This summer I decided I needed to take on another job, so I started working at the local movie theater. It's been an experience, to say the least.
The coworkers became an immediate family, and I now have the perks of free movies, popcorn and drinks, as well as employee showings. The job, while not hard, is draining. Between the customers, long hours, late nights, and unpredictable schedules, the job can leave a lot to be desired.
At the end of the day, though, working at a movie theater has been a trip that's taught me a lot about the disgusting side of humanity, customer service and the endless pursuit of patience. You certainly learn to enjoy the little things.
As a customer, you may wonder what it's like to work at the theater. Many have asked me how I like the job. I think that anyone who has worked at a theater can attest to the fact that if customers followed these 15 rules of movie theater etiquette, the experience would be 100% more enjoyable for everyone.
1. Employees don't make the rules.Giphy
We don't make the rules, so please don't use us as your personal punching bag when you don't like what we have to tell you.
2. It isn't the usher's job to clean up after you.Giphy
Sure, they get paid to clean up anything left behind because the janitorial staff doesn't come in until the end of the day. However, they aren't your mother. If you drop trash on the ground, it takes only a second to pick it up. The more trash that's left behind means more waiting time for the next movie. It's just common courtesy.
3. You only make everyone's life harder when you try to sneak into movies.Giphy
First off, how is that movie you're going to such great lengths to sneak into worth the effort?
Second, you make everyone's life harder by doing this. Time is wasted when we have to card everyone who looks young enough to ID. No, I didn't personally care about whether or not you get to see this movie, but now, after being cussed out and yelled at 20+ times tonight, I will make sure you don't get in.
4. If you drop something, pick it up.Giphy
This ties into point number two. Too many times, I've seen customers drop popcorn, trash or make a mess. Accidents happen, but these people will look at me, look at the floor, look back at me and step right over the mess they've made.
My favorite people are those who apologize and attempt to clean up after themselves. That's being considerate.
Pro tip: Using the trays we have laid out for your convenience (and ours) will save you money. When you leave a trail of popcorn all the way to the movie, you lose money—and we lose time.
5. Be accountable for your children.Giphy
I cannot stress this one enough. We've had parents leave children as young as five or six in the restroom by themselves and go back to their movie without them. The poor child ends up in tears because they don't remember which theater they were in. Staff then has to spend minutes to an hour looking for this child's parent.
Do not get mad at the staff if they lose track of your child; that's your job.
6. If your child is loud, remove them from the theater.Giphy
Honestly, children under the age of six shouldn't be taken to the movies. When they're old enough to understand how to respect the movie-going experience and sit still for two hours, then bring them in.
If your child can't sit still or be quiet in the middle of a movie, take them out.
You can't really get mad when people complain; in fact, you should expect complaints.
7. Don't give the ushers attitude.Giphy
Yes, we live in a world that thinks the customer is always right, but we all know that's not the case. That sign on the door when you walk in telling you to stay off your cell phone is the first warning. The commercial playing before the trailer before your movie is your second warning. If we ask you to stay off your phone, that's your third. After that, we are required to tell you to leave.
Our job is to prioritize the customer experience, and if you are on your phone or allowing your child to disrupt the movie, then please respect our position. You aren't at home. You can't do whatever you want during the movie; this is a public space that everyone needs to respect.
8. Don't ask the ticketers to remember you.Giphy
Ticketers can see hundreds of people per day. There is only so much we can remember. I personally try to accommodate and remember the customers who request it, but I'm not a machine.
9. Save your story for the manager.Giphy
Employees have no power or authority to do anything about your complaint in the theater. If there's a problem, try not to take your anger out on the staff. Chances are, it's not our fault, but the other customer you're complaining about. It's stressful on us, and it's not fair for you to put that on anyone else.
10. Pay attention to directions.
Staff is required to give you directions—after all, we don't want you going into the wrong movie (and you don't either)!
I can't tell you the number of times I've told people to go to the first door on the left and they go to the second door on the right. They blame me before realizing the mistake was on their end. I get it, it's so easy to mix up directions, but don't blame the person giving you the directions if they gave them to you correctly.
11. If you can, tip your concession workers.Giphy
I can't speak for other establishments, but at ours, concession workers are required to memorize the prices on all concession foods and drinks. They don't have a chart or anything to reference. There have been too many occasions where they get a $50+ order with no tip. These people are getting paid minimum wage to go above and beyond for you; it would make their day if you tipped them.
12. Respect the public bathroom.Giphy
I can't even believe this has to be said, but for the love of God: Do not let your child spread their "work" around the bathroom. Staff gets paid minimum wage; that's definitely not enough money to be cleaning up after anyone else's crap—literally.
13. Read the signs.Giphy
Please. They're everywhere. If the sign says "Recycling: Water bottles only," that doesn't mean put your trash in there. To take this a step further, show some consideration for our job.
We had one concession worker who spent close to two hours organizing nacho chip boxes to sell to customers. She came off from break to find someone had thrown their trash over the concession counter into her box. They had to throw out the entire box and redo them.
14. Staring us down won't make things happen any faster.Giphy
I totally understand being excited to see your movie—I love the movies as much as the next person! Maybe just don't stare the ticketers down as you wait to go in. It makes us uncomfortable and we can't do anything until the ushers tell us the theater is ready for seating. Just remember to keep your theater clean for the next group who wants to go in quickly.
15. We love it when you say "you too."Giphy
To end on a positive note: When we tell you to enjoy your movie, please don't get embarrassed when you say "You too." We love it! We love it when you make conversation with us and show understanding when things go awry. We love it when you remember we're people just like you. We love to see how excited you get for your movie and how happy your children are to be here.
How can't we? We love the movies just as much as you.