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Spreading holiday misery at the movies - Zach Porter

Christmas is a time for giving, compassion, and of course, good will towards men. Yeah right, maybe in the movies. But what about at the movies; a place where people flock en masse, that wonderful holiday spirit in tow, sitting side by side quietly to enjoy the magic of cinema? Nope, that doesn't happen either. Sorry.

Believe me, I know. I used to work at a movie theater. And yes, on Christmas Day too. If you have little faith in humanity as it is, I wouldn't recommend waiting on the general public at a movie theater on a major holiday. By the end of your shift you'll be begging for mercy from heaven above.

And on Christ's birthday it was not "Merry Christmas" that I heard from John Q. Moviewatcher, not even a "Season's Greeting", my friends. The greetings I was offered were more along the lines of: "Gimme sum'ur butter", or "Jeez guy, this popcorn has too much butter". The little old ladies would come out complaining about how loud the sound was in theater 6. And do I even have to tell you what the young teenyboppers came to complain about? Give yourself a round of applause if you guessed: "Hey dude, the sound is like way low, man!"

After each film was over I did receive a few good tidings from the audience such as gum stuck to the seats, popcorn thrown willy-nilly, and the occasional makeshift spittoon met by my nicely polished shoes. Now I know what you adults are thinking, "must have been those darn kids". Not so fast you forty-something do-gooders; the gig is up. I must now reveal the horrible truth! It was in fact the majority of the adults in the audience who thought they had a license to turn a movie house into a pig's pen. You see, the "theater brand" snacks they left behind gave them away. The punk kids snuck in two liter bottles of Coke and boxes of Domino's Pizza. I kid you not. How they did such things I can't reveal but suffice to say that everyone left a tell-tale trace behind; for every box of Sour Patch Kids, a poor lost soul.

Just as I had received no good will from my customers, they apparently had none for each other. I was trying to kill the boredom with fellow employees by swigging some slightly modified eggnog behind the concession counter, when a well-to-do white man walked out of theater 1 (right next to our concession counter for those of you who were not there) and demanded that the police be phoned. "It was just a little swig of the old holiday eggnog sir, no need to call the authorities", I was about to blurt out when he explained that a "black man" was, (gasp) "armed" in the back of the theater. When the white guy had asked Mr. Blackman to hush his kids up inside the theater, he replied that "He waz a gangsta", and "I'll shoot ya'".

Our manager promptly took the guy out of the theater and after the police arrived it was determined that the only thing this man had in his possession was two little kids, no firearms. But with one affluent white man's overreaction and subsequent statement to police, the poor man and his children were still kicked to the curb, movie unfinished, and tickets un-refunded. Who knows what was really said inside the theater, but if people can't spread some cheer and brotherly love on Christmas Day, then when else? And in a movie theater of all places, where all you have to do is sit there in silence and pay attention from the raising action to the d?nouement.

You might be interested to know that I would have given that man the "Best Customer of the Day" award had there been such a thing. Not only was he polite and a seemingly sweet father to his son and daughter, but he was one of those rare individuals who did not feel the need to complain about the price for refreshments (If I had a quarter for every time somebody wanted to be a comedian about the price of popcorn I wouldn't have to slave over this column for my lowly "take home" pay). Needless to say that "Gangsta" was not my first impression of the man and if my memory serves me, he may have actually wished me a Merry Christmas.

o if you take in a flick tomorrow, be nice and courteous to those around you. Say please and thank you to the people who are kindly waiting on you. Adopt a belief that miracles don't just happen on the silver screen and that you just might make it to the end credits without a crying baby or a Sour Patch Kid to the head. And some of you may want to make that News Year's resolution early and lay off that oily popcorn butter. You know who you are.

Zach Porter is a photographer for the News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 or zporter@news-daily.com