The Man From Corporate
A man from corporate came into the theater today. I asked to see his ticket and he laughed in my face. “I guess I should let everyone with that excuse in” I said, which he didn’t seem to like.
He pointed to the concession stand and gave me a long speech about everything they were doing wrong. “They’re all out of popcorn,” he bawled, “This is a travesty! Do you have a storage tank somewhere?”
“I think so.”
“You THINK so?!”
“Well, the managers never showed me where it was.”
“For god’s sake, who trained you?”
“Yeah, he used to work in the ticket booth ‘till they fired him.”
“Well, good riddance.”
“You know, he said the same thing.”
“It doesn’t matter, look at that line! Look at it!”
He was right – the snack counter was mobbed.
“You go help them,” he said, “I’ll cover your post!” “But you’ll miss your movie!”
“THE MOVIE’S NOT IMPORTANT,” he cried.
When they close the theater that should be its epitaph: “AMC THEATERS – THE MOVIE’S NOT IMPORTANT.” The company had spent so much time obsessing over the extras that they’d run themselves a monopoly charge. Every time there was a new advancement they’d have to build a new theater, and each time it took the place of an old one. Soon it was the only game in town and Johnny Law took notice. Our theaters were being trust-busted.
I’d grown up seeing movies at this theater, so it hurt me especially. Every time I’d probe the halls it’d bring up memories. Not all of them were pleasant, but still, it was a part of me nonetheless. Now it was going to become another storage center thanks to the man from corporate and he was telling me to go get popcorn. I did, of course, but only because I didn’t want to lose my job.
After searching for a good 15 minutes I gave up and went to the roof to spark a jay. The man from corporate was still standing at the door, his movie now over an hour in. I didn’t really feel like relieving him.
The man from corporate was still there when I got back. Miraculously, the popcorn machine had been fixed and the line had dissipated. He congratulated me on a job well done, though couldn’t remember seeing me do a thing. I told him I was just that fast. Instead of leaving though, he just took off on another rant about the dangers of “under stocking.” It took me a good minute and a half to figure out he wasn’t talking about some kind of women’s apparel.
“Hey, you cut your hair!” a voice said from behind me. It came from a cute Latino girl barely tall enough to look over my plywood podium.
“What?” I asked, ignoring my lecturing boss.
“Your hair,” she said, “You cut it. I remember last time I was here I said you looked like Jesus Christ.”
“Oh! That’s right! You know, I kept a list of all the things people said I looked like while on the job, would you like to hear it?”
“Well, one guy said I looked like Elijah Wood.”
“I could see that.”
“You said I looked like the son of god.”
“Don’t let it go to your head!”
“And one guy told me I looked like the reverend Al Sharpton.”
“No joke, I think he must’ve been blind or something. Everyone knows I’m only black from the waist down.”
She giggled. All the while the man from corporate kept talking. “You remember that drawing I took from you?” she asked. I was drawing a blank. “It was this one,” she said, lifting up her shirtsleeve. There, inked on her shoulder, was Abe Lincoln downing a beer funnel. I’d drawn it while stoned on Fourth of July weekend. It was the only way to get through a shift like that.
“You got it tattooed?” I gasped.
“I told you it was good!”
“Wow, I don’t know what to say, that’s so . . . just wow . . . What’s your name?”
“Nice to meet you Rosa, I’m Vlad.”
“I know, I can tell by your nametag. I didn’t know how to pronounce it though.”
“It rhymes with glad or fad. There aren’t any tricks to it.”
“Nice and up front, I like that.”
“So what’re you doing after the show?”
“Why don’t you see me then and find out?”
“Because I might miss you in the flood of people.”
“Well then sweetheart, I guess you’ll need my number.”
After Rosa left I turned back to the man from corporate. He’d stopped lecturing and had gone quiet. “What can I say, I’m a minimum wage renaissance man” I laughed.
“Yeah, compliments are nice” he replied vacantly as he walked off towards his theater. His shoulders were slumped and he looked defeated. I had something that he’d never have, no matter how powerful he was on the corporate ladder.
His movie let out five minutes later and I saw him walking out with his family. His wife looked as though she’d been steadily letting herself go since the 1980s and his kids wouldn’t shut up. As he walked past I flashed him the piece of paper with Rosa’s number on it just to rub it in. He let out a sigh and went back to tending his screaming children. They were upset because they hadn’t gotten any popcorn. The movie wasn’t important to them.