200 Children Making Absolutely No Concession For You

, , , | Right | November 23, 2020

It’s not uncommon for schools or summer camps to rent out auditoriums at my theater to bring large groups in. We typically schedule these showtimes for earlier in the morning before we open so the groups don’t cause disruptions with other customers.

One day, we are scheduled to open at 10:30, and a school has booked two screenings for 8:30, with about 200 people total between students and teachers. This particular group has already paid ahead for everyone to have a kid’s meal pack that comes with popcorn, a drink, and candy, and have given us repeated guarantees that they won’t be ordering anything else.

I’m scheduled to come in at 7:00 am and I’m told to prepare all of the kids’ packs. No big deal. I spend over an hour popping corn and preparing the kids’ packs, which are all placed into warmers to keep the popcorn warm and fresh.

At around 8:15, the school shows up, and immediately, everyone lines up at the concession stand and begins to order other food items.

Lead Chaperone: “Why is it taking so long to get our food?”

Manager: “Since we were given repeated guarantees that you wouldn’t be getting any other food, this has caused a mad scramble, as nothing else is prepared but the popcorn.”

The lead chaperone flips her lid and screams at us.

Lead Chaperone: *Demanding* “Make the food for the kids!”

Our manager doesn’t want to escalate the situation. She tells me, the only other person there besides her:

Manager: “Just take the orders and I’ll help.”

Out of about 200 people, at least half order specialty food items like chicken fingers, fries, and mozzarella sticks that require extra time to make. None of the ovens or fryers are on at first since we aren’t supposed to be selling those foods at this time anyway, and they need to be warmed up.

Soon enough, there is a good twenty-plus-minute wait for some of the food, since my manager and I literally cannot make it quick enough to keep up with the demand while also contending with the line of 200 people who just appeared.

After a while, I glance over and see there’s now also a line of about a dozen or so elderly people at the box office register. I go over:

Me: “Excuse me, are you here with the group?”

Elderly Woman: *Screaming* “No! This is ridiculous! We have been waiting forever!”

They were merely early-birds who showed up at the theater, and one of the school kids let them in. I tried repeatedly to explain that we weren’t open yet, that we had a sign on the door with our hours, that I couldn’t sell them tickets as there was no money in the box office registers, etc.

They merely continued to yell at me and demanded to talk to my manager, who was busy helping the group. I told my manager and she headed over to explain again that we couldn’t sell them tickets.

Now, I was alone on concession, and I still had a good thirty or forty people in line while my manager was being chewed out by a gaggle of old people. We finally got the situation under control about fifteen minutes later, and the rest of the morning went smoothly.

And then, as a final kick to the gut… one of the chaperones blasted us in a feedback survey for “not being fast enough.”

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