Tales from a Movie Theater Employee

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Free movies, the tantalizing smell of popcorn, walkie-talkies — the life of a movie theater employee is a glamorous one. But behind the scenes of this dream job, things get real. Really real.

On the outside, it may seem easy to sell popcorn and rip ticket stubs all day. And as a former cinema employee, I can tell you that it kind of is that easy. But you forget one thing — people are weird.

People do weird stuff all the time. Especially in crowded public places like a movie theater. Maybe being amidst a large group of people lulls people into the sense that they can get away with stuff and others won’t notice. Then, of course, there are the entitled people who think they can get whatever they want and walk all over the staff because they’re taking the time to relax and see a movie. Thankfully, I’ve dealt with very few of the latter.

Something I learned quickly from working at the front counter is that the customer is not always right. Lots of people don’t really know what they need, and it’s up to you to figure it out for them. I’ll sum a few scenarios with the responses I wish that I had told the customers at the time. You can hopefully tell what was going on based on that.

  1. No, you shouldn’t take your toddler to see Deadpool. It will most definitely leave a mental scar on them and they won’t laugh at any of the jokes. Also, how does the name Deadpool indicate to you that this would be a good movie to bring children to?
  2. No, you can’t get freaky with each other in the back of the theater. Even if there’s only one other person in the very front. It’s also Pete’s Dragon for goodness sake, what is wrong with you? (This one actually happened to some of my former coworkers, who I’m sure are still scarred from the cleanup.)
  3. Sure, you can pay for your movie in all gold coins, but are you a pirate?

It’s not all bad. One night we deep-cleaned all the theaters and I found 30 bucks under seats. But there is more dark stuff that goes on than you’d think. I have had popcorn in places you wouldn’t want to know. Also, people throw up at the movies all the time and the popcorn machine can be pretty dangerous (I have scars).

Next time you go to the movies, just remember that those employees deal with more than you think. So patiently wait in line to buy your tickets and concessions without fuss, and please silence your cell phones.


Ean Montague is a senior studying professional writing and film. He is also the Managing Editor for Impact 89FM student radio and enjoys watching and playing soccer, discovering new music and movies, and eating spicy foods.

Tags: Employee, Movies, Theater