Tales from the front (of the queue).


I got to stay at work late last night. I’m trying to make it sound like a privilege, but I didn’t have a helluva lot of choice in the matter, unless I wanted the staff to despise me. We have a particularly busy film on this week, a film that attracts non-regulars by the many, many hundreds, most of whom, apparently, are incredibly hungry too. So last night, we ran out of popcorn.

Nothing really could be done to avoid the situation; the staff had pre-popped dozens of bags and put them in our warming drawers, filled up the machine as much as they could, and popped throughout our selling cycle, but when (at least) every other person orders a Large (or, in many cases, multiple larges), that supply runs down fast. So for four minutes at a time (while a batch is popping), the machine has nothing but a few crumbs, yet people looked into the empty machine, then asked for more large popcorns. The queue was, for half an hour, trailing into the auditorium and down the aisle. Even making announcements to ask anyone NOT buying popcorn go straight to the front of the line didn’t help; the result was generally one person saying ‘I don’t want popcorn!’ against a wall of fifty blank faces.

It’s a credit to my staff that no one screamed at or punched anyone, really, because there’s nothing like feeling helpless against a sea of hungry patrons to make the bile rise. It’s probably a bit like working in a Target on Black Friday.

It’s also a credit to the extremely hungry patrons, and everyone else waiting patiently in their seats, that no one came out to complain about the movie starting more than 15 minutes late either.

I guess, most of all, it’s a credit to our popcorn that so many people demanded it, and in such quantity. It’s flattering. Our popcorn is well-known for being awesome. In the end, though, I don’t want to ask the cleaning crew how many of those bags were left half-empty at the end of the presentation or I might actually turn into the Hulk. Or at least cry “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!” over and over again until the end of time.


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