I May Have Too Much Respect for Movie Theater Ticket Stub Rules

You know how at the movies, you’re supposed to hold onto your ticket stub? That way if you go to the lobby, you flash your stub and get back in. I worked at a movie theater for five years, so I have more respect for the ticket re-admittance policy than most people. This manifested itself the other night in a borderline insane way.

We’re at a showing of Star Trek Beyond. I get up to get a re-fill on our large tub of popcorn. Quick sidebar here: if you get popcorn at the movies, you gotta go with the tub. Since concessions prices are so high you’d think it would make the most sense to get a small, and you’d be wrong. You’re paying an arm and a leg anyway, you may as well spring for the extra $2 and get unlimited popcorn. From a value perspective, it’s large tubs all the way. Even if you only want the amount offered in the small, so what? Get the large and give whatever you don’t want to the people around you. You’ll be the Robin Hood of your local theater. In fact I’ll go a step farther: people who get the small are selfish pricks.

So I go to the lobby to fill up my value tub. Walking back, I realize I lost my ticket. I get legitimately nervous. After rifling through my pockets, I sheepishly approach the girl ripping tickets at the door. With my most deferential, hat-in-hand tone, I planned this whole sob story: “I already came through, and I’m sorry, and could I please go back to my seat, and I’m really sorry. I can pay you money. I’ll help you move some time if you need it. Anything you need. Please let me back in and don’t arrest me.”

As soon as she heard, “I already came through,” she said, “Oh you’re okay,” and waved me in. 

Cut to 30 minutes later. I have to go to the bathroom. On my way there I notice two ticket stubs somebody had dropped for The Secret Life of Pets on the ground. So I, still fearing someone will question me, pick them up.

I don’t know if it was my strict adherence to theater policies ingrained into my conscience from years of enforcing it, but for some reason I felt the need to get my hands on a stub, even if it meant getting someone else’s off the floor. There’s a number of reasons why, in retrospect, this was insane:

  • The bathroom was right across from the theater and I wasn’t getting another popcorn refill. I had no reason to go back out to the lobby and therefore no reason to prove I’d bought a ticket.
  • Even if I did need to go back out, the disinterested teen doorwoman couldn’t have given less of a shit whether I had a ticket or not. I could have walked up to her and said, “Oh hey I’m sneaking in, I have no plans to pay,” and she wouldn’t care. By the way, the disinterested teen thing isn’t a knock. Having done that job, strong disinterest is the correct human response.
  • I picked up BOTH of the stray stubs. One so I’d have a stub, then the second so I’d have a backup stub in case I lost the first replacement stub.
  • Now to the biggest elephant in the room: I was picking up someone else’s garbage. I had no idea who the ticket had belonged to. Could’ve been a Zika patient for all I know. Could you imagine if I’d died for THAT? I get sick and go to the hospital. My girlfriend, family and friends are all a crowded around my deathbed crying. The last thing I’m able to whisper is, “They…wouldn’t…re-admit…me…without one…it’s…theater….POLICYYYYY…” then I flatline. The doctor comes in and says, “I’m sorry, he’s gone. Cause of death: complications from being way too respectful of the rules at the movies.”
  • I’ve been going to movies for my whole life. I’ve been asked to produce a ticket stub maybe four times. Who did I think was coming around, the Gestapo? Like some Nazi stormtrooper’s going to burst in during the movie: “Your papers, sir?” This is the Astoria Regal Cinemas, not the zeppelin from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Let’s just hope no one from one of the big movie theater chains sees this and starts cracking down on enforcing the stub rules. Let’s keep the stormtroopers on the screen, not in the aisles.

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