Monday, February 19, 2007

Bad Movie Experience
I just got back from a pretty disastrous trip to the movies, thanks to the good folks at Regal Cinemas Ballston Commons 12. I know that expecting to see a movie at 2:10 on a holiday is a bad idea, but we thought we'd give it a try. We made it to Ballston Commons at about 1:50, which I knew was a little risky. We would have had no problem getting a ticket if theater management had an amount of ticket sellers that you would expect to have in the middle of a holiday, at a complex with 12 theaters. I'm no expert in these things, but I think this amount is a number higher than one. This feeling was confirmed by the 40 people in line. We usually go to Regal Cinemas Potomac Yard, where you can buy a ticket from an ATM-like machine, that you see as soon as you walk into the building. As we stood in line, it dawned on me that, since it was the same chain, it would make sense that there'd be such a machine here. My girlfriend held our spot in line, and I looked around. I found two machines, tucked around a corner. I would have felt stupid about not finding them sooner, but there were only two people in line (one of the machines didn't work), so I guess we were all stupid. Everybody has ATM cards now, so the only reason to explain the shortness of the line was that people didn't know the machine was there. Which worked out fine for me.

So my girlfriend left the line, and joined me at the machine, and we bought our tickets. The ticket taker very cheerfully took our tickets and said something completely unintelligible. We got in one of the two lines for concessions. Which barely moved at all. I noticed some anger at the front of the line, and I also noticed that people weren't walking away with popcorn. There were about six people working behind the concession counter, including a guy who was apparently some kind of manager who kept speaking into a microphone that was clipped onto his shirt. Clearly he thought that what he was saying into the mike was going straight into someone's ear, and not being broadcast to everyone in the concession area, which it was. Pretty humorously, I might add. I hope he took that off when he went to the bathroom.

As we got closer to the front of the line, more people were realizing there was a popcorn problem. The guy with the mike was asked when popcorn would be available. "When the machine heats up," he not so helpfully responded.

This was kind of a key issue, because people waiting in line for popcorn were wasting their time, and missing the beginning of their movies. Not exactly the perfect movie experience. A woman in a fur coat halfway down the line loudly asked if popcorn was available. "Not yet," said the manager. "Then why don't you make an announcement, so people know that before they wait in line." "I just did," he muttered, still not realizing that everyone could hear him. Then he instructed someone else to make such an announcement. "People waiting for something besides popcorn should step to the front of the line," the announcement-maker shouted, to the confusion of everyone standing in line. By this time, though, I was at the front of the line.

I ordered two nacho combos. They seemed to have nachos, and they seemed to have sodas, although it took about five minutes to retrieve both. I asked for peppers for the nachos, and was told they didn't have them. Which was the last straw for my girlfriend, who, $22 into my two nacho combo commitment, told me that she didn't want nachos without peppers, and then walked away from the line. Which left me at the front of the line, with two hands and two huge sodas and two nachos to carry, seriously rethinking why I even got out of bed this morning. Well, actually, one nachos, as I just left hers on the counter and mumbled something to the cashier. I balanced my nachos on the two cokes (which was impressive to some of the folks behind me in line) and caught up with my girlfriend, who had calmed down and took pity on me, and relieved me of a soda, spill-free.

At this point it was 2:25. We'd be sitting in the first row, I was guessing. As we walked into the movie theater, I prayed a quick one to the god of excessive movie previews. Amazingly, the theater wasn't crowded, which I attribute to the facts that most everybody was still in line, and that, well, word was out about Norbit. So we got a seat. And the movie hadn't started yet. After that, things went as well as could be expected. Thankfully (kind of), Norbit's the kind of movie that you don't have to worry about the plot getting too complicated, which I appreciated an hour into the movie as I leisurely headed out of the theater to check the popcorn situation. Plenty of corn, no lines.

Norbit actually gets better towards the end. Tadcranky says "The pimps are pretty funny in the wedding scene," is what they could put in the ad, if anyone really cared what I thought. You still kind of wonder what Eddie Murray is thinking, with all these movies where he doesn't look like Eddie Murray. As we left the complex, everyone else was turning their cell phones back on as I took my brain out of my pocket and stuck it back in my head. I noticed that there were four people working the ticket sales windows. And nobody in line...

No comments: