Meet My Mother, Karen

, , , | Right | October 17, 2019

(I work at a movie theater. It’s a premiere weekend, there is a flu outbreak so we’re short-staffed, and one of our popcorn machines has broken down, meaning our concessions lines are long and slow. A customer and her teenage daughter approach, and I can tell there’s going to be trouble. Before I can even say hello, the customer starts.)

Customer: “We have been waiting in line for twenty minutes! This is ridiculous; the wait should never be this long! What is the matter with this theater that the line is moving so slowly?”

Me: “Ma’am, I’m so sorry for your wait; we’re short-staffed tonight. What can I get you?”

(She orders, still very surly, and I move to gather her drinks and candy before stepping in line behind several of my coworkers at our one working popcorn machine. I can overhear the woman’s conversation with her daughter.)

Customer: “This is absolutely ridiculous. We’re going to miss the start of the movie!”

Daughter: “It’s okay. There will be a bunch of previews;  we’re not going to miss anything.”

Customer: “These workers are so lazy. If they got the lead out and picked up the pace a little bit, we wouldn’t have this long of a wait, anyway. Oh, I can’t believe it. I’ve been waiting to see this for months and now we’re going to miss the beginning.”

Daughter: “She said that they were short-staffed, and this place is mobbed. I’m sure she’s doing her best.”

Customer: “No, did you see the way she rolled her eyes at me? She’s doing it on purpose; she wants us to miss the start of our movie.”

Daughter: “Come on, Mom. It’s not like she knows we’re running late. No one’s doing it on purpose.”

(I approach with the popcorn at this moment and make sure to give my best customer-service smile. Again, before I get a chance to speak, the customer, already pushing her credit card into my hand, snaps at me.)

Customer: “You’ve made us miss the start of our movie. I hope you’re happy.”

Daughter: “Oh, my God, Mom, she’s not doing it on purpose! It’s a busy day, she said they were short-staffed, we’re the ones who were running late in the first place, and you’re being really impolite to her!”

(The customer turns bright red. For a second I worry she’s about to yell at her daughter, too, but all she does is gather up the food and take her card back when I hand it to her. She walks away as soon as I do, but the daughter lingers.)

Daughter: “I’m really sorry; she’s never like this. It’s been a really bad week, but you shouldn’t have to deal with this. I’m sorry.”

Me: “Oh, it’s okay! You don’t have to apologize–“

Daughter: “Yeah, but I wanted to. I hope your day gets better!”

(I really hope the daughter enjoyed the movie.)

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