35 Things All Movie Theater Employees Understand

35 Things All Movie Theater Employees Understand

Those of us who work or have worked in a theater understand that the job is a unique one.


All jobs have their own pros and cons that make them unique. Working at a movie theater is an even more particular form of employment because it combines the experiences of retail, food service, and entertainment. Theaters are attended by people from all walks of life. From the children's birthday parties coming to see "Curious George" to the "Star Wars" fans dressed in costumes weeks after the movie's initial release, there's never a boring day at the movies, and anyone who's done their fair share of time in the fish bowl that is the box office, or what the janitorial staff so elegantly refers to as the "usher crew," will tell you that, while they've had their rough shifts, they've walked away with life experiences and a heck of a story collection.

Here are 35 things that all movie theater workers will relate to and have experienced more times than they can count.

1. Coming in for a shift and immediately getting hit with the all too familiar smell of popcorn.

For most people, this is something they look forward to when coming to the movies. For us employees, popcorn becomes something you eat only when you forget to bring your lunch. It's also a scent that, once in your clothes, is nearly impossible to get out.

2. And if it's burning, you're going to have a manager riding your back in concessions for the rest of the day.

A movie theater smelling like burnt popcorn is a big no no.

3. Sizing up your area's coworkers for the day to see if you'll be the one doing all the work, or if the one of the nice supervisors is in charge.

Am I going to get to go home early? Will I have to teach anyone how to use a broom and dustpan today?

4. Trying to hype yourself up with some friendly competition.

And getting a little bit too serious about the bucket selling contests.

5. Getting so good at upselling that you can convince one person to buy themselves enough concessions to feed a large family.

If you talk fast enough and speak in a tone that convinces the customer that they'd be missing out on life if they didn't make the purchase, then you can sell almost anything.

6. But even with your ridiculous salesmanship, there are the inevitable people who want a kid's size popcorn and a free water.

Are you trying to make my stats look bad and get me written up? Because that's what it feels like.

7. People who make special requests for unsalted popcorn.

And then give you an attitude when it takes time to cook a batch of it.

8. Or worse, when people ask for it during a rush or only buy a small.

While I'm at it, can I get you a lobster tail and a glass of wine?

9. Disbelief in the freshness of the popcorn.

Just because you weren't here to see it being made doesn't mean it's been sitting out all day.

10. Trying to open the popcorn bags without ripping them.

There's an art to being able to gracefully flick open a popcorn bag. It's all in the wrist.

11. Encountering customers who stand in one of the lines that's closed and are oblivious to your open lane.

I've been waving at you trying to get your attention for way longer than I should have to.

12. Despite the numerous signs and placards directing people towards the concession stand for tickets, there will always be a handful of people who are convinced the theater is closed if the box office is closed.

I consider myself a fairly patient person, but my tolerance for blatant stupidity is tested when I'm asked for the umpteenth time if we're still open when there are literally signs everywhere.

13. Customers who blame the part time, minimum wage nobodies for the prices.

Look ma'am, I'm just here so I can make enough money to put gas in my car. If you want to discuss costs, there are about 50 people above me until you reach someone who actually has control over the prices.

14. People who wear huge jackets or purses and expect employees not to suspect anything.

Odds are, you've probably never fooled an employee with your food sneaking methods, we just didn't want to deal with the issue that day.

15. Forgetting to bring food from home and having to shell out half the day's salary just to buy a snack.

What's worse is that you've been making food for other people all day, and now, in order to have it, you have to spend money you just earned.

16. The microphones in the box office not working on a busy day.

You'd like a ticket to what? "Fifty Shades of Grey? Oh, "Inside Out"? My bad.

17. Or when the ticket window creates a draft and money comes flying out.

Funny story, this once happened to me with a man's credit card and it fell between a crack in the register. We had to take apart the counter with tools and it took us three hours to get it out.

18. People who try to get around the R-rated movie rules in every way possible

It doesn't matter that you think your son in middle school is old enough to see "The Wolf of Wall Street", it's against policy. No, you can't buy him the ticket and leave, no, you can't buy him the ticket and go see another movie, no, you can't let his 17-year-old sister take him. Yeah, censorship isn't the greatest thing in the world, but look at it this way, letting your kid see films meant for adults means that he's going to learn about controversial topics from Hollywood, not from you.

19. Keeping an eye on those high school students who bought tickets for a children's movie playing in the theater next to an R-rated movie.

Three freshmen buying tickets to "Kung Fu Panda" when "Paranormal Activity" is on next door is a red flag. Especially on slower nights, we're just itching to throw kids out of the theater for sneaking into movies.

20. Receiving phone calls asking for movie times.

There are websites, apps, newsletters and even articles in the newspaper with the week's movie times. And I guarantee that the people who call and ask are the same ones that will complain if I have to take a call before assisting them at the theater.

21. Having to go back and void tickets when a customer realized they asked for the wrong movie time or ticket type.

It's a lot more complicated than just a simple swap. For documentation reasons, it requires running the voided tickets through the system and often getting a manager to approve the transaction. It takes more time to fix than it would've taken for the customer to pause and make sure they knew what they wanted. And if you forgot to show your student I.D., please just accept the lost dollar and move on with your life.

22. Wondering just how hard the phrase "sold out" is to understand.

You are not the only person who wants to see this movie, as a matter of fact, many people want to see this movie and decided to show up earlier than you. I honestly don't know how to make that more clear.

23. People who complain about their movie going experience and ask for a refund after watching the whole thing.

If the little kid in the row behind you was really that distracting, then why didn't you come say something during the movie to get it resolved?

24. Getting assigned the challenge of setting up movie standees.

How on earth am I supposed to put this together?

25. Encountering people whose minds are blown by 3D technology.

Watching a grown adult try to reach out and touch Spiderman never ceases to be funny.

26. Or people who consider the glasses a fashion statement and wear them from entry to exit.

Although I am from the age of kids who would punch the lens out and wear the frames to school.

27. Watching a person leave a trail of popcorn behind them with no regards to their surroundings.

Contrary to your belief, I am not your personal janitor. Plus, that's super wasteful. You and I both know that popcorn is not cheap. I'm reminded of it every day by customers.

28. Cleaning a theater that looks as if animals rampaged it.

Did they eat any of the food they bought? Because by the looks of it, the entire contents of their bucket was left on the floor.

29. Finding empty bottles of alcohol under the seats when sweeping.

There are movie theaters you can go to that serve you alcohol, you know that right? Then you wouldn't have to drink lukewarm beer while on your "romantic" night out.

30. Being asked by a higher-up to crawl under a row to search for a lost item.

Do they have any idea what lives down there?

31. Coming across the dreaded pool of vomit.

Even the thought of having to clean up someone else's throw is enough to make many people sick. But it's part of the job description to get down and dirt, and it while it's absolutely miserable in the moment, it makes for a great story later.

32. Observing the awkwardness of first dates.

Being such a popular date site, movie theaters are never short on people watching material.

33. Observing the awkwardness of non-first dates.

If all you're going to do is make out, then maybe you should have a Redbox and microwave popcorn night in. You also make the rest of us feel bad about our single and lonesome lives.

34. Addressing complaints of loud patrons in the theater.

They are usually drunk. But to be fair, that might be the only way to make it through "Fantastic Four."

35. Minions.

Screw those stupid yellow things.

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