day started out badly to begin with--instead of arriving early, as is my habit on inventory day, I got there on time, which meant I really was going to have to scramble if there were any unexpected matters I'd have to deal with before opening. Something always crops up on my day off, and even if my assistant handled it, I still have to get up to speed.
I walked in to find the lobby trashed. No, not burglars or vandals--what it actually looked like was that the cleaner had keeled over in the middle of cleaning: popcorn remnants everywhere and an open trash bag sitting next to one of the benches. I found a note in the office telling me that the vacuum cleaner had died.
I think I need one of those blood-pressure monitors for days like this. To say I was annoyed would be understatement. In fact, just recalling it is aggravating me again! I called my assistant and left her a message concerning my displeasure, hoped that the concessions clerks would show up a little early so I could put them to sweeping the the lobby, and went to take the trash bag to the dumpster. It wasn't trash. It was marquee letters, obviously left over from the movie change the previous night. Grrrr......I left those for the clerks, too, and started the weekly inventory (which has to be completed before we open and start selling stuff again).
I unlocked the door to the supply room, and blocking my entrance was a mountain of marquee letters, just piled up instead of stored in their individual, alphabetized cubbyholes. Blood....pressure.....rising.....
Over the next hour I finished the inventory, starting making the day's popcorn, determined that we needed ones and quarters in change from the bank, and filled out the week's supply order form. I only burned one batch of popcorn. As the employees started trickling in I set them to cleaning the lobby, putting away the letters and checking to see what was wrong with the vacuum. (The belt was broken). By opening time I was pretty much caught up, although I still had to start working on next week's schedule. I figured I had survived my day's allotment of annoyances and frustrations and it was all going to be downhill from there.
To be continued....
This week's "Special" Customer Award goes to the gentleman who so selflessly took the trouble to inform the concessions staff that it was "dark" in the theater. Apparently he was unaware that it is customary to turn off the lights while a movie is running. Here's to you, Mr. It's-Dark-In-That-Theater Guy!
Say that you decide to call the movie theater where your son is seeing a movie, perhaps because there is a family emergency of some kind. [Note: in most cases, being out of milk does not constitute an emergency.]
To begin with, it would help if you knew which movie he had planned on seeing.
Next, understand that movie theaters do not have PA systems for announcements during the movie (this is why your car would not start when you came out after leaving the lights on for two hours--the staff noticed it, but had no way of informing movie viewers).
Thirdly, be appreciative of the fact that the woman who answered the phone--a mere two minutes prior to the start of the next scheduled show--is willing to take a flashlight and search a darkened theater for you.
And, finally, for God's sake, when she asks you for a description of your son, do not tell her that "He's tall and wearing black pants" as if this will be helpful in a pitch black room full of seated people.
I guess watching the Super Bowl was pretty popular because business yesterday plummeted like an anvil off a skyscraper once five pm rolled around. One minute the concessions area was knee-deep in children clamoring for SpongeBob Sour Gummies, and the next the lobby looked like a grocery store snack aisle after a Michael Moore shopping spree. Yes, it was that empty.
In a way the respite was nice, since we had been hopping all weekend. But it was also sort of a shock to go from bustle to boredom in the space of one set of shows. The employees started throwing ice at each other, which I had to put a stop to before somebody put an eye out. Sometimes I think they view me as the person put on earth to take all the fun out of life. Which, of course, I am.
Unfortunately for them (but luckily for me) things have been going fairly smoothly at work lately. Either that, or I've become so accustomed to disaster that I don't notice it anymore.
The roof now leaks in a couple of new places. One of the women's restrooms is down to a single working light fixture. Someone cut a foot-long slit down the upholstery of a seat-back, and another seat lost its cushion. Oh, and the owner is talking about turning us into a first-run. (Insert loud, prolonged, raucous laughter here). I have customers complaining about the amenities on 50¢ day--I can't imagine the reaction we'd get if we tried to charge $6 or $8 a ticket...Wait, yes I can: loud, prolonged, raucous laughter.
What's even funnier is, according to the DM we have one of the nicest theaters in the chain. Oh. My. God. Our carpeting and seats were installed in 1971! Our projectors and popcorn popper are so old they don't make parts for them anymore, and the repairmen have to jerry-rig them on a regular basis. Duct tape is our #1 supply expense. Imagine, if you will, having to choose between spending $7 to see a movie at one of the two (soon to be three) multiplexes that have stadium seating with cup-holders, digital projection and DTS surround-sound, or at our three-screen theater with its thirty-five year old lumpy seats, rickety projectors and state-of-the-art monophonic sound. There's a tax-loss waiting to happen.
Now that I think of it, the walls in the two new theaters still don't have the sound curtain up--drywall, baby, yeah! The new decorating wave of the future....
I really don't understand why people don't teach their children manners anymore. Last night two children came up to concessions for refills on their popcorn and soda, and tried to cut in front of some other customers who were waiting in line. The clerk told them he would be with them in a minute, as soon as he'd taken care of the people he was already waiting on. When he finished that order, the children were gone.
Fast forward: a woman came up to concessions and started yelling at the clerk for refusing to give her children refills. He explained they he hadn't refused, he'd just asked them to wait while he finished with the people who had been there ahead of them, and he would gladly give her their refills now. When she told him she had thrown away the bag and cup, he offered to get her some courtesy bags of popcorn. "I don't want anything from you!" she declared before stalking out.
What bothers me about this whole thing is that my clerk did nothing wrong here, and yet doubtless this woman is going to be proclaiming far and wide how we cheated her children out of their "free refills." And if she didn't want anything from him, who did she want something from?
This reminds me of another time when we were really busy and selling popcorn faster than we could pop it. A woman came out of one of the theaters with an empty popcorn bag and leaned against the side counter with it instead of getting in line behind the twenty or so people waiting for service. Since she was not wearing this tee-shirt we had no way of knowing that we were supposed to immediately drop everything and prioritize her need for seconds over everyone else's need for firsts. She was exceedingly annoyed that none of the clerks (who couldn't even see her back there behind them in the corner) rushed to serve her, and that I (who could see her from my vantage point) didn't clamber over the intervening bodies to wait on her.
I have to wonder if this is part and parcel of the tendency of certain people to believe that the service industry is some kind of lower class that doesn't deserve the common courtesy one would offer to someone of one's "own kind." Only if they are so accustomed to obsequious fawning and reverential fore-lock tugging, then what are they doing "slumming" at the dollar movies?
It's the dreaded 50¢ day and since, for a change, we're not having a blizzard or an ice storm, it'll probably be a little hectic at work today.
Tomorrow will be the last day for Seed of Chucky. That's good news because I am tired of dragging 10 year-olds out of the theater by their ears before I start the movie. I only wish I could remove the children who are with their parents, as well. Of course, when mom & pop have to explain to the kiddies what Chucky was doing that made him make such funny noises, and exactly what was in the turkey baster, they might think twice about bringing the children to an "R" rated movie again. Dream on, right?
We do card at the box office, of course, but it amazes me how many parents are willing to buy their kids tickets yet reluctant to watch the movie with them. Just the other day a family of four came up and bought two tickets for Chucky and two for another movie--only when they left concessions and split up, the kids headed for Chucky. Not on my watch, Buddy! I had to explain to the parents that they all watched the R rated movie, or they all watched the PG-13 one, but their 6 and 8 year-olds were not watching Chucky unless the folks were there to cover their eyes when Chucky started jerking off. I really hate being the morality police, but I'm doing it For the Children™...
Well, I managed to make it into the theater yesterday, despite the rain, sleet, snow and freezing rain we had alternately in a few hours time. The employees made it safely too, and we opened for business just about the time all the banks and other stores were closing early due to the weather. We had a grand total of 14 hearty souls for 6 movies, and because it was 50¢ day raked in an awesome $7 at the box office. But wait! There's more! Concessions sold almost $20 worth of popcorn, soda and candy! Whoo Hoo! That's about half what we need to pay the employees for working, not including me.
Winter. Oh, joy.
We had over a thousand patrons yesterday and except for not being able to pop corn fast enough to keep up with demand there were no major crises to document, thank heavens! All the projectors kept working, none of the movies broke, and only two of the employees had nervous breakdowns (but they were both pretty unstable to begin with, so that wasn't too surprising).
With Christmas behind us, the customers are mostly pleasant and laid back, and we've had very few unreasonable demands (one was a gentleman who ordered a small popcorn, asked for lots of extra butter, and then came back and said the popcorn was too greasy and he wanted candy instead. Sheesh.) The biggest problem was, once again, irresponsible parents, like the one who didn't seem to care that her four-year-old was wandering the lobby looking for her while she was in the theater watching her movie. Then there were the groups of thirteen-year-olds who kept trying to get into our lone "R" rated feature, including one cadre that argued with the cashier about it for ten minutes before finally buying tickets to another movie. This put all the employees on "sneak-alert." I'm pretty sure none of them got by us. Of course, if they did, one of their parents will call and yell at me for allowing their darling to see an "R" rated film.
What I don't understand is the parents who want to buy their kids tickets to the hack-'em-up while purchasing tickets to the drama for themselves. Is it really so difficult to understand "Under 17 must be accompanied by parent or guardian"? Is our educational system so pathetic that people don't understand the meaning of "accompany"? Or are the parents just so lax about what their kids see on cable that they figure an "R" rating doesn't matter? I've seen stuff in a PG-13 movie that I thought should have earned the movie an "R"!
Well, I get to go play in my hatchback now--one of my brake lights went out on my way home from work at midnight. It's always sumthin'....
I'm only asking because that's when the kids go back to school and life will be somewhat less stressful. The sad thing is, it's not just the unsupervised children that create problems. The other day there were some grade-school aged girls shoving each other in the lobby, and when one pushed another into the concessions counter hard enough to knock over a trash can I asked them to settle down. A minute later a woman starts yelling at me for speaking to her children! She seemed to think that I should have first asked every adult in the concession line if those were their
brats darlings instead of putting a stop to the roughhousing. I believe I mentioned something about the little angels having no manners or respect for other people's property, but I suspect it went right over her head.
I'll just have to take out my memory of the mother who had her little boys write us an apology for knocking the masking off the bottom of the screen in one of the theaters, even though there was no real damage done, as a reminder that there is still hope for civilization....
And there is hope. One time there was a boy who wanted to buy candy but was twenty-five cents short so I gave him a quarter out of my pocket. A week later he came up to me and repaid the quarter. It took me a minute to realize who he was and why he was giving me money, but occasions like that (even though they are few and far-between) tend to make up for the rudeness, thoughtlessness and vandalism we encounter daily.
Completely off-topic, everyone should read Michael Crichton's latest book, State of Fear. I just hope if he sells the movie rights he retains script approval, otherwise Hollywood is going to twist his message 180°...
I can assure you that our marquee does not say Dollar Movies and Licensed Day Care Center, but that doesn't seem to dissuade parents from dropping off their children and driving away. Today's stellar examples actually purchased tickets for themselves and their six offspring for Seed of Chucky (rated R, so the parents have to buy the tickets) and then snuck out to go see a different movie at a first run movie theater. Of course, I didn't know that until the kids, aged 4 to probably 13, had been sitting in the lobby for over half an hour after their movie finished. They were still there when my Assistant relieved me, and I gave instructions for the police to be called when the waiting time hit the three hour mark. Naturally the parents showed up about ten minutes after the officer did. Maybe I need to reduce the amount of time before I consider the children abandoned since the folks always seem to miraculously appear shortly after the police arrive....
Yesterday's Make the Manager Delighted She Never Had Kids Award goes to two pre-teen girls who thought it would be hilariously funny to stuff the toilets in the ladies' rest room with not only toilet tissue and paper towels but also the plastic bag of hand soap from the soap dispenser.
Stay tuned--there's 13 days to go....
Yesterday we did 3 times as much business as we did on Friday, and it was still only about half as busy as it should have been (yes, Friday was pathetic). It also seems like more and more people are skipping concessions, which is very bad since that's what pays the rent (and the employees!). I know it's not because we have poor quality offerings--I snack on our popcorn and drink our pop and I've even tried our nachos and cotton candy, and they're all at least as good if not better than you get at a lot of other places. We even pop our own corn, which some theaters don't do any more.
Hmmm...I just had a scathingly brilliant idea. Perhaps I could try offering a free movie pass with the purchase of one of our big ticket items, say cotton candy or nachos. That's no money out of our pocket since the movie studios get the box office take anyway. I'd have to print up a different color pass, so I could keep track of how well it was working, but that would be easy peasy--I might even have some odd colored printer paper around here already, and if not, Office Depot is only a mile away.
This could work.....
Thanks, gang!!!!! I appreciate your letting me bounce ideas off of you!
Well, we weren't slammed last night, as I'd hoped, but we did do twice as much business as we have on Fridays for the last six weeks or so, so things are looking up. Today and tomorrow need to be awesome, though, or otherwise the owner is going to be asking me what I'm doing wrong (not dragging in the customers at gunpoint is the most obvious response).
Dear Tiger asked what movies we are showing for a buck. We have Saving Christmas and Resident Evil 2 and Princess Diaries 2 and two other less memorable titles that elude me in my pre-coffee condition.
We have a tendency to give the films nicknames. (OK--I have that tendency, and the kids have picked it up). For example, when it's time to start Resident Evil 2, I tell them I have to go unleash the flesh-eating zombies. Hey, we have to get our entertainment where we can, since we can't go watch the movies. The title of this post is another example. We have those moving light signs above each theater to tell patrons what is playing where (although I don't know why we bother since they all ask us which theater to go to anyway; God knows what they do in a multiplex if they can't find their movie in a building with only three screens!). When there is more than one show playing in the same theater we have to change the signs when the film changes, and the above post title appeared where it was supposed to say Saving Christmas.
Ok, it seemed funny at the time. I guess you had to be there.
As a manager, I'm used to handling the occasional crisis, large or small. But when I get a series of consecutive and near-simultaneous crises, that's when I get flustered. Yesterday was pretty flustering.
To start the day, one of the platters wouldn't stop winding on take-up. This is bad. [For those unfamiliar with movie projection equipment, I have some pics of platters here.] If the projector isn't running, and the platter is, the film is literally torn asunder. Luckily, the platter was only creeping slowly, but I still had to turn the power off on the platter once the movie was threaded, and then remember to turn the platter back on again once I started the projector. Meanwhile, I left a message with our projector tech to pencil me into his busy repair schedule.
Fast forward a couple of hours. One of the clerks poked his head into my office to tell me that the movie in theater three had stopped. This is bad. This usually means that the film has gotten twisted, caught, or otherwise mangled and is melting from the heat of the projection bulb. I bolted upstairs to find....nothing. Oh, the projector had stopped, alright, but there was absolutely nothing wrong, and once I hit the start button the movie continued playing without incident. Now, this is creepy. There are only 3 reasons a movie will stop once it has started playing. One: a power outage--only the lights hadn't even flickered, let alone gone out. Two: a brain wrap or other malfunction that causes the machine to stop when it detects that there is no longer any tension in the film as it leaves the projector (this is what turns off a projector when the movie is over)--but the movie was fine and the dead man's switch wasn't tripped. Three: someone flipping the "emergency stop" switch--only the switch was in the "off" position, so if someone had flipped it, they had flipped it back again. As I said, this was creepy. Either someone was playing unfunny games with me, or the movie stopped due to supernatural influence.
About an hour later, just as it was time to start the nexting showing of the movie in number three, the clerks tell me that a patron had thrown up in that theater. Sigh. I told them I would wait to start the show until they had gotten it cleaned up, and headed upstairs. They were working in the row fourth from the back. Then the fifth, sixth, seventh....the vomit apparently had run downhill for half a dozen rows. After ten minutes or so I finally hit the start button. Thirty seconds later, the movie stopped. That's because it was winding onto the platter that was giving me trouble and I had forgotten to turn the power on in my hurry to start the now-late movie.
I think my ghost has moved into theater three.
I think some customers are difficult just for the sake of being difficult. Last night, for example, a woman complained that the popcorn was stale. Now, I think that with the advent of microwave popcorn, people have forgotten what "real" popcorn tastes like. I also think that it probably takes awhile for popcorn to actually taste "stale" since we routinely serve the previous night's popcorn to the first show of the next day* and people do come back for refills. However, occasionally we get a customer who is not happy with their popcorn, and if we have made fresh we replace it for them.
Last night's complainant did not come to the first set of shows for the day. She came to one of the 7pm shows, which meant we had disposed of Friday's popcorn at least 5 hours earlier and had been popping frantically ever since. I therefore assured her that we had popped that popcorn within the last hour. That wasn't good enough--she wanted popcorn only seconds rather than minutes old. Sigh. I told the clerk to go ahead and replace her popcorn with some from the batch currently sizzling in the kettle.
Later I checked back with him to be sure that the customer had gotten her popcorn. He assured me that she had pronounced it wonderful--even though he sneakily had scooped it from the popcorn already in the popper, rather than from the corn that was only seconds old.
I sometimes wonder if customers like this didn't get enough attention when they were children...
*This is because our antiquated machine, when it is working, takes for-freaking-ever to make a batch of popcorn, and the only way to be sure that there is some corn for the first set of shows is to have some from the previous night.
So the popcorn popper fell apart again yesterday, and since the man who used to repair it for us passed away two months ago, I thought we were screwed. A movie theater with no popcorn on Friday night? Nightmare time. Luckily, the employees sprang into the breach, and with the help of an old instruction manual schematic they managed to get the thing back together and working again. These are kids who learned "keyboarding" in grade school, and can't imagine life before microwave ovens (the olden days!), yet they were able to figure out the mechanics of a machine built before any of them were born. I'm proud as heck of 'em.
I think I'll try and see if I can find a schematic for the oil pump online--maybe they can fix that, too!
Regular readers know that I enjoy pointing out the occasional idiocy of our patrons. There was the customer who asked "What's the name of that miracle movie?" (it's called Miracle), the woman who dragged her small child out of The Haunted Mansion because she "didn't know there would be ghosts in it!" and the man who requested a ticket for "the bone...the burn...um, that Supremacy movie". But last night we had a real winner:
Male Customer: "Two tickets for Cellular."
Female Customer: "Was that movie in theaters?"
Cashier: "...." (stunned speechless).
So did you guys change your times yet? For some reason I think it's this weekend. Anyway, I was going to blog about the Halloween doings at the theater, but I'm too darn tired. Maybe tomorrow....
Happy candy gathering on the Eve before All Saints....or is it All Souls? Hmmm...
ADDENDUM: Well, I've had a few hours sleep, and even though it's too early to have to get ready for work, and my poor body is far from well-rested, my brain is awake and running in circles and just won't go back to sleep, dang it! I hate it when that happens.
So I 've had a heck of a weekend so far, and it's only just Halloween today. The strip mall in which my theater is located decided to hold their annual treat giveaway on Friday evening, at least partly because a lot of the boutique type stores either aren't open or close early on Sundays. Last year we gave out cheap candy we bought at the Dollar Store, but this year we decided to go with our "theme" and give out little bags of popcorn and a movie pass. My Assistant Manager scoured the shops for two weeks to find little treat bags to use that didn't cost more than a penny apiece. The ones she finally located were kind of small, and only held about a cup of popcorn, but we bought 400 of them. In the meantime, I printed 500 movie passes on bright orange paper. The clerks filled the bags and set them in boxes and we were ready to go.
We ran out of treat bags and had to go buy brown lunch bags and cut them down. We ran out of orange passes and had to start giving out our regular ones. By the end, we'd had over 600 trick-or-treaters. The worst were the parents who got all pissy because they had to wait a few minutes for more popcorn, sighing and checking their watches. The second-worst were the kids who, after getting their treat, ran around the building and got in line again, only to turn loud and obnoxious when refused seconds. And, of course, there were the brazen few who showed up long after the event's publicized end-time and demanded something free.
Once Friday's festivities were behind us, I had Saturday to look forward to. We had a real estate company doing an employee appreciation day with popcorn, soda and a movie before our first matinee, and in the middle of the movie the electricity went out. It came right back on, but of course I had to go re-start the projector, and one wag wittily asked if we'd forgotten to pay our electric bill. It turned out that we were lucky--half of the strip mall and most of the neighborhoods to our east were without power for seven hours. Plus, business was pretty good Saturday night because folks decided to go out rather than sit home in the dark.
Sounds like a long day, doesn't it? Well, it wasn't over yet. One of my cashiers made a low-budget horror movie last year, and we had a midnight showing of "The Spell of 13." It's actually not too bad a movie, with good gore and some good scares and some great humor. In addition to producing and directing, my cashier also was one of the leads, and he's a very good actor. Anyway, it was after 2 am before I got the theater locked up and could head home.
So now it's actually Halloween, and I'm hoping my 12 hours today is uneventful, because I've had enough for one weekend. Not that I'd object to a treat or two (especially one like this*)--just no tricks, please. I'm not up to it today.
* Found here.
Thanks to my beloved Pixy Misa I now understand why last night a complete ^#!*@ stepped though the open door to our utility closet and flipped the drain switch on our waterheater so that a torrent of water roiled out so quickly it overran the drain basin and flooded through into the men's room. Not just because he is an ^#!*@, but because I and the cleaner (who had left the door ajar because she was hurrying to finish up so she could get home to be with her kids) who had to mop up the mess while he finished watching his movie in smug triump at having stuck it to the man, are not part of his monkeyspace. Later, I prayed for God to smite him (preferably with a flat tire, but a thrown rod would do as well), but that was before I learned about the monkeysphere. Now that I understand the root causes of his behavior, I plan to hunt him down and eviscerate him myself.
Of course, I plan a lot of stuff I never get around to, like taking a vacation or getting my hair cut or buying new shoes, so eviscerating that ^#!*@ may take awhile. Especially since the only description of him the cleaner could give me was he was wearing white shorts. But from now on I am going to give every man I see wearing white shorts a hard look. That'll learn him.
Today I only hate 993 people, about 600 of whom desecrated my lobby before 5pm. We were shorthanded, so I between cranking out batches of popcorn and keeping the clerks stocked with bags, cups and candy and playing musical change (question: why do people think that it's perfectly logical to hand the cashier a $100 bill for two $1 movie tickets? Contrast this with the person who paid for their concessions order in pennies! And for all I know, it could have been the same customer!) I barely had time to dash up and down the stairs to thread and start movies. I would have had a nervous breakdown, but I was too busy running in circles. In mid-rush I realized that my latest hire just wasn't cutting it. I needed fast and efficient, and he just seemed to implode under the pressure. Sometimes you have to wait until they're under fire to see how they'll react. He's a really sweet guy, but I still let him go as soon as reinforcements showed up. He took it pretty well, and I was too busy to agonize over it (I hate firing people!) afterward.
That's really the worst part of being a manager--having to fire somebody. And not just because you have to admit you made a mistake in the first place when you hired them! It's because you are telling a person that their contribution was not valuable--or, even worse, detrimental--to the organization. I've fired a lot of people over the years, and I still feel bad about most of 'em. (The only ones I don't are the ones I caught stealing). It makes me a little more careful in who I hire, but, as I said, you really won't know a person's mettle until the popcorn's flying and the soda syrup's spilled across the kitchen floor....
We had three brain wraps yesterday. Three! Yes, that's a bad thing...
Even though yesterday was my day off, I spent a lot of time on the phone with my new assistant manager (since she is neither a man nor an ass, I'll just call her A.M.). Poor A.M. was having a heck of a time with our stupid vendors. For example, she arrived at work to find a note from UPS saying they had tried to deliver a package at 10:30 am, and since we weren't there, they'd be back at 10:30 am the next day. This is the definition of insanity, right? Performing the same action over and over hoping to achieve a different result? The really annoying thing is that on Tuesday I got the same note! And I called the UPS people and explained the we are a movie theater (that's why it says "Theater" on the marquee in big red letters) and we have never and will never be open for business at 10:30 in the moring, and the woman asked me "Are your business hours posted?" And I said, "yes--the sign says 'Box office opens 15 minutes before the start of the first show' and the other sign says the first show is at 12:45, so the driver would have to do some math." So she made a note of our hours (noon to midnight) on some computer, and then two days later they try to deliver something at 10:30 am again. Idiots.
Then there's Pepsi. It used to be that I would call my Pepsi driver's voice mail, tell him what I needed, and two days later it magically appeared. But Pepsi decided to become "more efficient" (translation: totally screw up the customer's order every week) by calling me for my order from some place in Idaho on a day it was not convenient for me, and changing my delivery day so that I would have to reguesstimate how much product I would need so I wouldn't run out before the next delivery. And ever since then, my order is always wrong. For example, on Tuesday I ordered lids for our large cups. On Thursday they delivered large cups. The invoice said lids. The invoice always says the correct item. One time they brought me large cups, then medium lids, then medium lids again, all attempting to correct their initial error, and every single time the invoice said large lids (because a new invoice accompanied each delivery) but it took four tries to actually get me the large lids. Then it took another two weeks to get the billing straightened out, since they billed me for large lids every time they brought out the wrong thing. It seems they have no procedure to handle the situation where the customer is delivered the wrong thing but billed for the right thing. And it always seems to be the large lids that cause a melt down in their system. Idiots.
Oops! I have to head to work. First show's at 12:20 this week...(UPS take note: we open at 12:05!)
Have I mentioned that I hate summer? That even with an assistant manager (Ass. Man.) I work 12-12, 12-6, 12-12, 12-8, 6-12 and 6-12 and get one day (between the 12-12 and 12-8) off for good behavior? And next week, our first movie starts at 12:20, so I will be working 11:15-12, etc. etc. And did I metion that the owner has started a 50¢ all day Wednesday promotion? Whereby we get one thousand people (ok, that was a slight exaggeration--last week it was 983) anxious to offer us their loose change (literally: last Wednesday I had $18.27 in dimes, nickles and pennies to deposit. Bet the bank loved me!) in exchange for the chance to see Garfield. On the one hand, this concentrates all the potentional trouble-makers into one day (since we no longer have the 50¢ shows on the other days of the week); on the other hand, this concentrates all the potentional trouble-makers into one day... .
Pray for me.
As is usually the case when I am upstairs in the projection booth threading a picture, yesterday one of the clerks came to get me because the cashier was having difficulties with a customer. (I am never needed to deal with difficult customers when I am in my office behind the concession stand, conveniently located to the problem. Rather the customers wait until I am busy upstairs, changing lenses or starting a show--this is somewhat akin to the telephone's tendency to ring when I am on the stairs, equidistant from my office and the phone on the far side of the projection booth).
The woman in question did not want to pay $1 admission to the 3 o'clock show. She was insisting that she had called earlier and that she had spoken to a female who had told her that we charge 50¢ before 4. Since the cashier and I were the only two females working, that narrowed down the possibilities. Because the cashier had not answered the telephone at all yesterday, obviously I was the one who had spoken to the customer.
Now, let me make this plain. Despite my puckish sense of humor, I am not in the habit of deliberately telling potential customers the wrong prices, show times, or directions to the theater. And I recalled speaking to the woman because she was the only customer who had called to that point. She had asked me when our price was $1.50 and I had told her "after 5 on Friday and Saturday." Somehow, this translated in her brain to 50¢ before 4. She even wrote it on a piece of cardboard torn from a Sprite can 24 pack, because she waved it in my face: "4/50¢" written plain as day above our information line phone number. This proved, apparently, that the manager does not know her own theater's prices and maliciously tells customers the wrong information (We charge 8 ¢ all day Thursday! Free condoms to the first 50 customers to say 'I heart cheese"!) merely to get a good laugh, or some other sadistic enjoyment from their inconvenience or discomfiture, because managers, as we all know, love having irate customers yell at them....
Of course she demanded the owner's name and phone number, which we happily supplied.
The last laugh is on her, though--because 90% of all customer complaints are related to the fact that people cannot understand that "between 4 and 5, tickets are 50¢" means BETWEEN, not before, the owner has done away with the 50¢ price except for all day on Wednesday.
I expect we will get people demanding 50¢ admission on Tuesday because they thought it was Wednesday....
The greenies are annoying Pixy and that reminded me of an anecdote: Customer came up to the box office and asked for two tickets to "The End of the World." We knew immediately she wanted to see "The Day After Tomorrow".
I haven't watched it yet myself, but judging by the bits I have seen, sans sound, from the projection booth, I know what it's about--Dennis Quaid and some other "scientists" are drilling in a polar ice cap and cause the whole thing to crack. Part of it apparently floats away and covers New York City during some ecology conference in New Dehli. Then some people trapped in a high-rise throw their furniture into the fireplace until the monster from Stephen King's "Dreamcatcher" comes to their door, then they throw the furniture in faster. At the end everyone walks across the ice until a helicopter picks them up and they fly over the head of the statue of Liberty.
Hope I didn't spoil it for you.
Boy, yesterday got away from me. We had a school group of 286 come in, so I had to go in early to make 286 small popcorns and 286 small Pepsis for them. When I got home from work I was so tired I flopped into bed and fell asleep without blogging.
I hate it when I have a calender day that hasn't changed color...
Today starts the holiday weekend, and the owner neglected to order us large popcorn bags. I had 250 on Sunday when I did inventory, and he told me that he'd thought that would be enough (when we had used 194 last week, without a holiday weekend.) Well, we sold 40 on Monday, 33 on Tuesday and 29 on Wednesday...you can see where this is going, right? At the current rate we'll run out sometime late Saturday afternoon. I wish he would let me order my supplies! I did call a local candy wholesaler and order Buncha Crunch, Raisinettes and Goobers. We had 12, 7 and 3 left, respectively when I did inventory. He sent me Gummi Bears--I had 51 of those. Now I have 111. I guess he's expecting a run on them.
The bad thing about ordering locally is I have to pay c.o.d. And that makes us low on change for the customers.
We're also dangerously low on the butter-flavored hydrogenated vegetable-based substance that, when heated, passes for "butter" on popcorn. I forsee rioting by Sunday...
I had another customer go psycho on me over fifty cents last night. In front of her two kids, too. Why is the 50¢ show the one that attracts the wackos? I can't remember any customers having a psychotic break over the dollar shows.....Maybe I'll start keeping little baggies of small change in the safe, and when someone wants their fifty cents back I'll give 'em a handful of pennies and nickles. Oh! I could keep it in increments of 45¢ and if they actually count it and complain I'll tell them it's the "handling charge".....
Yesterday I had one of those days that
cause people to seriously contemplate suicide are somewhat stressful. When the owner dropped by (with his creepy son) on Sunday he rattled off a list of things he wanted me to take care of. Since most of them involved contacting businesses that keep "normal" hours, I couldn't do any of it Monday since I was on 6 to midnight. Tuesday I usually go in at noon during the summer, but yesterday I had to be there at 10:30 am to let in the projector repairman. There'd been a brain-wrap Saturday night and again Sunday afternoon, so I'd yanked that brain out of the platter and thrown it with all of my might to the opposite corner of the projection booth set it aside so we didn't accidentally use it again until it was repaired. The projector tech (who reminds me of Smokey from The Big Lebowski) also had to make some adjustments to the piece of crap used projector "new" projector (from which sundry parts had been falling with gleeful abandon ever since it was installed a few weeks ago).
So I went into work an hour and a half early, and things went downhill from there.
Phone tag. Non-answers. Call backs. Employee drama. Salesmen dropping in. To-do list getting longer rather than shorter. A splice breaking on the header of a movie just as I started it. The next showing starting backwards because my hurried splicing in the dark had resulted in my attaching it wrong-sides-together, meaning I had to stop the movie and re-thread the projector by twisting the film the other way through the gates and re-start the movie before a riot broke out. Pepsi calling for our order while I was starting a movie. Please call back in five minutes. Pepsi calling back in ten minutes, just as I was heading upstairs again to start the next movie, so I sent one of the clerks to do it so I could make sure we get our soda delivery. The movie stopping as soon as he'd started it--but he waited until I was done on the phone to tell me that the patrons had been sitting in the dark for five minutes. My running up the two flight of stairs for the umpteenth time to get that movie going (he'd pushed the wrong button). More phone tag. Trying to do next week's work schedule between crises. Another employee drama. I want my mommy!!!!!!
This job may drive me to drinkin'...
I don't know if it was operator error (mine) or equipment failure but we had a brain wrap last night and I had to give passes to 57 people. Then it took me until 1:15 am to get it all sorted out. Splicing the melted frame was a couple-minute job. Winding the movie by hand onto the takeup platter in the 95° projection booth took close to two hours...
Today I'm on noon to midnight. If I win the lottery I'm quitting...
I definitely need a vacation.
I've been neglecting my blogging and giving short shift to my blog reading lately, but I don't think it's beal--I think it's time pressures; since I can only blog from home, and I'm spending less time here due to the summer movie schedule, and I have to spend some of my limited at-home time attending my internet class and doing homework, blogging and keeping up with my blogroll are suffering. And with the new theater and the fact that we can now show three movies at the same time instead of two, even my down-time at work has been reduced. Unfortunately, the more time I have to spend upstairs threading projectors, the less time I have to spend downstairs supervising the plague of 16-year-old boys God smote me with. Yesterday I came down from threading three shows and discovered them playing ball in the lobby with a two-by-four (left over from the construction) and a haki-sak. No candy was injured, fortunately. Rather than offering to umpire I made them sweep and stock.
Screeching "Work!" at them constantly is turning me into a harpy....
Today was one of those days you want to call do-over on:
* the construction still isn't done, and we're supposed to be showing our first movie in the new theater at 1:30 tomorrow
* somebody locked the door to the "kitchen" (it had to have been a construction worker or one of the cleaners because the employees know better) where we keep our ice machine, pop syrup, etc. and because the lock is broken the only way to get in there was to have a volunteer climb through the ceiling tiles in my office and climb over and down through the ceiling in the kitchen to unlock the door from the inside (I called our locksmith as a first resort, but they couldn't get to us until tomorrow and we needed ice)
* I was supposed to go to a mall managers' meeting, but the electrician couldn't figure out how to separate the wiring for what are now two theaters that need to have lights that operate independently, and so I spent a lot of time throwing switches and saying "Did that do anything?" instead
* the company I hired to hang the burlap wall coverings decided to tell me today that they don't want to do it.
That's just a random sampling of my day. I'm pretty sure there are a few occurances for which I have suppressed the memories in order to retain my sanity.
I just had a flashback to the little old lady who kept me on the phone for 20 minutes explaining why she had to know immediately whether the theater would be ready for the 1:30 showing of The Passion on Friday. I should have told her that it depends--if God wants her to see it, the construction will be finished in time.
I can tell it's summer--babysitting season has started again.
This week our last show starts at 9:50 pm, and gets out at 11:30pm. We had thirteen hardly souls who made a late night of it. The last two arrivals bought their tickets just as the box office was preparing to close at 10:05. They were two women who had debated coming to see the show because theirs was the only car in the parking lot, and they were concerned at being the only patrons at a show that late. They neglected to take into account the eleven children under the age of thirteen whose parents dropped them off in front of the theater beginning at nine pm or who had ridden their bikes to the theater.
I don't get it. Maybe it's because I'm not a parent myself. Maybe if I had a winsome blond, blue eyed eight year-old son I would have no qualms about abandoning him with his friend in a public place where the only requirement for admission is a dollar bill. Maybe it wouldn't bother me at all to let my ten year old daughter ride her bike home from the theater at close to midnight. Maybe I would just shrug off the very real possibility that child molestors and abductors might like to see movies that appeal to kids, or could be driving around quiet neighborhoods at night on the lookout for young bicyclists.
I'm reminded of the incident last summer, when a mother picking up her little darlings after midnight complained that some young men had made suggestive remarks to her eight and ten year old daughters during a show. What did she reasonably expect me to do? Sit next to every set of unattended children? Refuse to sell tickets to teenage boys on the grounds they are male, and thus might hit on preteen girls? Refuse to sell tickets to her daughters after she had already dropped them off in front of the theater and driven away, because some teenage boys had already purchased tickets?
I've joked with my employees about instituting a "babysitting surcharge." Maybe that's what I'm going to have to do--charge $11 for every unattended child, and use the money to pay an employee to sit next to them for two hours...maybe if it came out of their pockets, parents would realize they need to take responsibility for their children. I'd have to hire a lot more employees, though...
Well, most of the customers were understanding and forgiving when we explained that construction delays had precluded our showing the movie they came to see. They accepted that we had to put our newspaper ad in a week ahead of time, and once we knew that the construction was delayed it was too late to pull it. A few responses stand out, however. One obviously irate man pounded on the box office glass when he learned we weren't going to show The Passion of the Christ; he kept asking what we were going to do for him since he'd come all this way to see a movie we didn't have. We're going to pray for you, sir. Another customer pointed to the sign we had put up--apologizing for the construction problems and stating that Starsky & Hutch would be our only movie--and suggested we put up a sign saying that we weren't showing The Passion. I guess some people are more interesed in what we aren't showing than what we are...My favorite suggestion came from a woman who wanted to know why we hadn't announced on the radio that we weren't going to be showing The Passion this week. My cashier patiently explained to her that the cost of buying air time on every radio station in the city was prohibitive, and even if we had, how could we have known when she would be listening? Interestingly, the patrons arriving for the other two movies we weren't showing didn't make a ruckus. I'll have to remember that what we're not showing matters more to some movie goers than others....
The owner finally admitted what we at the theater have all known for weeks--the construction would not be done yesterday. He accepted this truth AFTER booking the movies, advertising in the paper, and having us announce the schedule on our marquee, box office signs and recording. So, between 10am and 3pm Friday we went from four movies scheduled in three theaters to one movie scheduled in one theater. We hurriedly had to change the signs, recording and marquee, but there's nothing we could do about the newspaper ads which went out a week ago, and so we spent the night turning away customers who had come to see the three movies we weren't showing.
I'm a little stressed right now. I wonder if it could be because this weekend still has three days of irate customers to go?
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.
UPDATE: It only took the locksmith half an hour to remove the two plastic fork tines from the safe lock. Then he cracked her open, gave all the moving parts a quick lube, and made sure it was working smoothly before riding off into the sunset...
I haven't seen the bill yet.
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...
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....
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!
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....
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
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"....
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...
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:
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...
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:
And here is a picture of empty cans and reels (because the film has been made up and is on a platter for exhibition):
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...
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.
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...
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?
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:
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....
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:
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:
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.
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....
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...
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!!!!)
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...
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.
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!
I had a really horrible day at work today. I call do-over.
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!
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.
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....
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.
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...
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:
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...
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!
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
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....
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!
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....
I love my job she said sarcasticly as she arrived home from a 13-and-a-half hour day...
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....
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.
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 :
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.....
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.
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....