Words by Matthew Spence:
Congratulations yo! You’ve just gotten hired by your local movie theater [work with me here]. Double congratulations for not fucking up the interview (good job, I’m proud of you). You’re officially a part of the team, welcome to the world of cinema brought to you by an average movie theater at best (Jackpot, yo!). But, before you have your official day and have a (slightly) fulfilled work experience, it’s best I prepare you. Now as a wise old-timer expert myself, having worked at a theater for 4 years, I know the ins and outs of working at a movie theater… (Spoiler Alert: It sucks ass kinda). So let me take you on a trip around what to expect and how to survive the day to get back home to do the same shit the next (how to survive is patience and asking for help to sum it up).
Let’s break down the shifts: you have Concession, Door, Box Office, and Janitor.
Basically, You’ll be selling tickets, snacks, ripping tickets, and cleaning shit. Quick and easy, right? but that’s just the basics, take a seat and learn about the nit and grit.
-Marvel on How You’ll Hate Marvel
“Marvel Fatigue”, isn’t just for moviegoers, try being the one selling the tickets my g. The second you hear the announcement of a new Marvel movie, you give the meanest eye roll in the history of existence, sigh aggressively, regret every decision you’ve made in life and you’re gonna wish you get hit by a car that week so you can have a reason not to come in that day…..seriously. The night before you prepare like you’re getting ready to go fight in Vietnam. Stock up on candies, cups, buckets, lids, sanity, and patience. By the end, you figure out that Marvel translates to “a lot of motherfuckers”. Lines for a new release could feel endless and stretched as if we’re selling legal crack. While your anxiety avalanches everywhere. Leading to the next.
-Rushes, Rushes, Rushes
You know how in horror films there’s like that one person who’s very aware of the serial killer and warns everyone about them, but no really takes them seriously until they actually see the killer? Don’t let this be the case, theater rushes are a bitch. Some you could prepare for, others you don’t expect. Whichever one hits you, it’ll still result in the same outcome: frustration, a constant back and forth of getting orders, repetition of the same statements to where you feel like you’re stuck in a torturous cartoonish time loop, and by the time you realize that over an hour and 30 minutes have gone by, you have to fight to keep a straight face and not breakdown emotionally cause people are still showing up to see a movie that in the back of your mind know, it’s gonna be a piece of shit. At the same moment you hear the beeping of the popcorn machine, which brings you back to earth cause if someone burns the new batch of popcorn, you’ll be even more fucked mentally in that moment. In the end: you’re out of stock on certain shit, theaters are sold out, people will bitch and moan over both cases and you’ll be proud of yourself for not telling any of the customers to “fuck off” in the middle of any of it. To Quote Eric Cartman: “the Lines, the Lines, the Lines, I HATE LINES”
-If Rushes are hell, then Slow days are Purgatory
Not every weekend will be chaos. Especially during certain seasons, there are dry spells. So on slow days, whether weekend or weekdays, they’ll feel like a gift and a curse. Boring if you’re not with the right company but you’re getting paid to do nothing. So…. tight.
-Gotta Love the People (not really)
The movies have taught me a lot about people. What they’re capable of, what they’re willing to do, and the level of fucks they may or may not give. No matter the age range, it’s impressive that out of nowhere someone can fuck up your day, let alone several people who you may never see again. Case in point, how they’ll leave the theaters aka fucking messy. Now there’s nothing wrong with an accidental spilled popcorn or drink, like shit happens you know. However, when you see a perfect trail of popcorn spread through the aisle going to the steps, you can put the pieces together of “these bitches did this on purpose”. Puke, dirty diapers, bong water (joking on this one but it’s most definitely happened somewhere)… and used condoms.
Seriously…..people have sex in the theaters (and bathrooms), personally, I never caught anyone in the middle of it but according to numerous detailed accounts from my coworkers…..motherfuckers are so horned up that they can’t wait to get home to get each other off, so instead are willing to get caught by a 17-year-old employee in the middle of a flopping Will Smith movie. Last but not least, people use the bathroom wherever they are because they can’t make it to the bathroom, whether it be the trash can literally next to the bathroom. Yup. And don’t get me started on the motherfuckers who show up last minute to buy tickets and snacks as we’re about to close (I’m bordering the line of “fun article” and “venting”)
Dealing with teens constantly will make think fondly about your teenage years and wonder: “Jesus Christ, I wasn’t this obnoxious………..or was I?” Constantly stopping them from sneaking into different movies (especially during the summer), causing commotions and disturbances in their theaters ruining it for people actually trying to watch the movie. Motherfuckers will legit pay (most likely given by parents to get them out of the house) just to not watch the movie and troll in the theaters to where it’s like “you couldn’t have just loitered at a McDonalds or some shit”. (Side Note: I feel teens roll in bigger groups than ever, I swear I constantly saw groups showing up with like 13 people and shit, they were always like mob deep). Motherfuckers will fight every now and then, over what, you may ask. Who fucking knows, but it was mainly teens brawling as if that was their pass time at home.
-Same Place, Different Faces
At one point, you start thinking about how so many different people you see. You’re aware of the billions of people in the world and the millions in the state but at some point, you sit and grasp that idea a bit more. Basically, you have one of those “damn, this is real life” moments (maybe it’s just me, who knows)
-Five Finger Discounts are Deserved
Now, it’s not all bad, they’re perks. Free movies and discounts on snacks and stuff….which is cool, however, there’s no judgment if you decide to straight up take some of the snacks without paying. Cause after finding used condoms, being yelled at by people over being out of nacho cheese, and yet you’re still replaceable in the eyes of the company…. fuck it yo. If you’re not comfortable with that, just charge yourself the cheapest item there and then take whatever the fuck.
-Price isn’t Right (But what the fuck can I do?)
Get used to people complaining about the prices at the concession…all the fucking time. Of course, you’ll understand their frustration, however, after a bit, you’ll find yourself saying “I don’t make the prices” so often and you’ll think to yourself “how about you sneak in snacks and leave me the fuck alone”.
-Finders, sometimes Keepers
People lose shit all the time. Keys, headphones, wallets, and sometimes their kids (not even joking too). Best bring them to the lost and found, cause they usually come back for them. If you find money….well, keep it, unless it’s $20 and more cause people will ask about it but if it’s less…..go for it.
-End of the shift
Working at a movie theater is a job that can be annoying, makes you irritable, and can make you feel disappointed in society (well even more disappointed at this point in life). Yet, that’s most jobs, so take it with a grain of salt. To balance the shittines, it’s still a fun experience that isn’t necessarily the hardest job that you can have. Leaving with many stories to tell, working at a theater is like the equivalent of the movie “Clerks” or “Adventureland”, except its reality. Just fucking around until customers bother us. Of course many factors come into play: the company, your coworkers, circumstance, your bosses and managers, they could be all be assholes who ruin the fun of it. However, if you’re lucky enough to have decent ones, then it leaves more room to let you lean towards the side of “I like my job” …..until you’ve been there a little too long then it’s like “fuck this place”.