Friday, October 4, 2013

Jobs: 3rd job

JOB: Westates Theatres, St. George, UT

About 2 years the first time, and 2ish years the 2nd time
Finally, we've made it to my first good job. I still have no idea how I made it in, since the entire city wanted to work here and I had exactly two 'jobs' to my name, one of which lasted for less than 8 hours, and the other one involved washing cars. But when you're hiring 16 year-olds, you take what you can get.
It was a snack bar job, and would prove to be one of the most important jobs I ever had, leading me to meet people who would turn out to be my entire social base for pretty much the next 10 years. I still remain good friends with several of the people I met here, in fact, a full 20 years later.
The job entailed selling people food from the snack bar as you rotated through each of the 5 other theatres in town in St. George, depending on where you were scheduled. The same company owned every theatre in town. Let's go through the list:
  • Cinemas 6: This started out as the Cinemas 3 and got a 3-theatre upgrade while I was working there. This was the newest and fanciest theatre in town, so it got all the big new releases and was the most consistently busy theatre by far.
  • Movies 3: This was a much older theatre up on the red hill in the industrial area of town. These were by far my favorite theatres. Everything was dark wood and dark carpet and the theatres had this terrific feel and smell and the ridiculous poster guy kept all the cool posters for the last 20 years here up in a secret room upstairs. The 3rd theatre here was apparently an add-on because it had a completely separate entrance than the other two. If working there, you would generally be left in complete solitude.
  • Dixie Theatre: A mirrored monstrosity downtown by the Tabernacle, this place had no A/C and had a terrifying projection room. More on this in a bit. It had apparently been an old play house because it had a big stage and a balcony. Just one screen.
  • Gaiety Theatre (later, The Electric): The 'twin' theatre to the Dixie, this was just one block away. Later, when I would return to Westates as a projectionist and eventually a manager, I would find myself stationed at both theatres and would go back and forth between them to keep them both going. Also just one screen, this, too, had no real A/C (it had a swamp cooler that blew room-temperature air) and had an unfortunate mirrored remodel. The projector here was about 750 years old.
  • Flood Street: This wasn't part of Westates right away but they quickly bought them and turned them into the dollar theatres. This was the newest of the theatres but was cheaply made and was in a strip mall by the Home Depot on Flood Street, so named because of a divot in the road that would flood every time it would rain. This was basically like showing movies to prisoners. No one but maniacs and vandals and troublemakers would almost ever arrive, and they would always cause some scene, and as a manger I had to call the police on several occasions to break up problems.
The job duties themselves were fine. I didn't mind selling food and drinks and popcorn, and I got good at doing basic math quickly in my head, as there were no functional cash registers to add things up for you. The cash registers were glorified cash boxes. In between shows you cleaned the snack bar and even had time to do homework for about 45 minutes or so, assuming you weren't goofing off with the Foster Twins or the Fackrell Twins or any other of my friends there.
We (OK, I) came up with a treat called the 'Suicide,' which was a 8-oz cup of popcorn that was sweetened directly with, oh, 1/4 a cup of popcorn butter and a full tablespoon of the concentrated butter salt that you added to the kettle to pop entire batches of popcorn. If you were eating cocoa, it would be like eating 3 cups worth. It caught on like wildfire and became very popular. To be young and invincible again.
Perk-wise, you got free drinks and all the popcorn you could ever hope for, and could occasionally take home damaged candy. The Butterfinger BB's were a popular item that, gosh darn it, always seemed to get mysteriously damaged.
One time there was a bat at the Movies 3. We spent the entire 'in-between' while the movie was playing throwing ice at it and trying to coax it down from the 2-story ceiling in the lobby. The very young ticket taker they had (I think he was literally like 11 years old and I think his name was David) fashioned a weapon out of a board with a bent nail in it, and was swinging it around. One of the girls said 'Don't hurt the sweet little bat!' but then it flew at her, David caught it like a pop fly, and spent about 5 minutes pulverizing it as if it had killed his father. The girl immediately switched to 'Hit it harder!! Kill it!' Also the brave guy who was making fun of us for our bat vigilante justice and boasted that he could take out the bat single-handedly hid sheepishly in he ticket booth when the bat started swooping at us. I think I laughed till I cried that entire night.
Another time when I was a manager there and my sister, Hillary, was a projectionist, I cut out a bunch of eyes from magazines and plastered them all over the extremely spooky projection booth at the Dixie theatre. That was up 3 rickety wooden flights of stairs, past a bizarre 'apartment' that apparently had either a real person or a ghost living in it, and ended up in a scary attic that had no walls and tons of boards together that had plaster oozing out between them. Anyway, I think I got a good scare out of my friends, the Fackrells, when they turned on the lights there. Oh, and the light for the projector booth was IN the projector booth, so if you left it you had to walk down 3 flights of stairs in the dark.
When I was managing at the Dixie, I would have to call my brother, Griffin, and talk to him on the portable phone (wireless phone? I can't remember what they called those) while I walked around the theatre to close up. It was a freaky place-the lobby was completely mirrored, and you had to walk through the entire building after the movie was done to ensure no one was left in the building before you locked up. I would often do this while jogging through the building as fast as I could.
I also recall laughing at my friend, Lisa, who was a ticket seller, when a customer asked her what Stargate was about (people constantly asked what various movies were about-a fact that boggled my mind at the time and still is funny to me) and she replied, in her standard "I don't have time for this" tone, "They go to another planet." That was it, that was the entire synopsis.
So many more stories. The philosophical manager guy with the beard who taught me about honesty and how it was 'all about being true to the face you shave in the mirror every morning' despite the fact that it would be like 3 more years before I would have to shave, the blowhard owner, Tony (Do you know who I am?!),  the cool boss, Tim, with the very dry sense of humor, the creepy poster guy, the free movies, the midnight shows, the reeking of popcorn every night after work, the bringing home entire garbage bags full of popcorn for my siblings all the time...and finally, my last boss, the 60-something befuddled Hugh, who fired me for posting a sign at the Dixie that said the theatre didn't have any A/C, which he felt was 'the worst salesmanship' he'd ever seen. This, of course, led to one of the most hilarious things ever-a voicemail Nate Fackrell left for my sister as Hugh, hitting on her and explaining that he fired me because I was an obstacle to them being together and business and pleasure 'don't mix.' Man that was funny. You had to be there, but still, I think of that about once a year and laugh myself silly. 
I had a great time at the theatres and made several friends and went on a few dates and consider it one of my best ever jobs. If I could return to any of my jobs and still support a family, I would love to go back provided everyone else I worked with would return too.
How to be social, how to be relatively normal, how to make friends, and how to make extremely unhealthy popcorn treats.

1 comment:

Hillary said...

We scared the crap out of Matt with those eyes at the Dixie. And I wish I had that tape of Nate's answering machine message. That was the single greatest message I ever received.