I can’t be the only one, can I?
I’ve been working at movie theatres for over 15 years now, and I have been managing them for almost all of those years. In that time I have helped millions of people watch a movie. It’s a pretty thankless job; poor pay, meager benefits, awful hours and people scream at you on an almost daily basis. But hey, free movies! But I’ve stayed in this thankless job for years because I love it, unquestionably and unconditionally.
Sure, there are aspects of the job that aren’t great. I don’t like being hit, or screamed at or have bottles of water thrown at me. I don’t like cleaning up feces, cum or vomit. I don’t like pulling used tampons out of toilet bowls, snaking drains or crawling on my hands and knees looking for your kid’s lost wallet. I don’t like that I have ruined thousands of dollars’ worth of clothing, or that I need to buy new shoes every three months because I already blew out my last pair.
I don’t like the lack of sleep, the variable hours, the continually sore back and ankles or never seeing my friends and family because I’m busiest when the rest of the country has time off. I don’t like any of these things, but I roll with them because they are part of the price of dealing with quite literally hundreds of thousands of people coming through the doors every year.
I deal with these things, because I love this industry. Every weird little quirk and tic that accompanies working in film exhibition is something I long ago decided is simply the price of doing a job I love. Is that crazy? I don’t know, probably, but I really don’t care.
What I do care about is not getting shot.
The theatre I work at is remarkably well protected. We have off-duty police officers work as security, there is a city police satellite office one floor below us that is always staffed, we have alarms on our exit doors in each auditorium and we perform bag checks when people come to our theatre. Part of the reason we have this extra security is because we serve alcohol at our theatre. Some of these were added because of the shooting in Aurora, CO. But there is a caveat to my initial statement that led off this paragraph; we are remarkably well protected, for a movie theatre.
Movie theatres by nature are not exactly fortresses. They can house large amounts of people, and in the case of an emergency, all of those people may need to leave very quickly. Thus there are exits all over the place, multiple in each auditorium as well as to the lobby and to the exit hallways and so on and so forth. Exits often used by High School kids to sneak their friends into movies. That’s how damn easy it is to get into a theatre.
A lot of talk over the weekend mentioned adding metal detectors to movie theatres to help prevent shootings from happening. As has also been mentioned, plenty of theatres (often in “urban” neighborhoods) already have metal detectors. Studios and exhibitors tend to not be a fan of them because it detracts from the “experience” of going to the movies. “You go to the movies to escape from your troubles, not be reminded of it” they say.
I’m not a fan of them because the belief that metal detectors are a panacea allows for the avoidance of a dialogue on the much greater problems that need fixing. Metal detectors do not protect me from getting shot while working. They don’t protect my staff or my customers and they do not protect you. That point can’t be repeated enough. If someone wants to shoot you, a metal detector will not stop them.
I’m tired of the rhetoric that keeps getting thrown out when these incidents happen. I’m tired of everything being swept under the rug a week later. I’m tired of hearing how it can’t change. I’m tired of hearing how the NRA can’t be stopped. I’m tired of hearing how we don’t have a problem.
We have a gun problem in this country. We have a problem with giving proper care to people with mental health issues. We have a race problem. We have an economic inequality problem. We have a law enforcement problem. And I could keep going; all of these things are contributing to this epidemic of violent mass shootings that happen over and over and over. Each time we’re shocked. Each time we’re outraged. Each time we’re content to do absolutely nothing.
I don’t want to be shot. I don’t feel like I’m asking for much. But too many of us seem to think otherwise.