Unfiltered Story #93675

, , | Unfiltered | September 11, 2017

[It’s late spring in north Texas, but school’s not yet let out so the theater I work for doesn’t have earlier hours for summer. This particular day is unseasonably mild, and so I’m not surprised to see a customer standing around about an hour before we open — our spot’s popular for people who walk around the strip mall for exercise.]

Customer, as I approach: “About time! When do you open?”

Me: *eyeing the clear hours on the door* Not until 11:30, sir, so another hour and change.

The customer grumbles, but I think nothing special of it — he might have confused us for another theater, which is pretty common. I unlock the door to enter, only for him to promptly push me aside and walk in.

Me: Sir? We’re not open yet. Please wait outside.

Customer: The door’s open, you’re open now.

Me: Sir, I opened it so I could enter. I was going to lock it after.

Customer: Well, you can’t. I’m here now. Get me some popcorn.

Me: We’re not open for over an hour, sir, and I haven’t even cooked the popcorn. Please wait outside. I’ll be happy to bring you some when it’s ready and I have money in my register.

Customer: You unlocked the door, you’re open. It’s your own fault you didn’t get here earlier and made popcorn, no excuses. Make me some now!

Me: I’m nearly 20 minutes early for my shift, and can’t even clock in until then. I have duties to perform before I can even begin to serve you. Please, wait outside.

Customer: This is horrible customer service! I demand my popcorn free!

Me: No. Now I’m going to begin my duties. Please let me, and I’ll be able to help you faster.

*At this point, the manager arrives*

Manager: [My name], why did you let a customer in early?

Me: I didn’t. He shoved his way in and won’t leave.

Customer: Your employee won’t serve me! I demand free popcorn and movie for the inconvenience!

Me: *aside* Look, he’s annoying as can be, and he’s interfering with my ability to get started. Is there any chance you can tell him to go, or should we call the cops?

Manager: Not really worth it. Just do your best to ignore him. *manager leaves for his office*

Customer: Hey! Hey you! What’s this movie about? *points to a movie poster for a popular film with an exceptionally evocative title and poster art*

Me: That’s an Oscar-bait film. Please, sir, I need to go in back to get some supplies.

Customer: What about this one? *points to the poster for an early summer blockbuster, part of arguably the most popular franchise in American history*

Me: *pausing* …that’s a space opera, sir. It’s [series title].

Customer: Never heard of it.

He continues to point at each film poster and demand details, occasionally also demanding to know whether I’ve somehow had time to go in back to get popcorn for popping yet, despite him not allowing me to leave.

At this point, the manager calls.

Manager: It’s ten until we open and you haven’t even started popping!

Me: I’m the only one in the lobby, and this customer refuses to let me go. Can you bring the popcorn?

Manager: I’m busy! You tell him to leave and come back.

Me: I’ve done that, remember? He won’t listen.

Manager: Tell him to leave or we won’t serve him!

Customer: Hey! Get off the phone, I need you to tell me about this movie! *points at a superhero film poster, whose trailer has been playing overhead off and on for half an hour* What is that about?

Me: I need to finish working, sir. I’m behind, but I’ll be more than happy to talk to you about any of these films *after we open*.

Customer: I can’t believe this! You’re so unprepared you open without food, you talk on the phone instead of dealing with me, and you treat me like an idiot who can’t read. If your attitude doesn’t improve, I’m walking out!

Me: You shoved your way in, and stayed even after I told you we weren’t open. I told you I needed to finish my opening tasks, and you demanded instead I summarize a dozen movies. I’m sorry, but in less than ten minutes, we finally open. I need to hurry, and I’m not going to be able to talk to you until I’m finished.

Customer: How dare you! *storms out just as the manager comes back, carrying the popcorn*

Manager: Wait! Come back! *frowns as the customer gets into his car and drives off* What did you do?

Me: …I finally got him to leave, just like you asked.

Manager: You shouldn’t have let him in.