It’s Not Projected To Be A Good Afternoon

, , , , , | | Working | May 18, 2018

(In high school, my friend and I have a Monday off of school and want to catch a matinee showing of a movie. We catch this particular film close to the end of its theater run, and since it is a weekday afternoon, there are only a couple of other people in the theater. About halfway through the movie, the screen suddenly darkens, then starts to brown in the middle, before very obvious bubbles appear and the picture disintegrates. We turn up to the projection window and see smoke in the projector room, so my friend and I rush out to find an employee. The first person we see in a theater uniform grabs my friend’s arm:)

Employee: *demanding* “Are you trying to sneak into [R-Rated Movie]?!”

Me: “What? No! It looks like our projector might be on fire.”

Employee: “Return to your theater until I’ve checked on it.”

(This is presumably because he thinks this is a ploy to throw him off our theater-jumping trail. We go back to our theater, and eventually see someone moving about in the projector room, which is now more visibly smoky. The other three or four moviegoers in the theater are milling about in confusion. After a minute, the lights in the theater snap on to full brightness, but no one comes to tell us what is going on, offer us refunds, or tell us to evacuate, and no fire alarm goes off. We all trickle out of the theater, looking for an employee in the mostly deserted building, and finally find a different employee restocking in the concession stand.)

Me: “Hey, I guess the projector in our theater is down, but we only got to see about half the movie. Since it’s showing in a second theater, could we just go in there and watch the end?”

Employee: “You paid for one ticket; you get one movie.”

Friend: “We only want to watch one movie. That one started about an hour after ours, so it’s probably pretty close to when ours caught on fire.”

(The employee eyes us like we are trying to pull some kind of scam, even though the other moviegoers have gathered behind us and are chiming in in agreement.)

Employee: “If there was a fire in this theater, I think I would know about it.”

(After a couple more failed attempts to get her to find the guy who’d originally checked on the projector, or to go check it out herself, my friend and I just exchanged an incredulous look and left. We figured if they wouldn’t even let us finish the movie we’d started, we weren’t likely to get a refund. That was one of only two theaters in our town, but we never went back, and I saw they’d gone out of business when I visited home from college a couple of years later.)

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