Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A thing that happened last month

On a weekday evening last month, I went to my neighborhood commercial art film theater (that, to be honest, mostly screens middlebrow visually bland horseshit about famous inspirational people, old folks getting their grooves back, old British folks getting their grooves back in India, feelgood neoliberal message movies for upper-class white people who are really pleased with themselves, movie-star Oscar-grubbing vanity projects, and a couple of genuinely good-to-great independent and foreign movies a month) to see a movie. My wife had a busy night, so I was flying solo and decided to get some candy at the concession stand, which we never, ever do. As I was waiting in the sort-of long line, I noticed a hubbub of some sort near the front with some very flustered-looking young employees exhibiting facial expressions I knew well from my own high school and college years in retail (the "can you believe I have to politely listen to this goddamn unreasonable human being to keep my job and can you believe how many fellow human beings are this goddamn unreasonable" look). The hubbub hadn't yet reached pandemonium status but was approaching a clamor. This is an unusual thing at a theater that mostly attracts rich old people wanting to see whatever chapter of exotic fucking marigold hotel we're at now or fellow thirty- and forty-somethings who like non-superhero movies. The guy at the concession counter was enraged, and his voice kept getting louder.
This theater chain has a policy that if you buy the enormous, expensive, enormous popcorn size and you manage to eat it in all its enormity, you can come back in the lobby for a free enormous refill during the screening. The angry man at the front was under the impression he could come back any time he wanted and get a free refill, including a quick drop-in after work without even purchasing a movie ticket, and his empty popcorn container had clearly seen many miles on this road we call life, considering it was dented in several places and covered in dirt. When he received the reasonable verdict that a refill was not going to happen on this particular date and time, Mr. Popcorn Tub 2015 went berserk. He told the awkward college-aged assistant manager that he was doing a terrible job, he berated every member of the staff in detail, he threatened to call 911 and the police department, he yelled a ton of stuff about "false and misleading advertising," and he closed with this beautiful sentence about enlisting the local TV news watchdogs in his crusade before angrily storming out: "I'm gonna call 7 On Your Side and put this place on blast!" ("Area Man and His Dirt-Covered Container Denied Free Refill in Obama's America, tonight at 10, right before 'The Big Bang Theory'")
The woman in line ahead of me turned to me and rolled her eyes. "Calm down, man," I said. "It's only popcorn." Then I thought about all the misery I've caused in my own life with my own quick, stupid temper. Then I bought some Twizzlers.

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