Secret Story: For Those
My Last Summer Job
The dark of the Movie theater. How trusting you are to sit in the dark with
people you know nothing about; hundreds of total strangers, also sitting in the dark,
- Behind - You.
I remember working in the Movie Theater as a young lad. After
a while, I got bored with the novelty of seeing free movies, the SAME movies, several times a day in chunks, scraps, and pieces. Then there
were the rude folk. Those human droppings who try to waste everyone else's
money and enjoyment by making stupid remarks, kicking the seats in front
of them, and/or being generally obnoxious. I would always be the one,
chose by the management, to go quiet the "loud" ones, basically because
I was pretty good at it.
I'm a fairly big guy and I was good at getting obnoxious people to be
I could always be counted on to go in; make the noisy people in the audience silent, and come back out. No muss, no fuss: not ever
Truth be told though, even
in a 12 screen theater, it was hard to keep quiet about the people who
wouldn't leave after the movie was over: the people for whom an ambulance
had to come and take them away.
No witnesses of course: total strangers, no one knew each other. The folks
seated in the dark, didn't see what happened, or maybe did see but were
secretly delighted at the plight of the obnoxious jerk who had
harassed them so.
Hmmm. I didn't really think of that at the time. I probably should have given that more thought.
In any case, the first three times it happened, the manager was very tense about having
to call an ambulance and the subsequent arrival of the police. And yet she didn't fire me, and she didn't send someone else: I was THAT good at my job. One day she was
told that if the police or ambulance had to come one more time, they would close the place
down, there would be an investigation, and they would release it to
So . . . did my boss turn me in? Did she fire me?
No. She just
stopped calling the ambulance: No ambulance, no police.
Whenever somebody couldn't leave, she would send me alone to go with
the great big plastic garbage cart to clean up the screen room for the
Soon, obnoxious people weren't coming to our theater as much. Everything was
fine for many months, then nearly a year. My manager was promoted out of the theater and they sent someone else to run the show.
One summer day, two days after school let out, we had one screen room
with an ENTIRE ROW of rude noisemakers, disrupting others and daring
the other moviegoers to do something about it. I remember that it was
a very hardcore horror movie: a gory blood and guts kind of flick; really
attracts a select type of fan. As always I first asked the noisemakers
to please be quiet in respect to the rest of the patrons. That works most of the time - but not this time.
"You gonna make us be quiet?" was the response.
Well of course I would. I knew that, though I guess they didn't. There were many of them, so I couldn't be furtive, quick and silent as usual - but - I did make them be quiet.
I waited until a certain scene, then silenced them during the loudest, most screamingest part of the movie.
- Just as the film broke.
- A blinding bright shutter blade of light froze me and exposed me at 24 frames a second.
The automatic sensor on the projector alerted the manager in her office.
This was her first time with me and my methods.
Usually, when the film breaks, the entire audience goes into an uproar. But this audience was too busy staring at me and what I'd done. In some ways, they were probably as surprised as I was; as my new boss was about to be.
She arrived in time to see the result of the silence. She stood there gaping at me and my work. Then the stunned crowd rose to give me a standing ovation. Some of my new "friends" helped me move the silent people out to the
dumpster. They clapped my horrified manager on the back and swore
how they "would always come back to THIS theater!"
"This one really takes care of their customers!"
She left in a stupified daze while I cleaned the screening room, then she asked my co-workers to call the police. Her surprise at me was compounded by the response she got from them. I'd worked at the theater for years and many of my co-workers had worked with me nearly as long. So of course they knew me and what I did. I'd been at it for a long time.
After closing, the new manager quietly asked me to "Please help me lock up."
When everyone was gone, she courteously gave me the day's receipts, over $30,000 dollars
in cash, and asked me to "Please quit." and never come
back. She was exceedingly polite.
I'm not stupid of course, I clearly understood her reasons and I appreciated
her being up front with me.
I finished college and got my degree. Now I'm a police officer. The TV show COPS
is coming to our city next week to spend a month taping and riding with us. The Police Commissioner himself has given me that time off: a bonus vacation with pay.