Friday, January 15, 2016



Two days before Christmas, I decided to go see a matinee of the new “Star Wars” movie. I figured the kids were still in school, and most people were at work during the afternoon, so the theater wouldn’t be mobbed.

Once again, I’d figured wrong.

I’m not at all like my friend Barbara, who loves crowded movie theaters. She says she enjoys the party-like atmosphere of a bunch of people cheering, screaming, laughing, singing along with the tunes in the movie and even dancing in the aisles.  When I told her I’d prefer it if I were the only person in the theater, she accused me of being anti-social.

I guess that’s because she’s probably never experienced the pleasure of sitting in front of someone whose feet were rammed about shoulder-blade high into the back of her seat all night. Or she’s never had to endure listening to the guy next to her giving a blow-by-blow description of the movie’s entire plot because he’s already seen it six times.

Anyway, I decided I’d be smart and buy my ticket in advance online so I wouldn’t end up driving all the way over to the theater only to discover the show was sold out.  I was relieved when I was able to get a seat for the time slot I wanted. Even better, I had a $25 gift card for that particular theater, so I used it to pay for my ticket. A page showing my name, the name of the movie, the time it started, and a confirmation number appeared on my computer screen. The instructions said to print a copy of it and take it to the theater as proof of my ticket purchase.

The parking lot already was full when I arrived at the theater a half-hour before the movie was scheduled to start, which I knew wasn’t a good sign. But, I thought smugly, I already had my ticket, so I wouldn’t have to stand in any long lines. I could just go right in and grab a good seat.

Chalk up another wrong assumption.

“You have to get a ticket for this,” the ticket taker said to me when I handed him my confirmation slip. “This isn’t a ticket, it’s an invoice.”

I looked over at the ticket line. It was so long, people were hanging out of the entrance door.  Groaning, I took my place at the end of the line…outside. As I stood there, I noticed that the majority of the people ahead of me were men. It made me wonder if they were playing hooky from work. It also made wonder if their wives knew where they were.

When I finally made it to the front of the line and gave my confirmation slip to the employee, she looked at it and said, “Oh, you have to enter your confirmation number in that machine over there.” She pointed to what looked like an ATM on the other side of the lobby. “It will give you your ticket.”

I glanced at my watch. The movie was starting in 15 minutes. I made a beeline for  the machine, but two other people beat me to it. The first man entered his number and apparently had trouble with it because he tried again…and again…and again. Finally, he gave up and walked off.

The next guy didn’t have any problem, so he quickly got his ticket, to my relief. I then got up to the machine and saw on the screen, “Please insert the credit card you used to purchase your ticket – for verification.”  I hadn’t used a credit card. I’d used a gift card…which was at home, on the coffee table.

So I tried entering just my confirmation number. Nothing happened. I tried again. Still nothing. Frustrated, I returned to the ticket line so I could ask the employee what to do.

“Oh…you used a gift card,” she said, frowning. “Well, try entering your confirmation number into the machine again. Only this time, don’t use the zero in front of it. That’s probably what you did wrong and why it wasn’t accepted.”

So back to the machine I went, muttering under my breath. I couldn’t help but wonder why the heck the employee couldn’t just have given me a ticket, seeing I had a confirmation slip. I mean, why did I have to keep dealing with a machine when there was a perfectly good human who could do the same thing a lot faster?

I entered my confirmation number into the machine – this time, without the zero. Then I waited for my ticket to pop out. It didn’t. I entered the number again. Still nothing. I checked my watch. The movie had started.

By then, I have to admit I wasn’t in the best of moods. In fact, at that moment, it would have given me great pleasure to set a match to my confirmation slip…and the ticket machine. I walked over to the ticket taker, who was holding back a huge line of people, all waiting to get into the next showing of “Star Wars” on a different screen.

“I can’t get my number to work in the machine,” I whined to him. “And the movie’s already started!  Can’t somebody help me?”

“Find the manager,” he said. “She’s the one with her hair in a bun.”

I rushed off, searching for a woman with a bun. I soon discovered that most of the female employees in the theater had their hair pulled back in either ponytails or buns. Just when I was getting tired of looking at the backs of women’s heads, I noticed a bun-haired woman near the popcorn machine. I ran over to her.

“Are you the manager?” I asked her.

She nodded.

I thrust my confirmation slip at her. “I can’t get this to work, and my movie has already started. I’ve been here for over a half-hour and I’m getting really, really frustrated.”

She eyed the slip and then said, “Well, let’s go over to the machine and see what we can do.”

She punched in my number and the machine immediately spit out my ticket. I felt like giving it a swift kick for cooperating for her, but not for me. She handed the ticket to me.

“Here you go,” she said.

I thanked her and took it, then looked at the line – once again out the door.

“My movie started 15 minutes ago,” I said. “If I have to wait in line with all of these people, I’ll miss half the movie.”

“I’ll take you to the front of the line,” she said.

I followed her and gave my ticket to the ticket taker.  I could feel the eyes of all of the people in line shooting daggers at me. If looks could have killed, I’m pretty sure I’d be in an urn sitting on someone’s mantel right now.

Finally, I got into the theater and grabbed a seat just as the movie’s opening credits were showing. I took a deep breath, relieved I’d apparently missed only the previews of coming attractions.

“Wait until you see the cool new droid in this movie!” the guy behind me said to his buddy. His voice was loud enough to be heard three rows away. “It’s called BB-8 and it’s carrying a secret map everybody’s looking for. This is the third time I’ve seen this movie! It’s really awesome!”

It’s a pity I didn’t bring Barbara with me.

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