The movie theater employee grapevine traveled faster than the speed of light. If something was known, or supposedly known, then you heard about it and you talked about it. Even if it wasn’t on purpose, sometimes you let it slip, unveiling a valuable piece of information that would be passed on to the other one hundred employees and probably the managers as well. The only way to get through the eight-hour shifts was to talk, whether the gossip was true or false. Could you imagine going eight hours with just being able to talk to the customers, who barely even know what they’re doing there themselves? Believe it or not, many customers come to the establishment having no clue about what’s playing, what day it is or even what year it is. I had a customer call and tell me that he just went to the Kings Plaza theater last week. Either he’s mastered time traveling, which I highly doubt, or is just plain stupid. Although I had countless conversations with my co-workers, one person happened to stand out to me since my first shift.
On the first day of work, he found me dumbfoundedly standing in the hallway between the bathroom and the concession stand. The door was between the time clock and me, and I was nervously fidgeting with the door, only to realize I didn’t know what the passcode was. My intelligent self-decided to lightly knock on the door, which no one would hear anyway since it was the middle of a rush on a Saturday afternoon. Luckily, another worker was walking down the hallway through the sea of people and although I didn’t know him, I acted like he was a long-lost childhood best friend back from Arizona who had come to rescue me. The relief was indescribable. There weren't fireworks or any type of romantic fantasy feeling from first sight, but for some reason, it was comforting to have someone open the door when no one else would.
A couple of shifts later, we found ourselves working together again. This particular day. the district manager paid the theater his monthly visit, so when there was down time we had to look busy “or else.”
We were folding boxes so people could hold their large sugary drinks and tubs of popcorn (that were to be eventually drowned in butter, only to be used for a “free refill” months, even years later). I distinctly remember refilling a "Twilight" tub in 2015. The day went on, as usual, the lines built up and were torn down, and just as I was about to leave, I jokingly decided to put my fist out to him for a fist bump. This was amusing only because the movie theater management team was all about fist-bumping as part of building morale, so I thought it would be funny to mock the seriousness of the fist pound. My plan backfired on me when I went out for the fist bump, and he went for a high five, only to grab my fist and shake it awkwardly while smiling.
We were not a predicted couple, that’s for sure. I didn’t even see it coming, but thank god it happened. Dating a co-worker wasn’t the expected stressor. In this laid back environment, everyone knew and we didn’t mind. There was no law forbidding us from dating; we weren’t Romeo and Juliet. Other co-workers warned us about going public, but the attention wasn’t something we cared about. There were girls who were tossed around like a salad in this place, so having a normal, exciting dating experience was the equivalent of gaining a big mushroom size up in "Mario Party."
It was pleasant to date someone you worked with; you always had someone to talk to, someone to walk you home and someone who could carry the bag of kernels to you while you were popping because lifting that bag was no joke. There were times where you wanted to hold hands when you weren’t supposed to or kiss when you couldn’t (even though sometimes we did; I know, very rebellious). This is probably why dating in the workplace was frowned upon, but it didn’t make us less productive workers. In fact, we were always smiling and serving efficiently, which made the bosses happy. My favorite memory of dating my co-worker was not the forbidden kisses, the butterflies in my stomach, the flowers or the dates, but one time when I received a phone call by one of the managers on an unexpectedly busy day at the theater, and they asked, “Would Sean like to come in too?” My response was, “Who?”