Thursday, January 04, 2007

Showdown At The Carmike Cinema Corral

Last week the whole DigitalRich crew- all six of us- along with my parents, went to see Charlotte’s Web. The film was moderately entertaining. I think the original animated version was much better, and of course neither could stand up to the book itself. There are many stories that can make the leap from books and comics to the big screen with CGI animation help- Spiderman, Batman, X-men and even Lord of the Rings. But a pig that mysteriously causes spider webs to appear and generates thousands of astonished visitors to a barn in the middle of nowhere? Not working.

The post-Christmas day cinema crowd was thick, and we had stopped by earlier to purchase tickets before running a few errands to make sure we didn’t arrive to find the show sold out. We could have used Fandango, but with 8 tickets to buy I just couldn’t stomach paying the extra money. Correct me if I’m wrong, but shouldn’t cinemas provide this service for free? Can you imagine calling Macaroni Grill for advance seating and having 20% added to your bill?

We got to the cinema about 20 minutes early, and headed straight for concessions. We didn’t have time to eat lunch, so the whole crew was starving, and popcorn was on the menu. The electronic sign indicating each show and location instructed everyone waiting for Charlotte’s Web to wait in the lobby. I knew getting 8 seats together might be a challenge, so I told Michelle we should go ahead in and get seats. She disagreed saying the sign told us otherwise, and the ticket guy wouldn’t let us in.

Knowing the ticket “guy” was probably a 15 year old kid that was preoccupied with thoughts of his new Sony Playstation 3 he got for Christmas, and probably not that much into policing the rules, I insisted we make a run for it. She didn’t agree, but begrudgingly followed me and the girls towards the ticket guy as we started our adventure. He took our tickets, ripped them in half, and pointed towards our theatre doors.

As we walked into the theatre, I looked at Michelle and winked- it was nearly half-full of other felons that had broken the law. I spotted an empty row, and escorted the family to a nice spot 2/3 up the slope. I then called my parents and told them to call my cell phone when they got to the theater and I would head out to the lobby with their tickets and bring them to our seats. That worked out great since when they called 5 minutes later the large popcorn was already gone and it was time for a free refill.

Shortly after the film started, a little girl sitting behind me started to talk. Then she talked more. Then louder. Her mom obviously had developed the ability to completely block out anything her girl said and seemed content as she watched the film. Then the little girl started kicking my chair, and then my girl A’s chair next to me. Then she started to hang her head over our chairs and touched our heads. Then she whined, talked some more, asked a few questions, and then started touching us again. After ten minutes of being “understanding”, and waiting for the girl’s parents to intervene, I had had enough.

I turned around in my seat and started staring at the mom. At first she didn’t see me- or most likely was ignoring me- but after a full minute or so she finally looked at me. I didn’t say anything. I just stayed completely turned around in my chair and stared at her while her daughter continued to torture my daughter. Finally the mom leaned over to her husband and whispered a few words, and then dad took the little girl out of the theater. They didn’t return.

Was I rude? I don’t think so. I didn’t say anything, didn’t belittle the parents or attack their parenting skills or techniques- I just made it clear that the behavior was unacceptable. It made the outing, especially with only a mediocre film, the best part of the day. Fun.

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Anonymous said...

I think you handled it very well. I don't know if I would have been so polite about it. You spent all that money to watch the movie and you deserve to . . . comfortably.

Thanks for sharing this with the Carnival of Family Life.

DigitalRich said...

Featured on the Carnival of Family Life #36:

Mary said...

I think you did the right thing. I try to be tolerant since I have ankle biters of my own, but once someone else's ankle biter starts tormenting yours... the gloves are off. I have a hard time believing that the parents didn't notice what was going on, they just didn't care. If you are so stressed out that you don't care to discipline your child in public, get a babysitter! then YOU can go see a movie YOU want, and everyone is happy, LOL! The seat kicking thing drives me nuts, I hate it that people don't stop their kids from doing that.

Here from the CFL.

Unknown said...

Agreed! I don't think that's rude at all to make the parent acknowledge the behaviour. Though getting the child to apologize and start to learn to take responsibility might have been a good move for the parent, too. But, hey, as long as the kicking stopped!

Here via CoFL.

Anonymous said...

I think you handled the situation perfectly. It is important for parents to acknowledge and correct their child's bad behavior in public, ignoring doesn't help anyone, especially the child.

Here via the carnival of family life.

Desert Songbird said...

Kudos to you on your tact in this situation. I'm sure my husband would not have been so polite; me, I don't know.

Here via CoFL.

Unknown said...

I know my husband wouldn't have been so polite. I think you handled it very well. Without saying a word, you got your point across.

Here from the Carnival of Life.

tiggerprr said...

I could go on a full on rant right along with you. I can't believe your composure! My hubby would have said something, and me, I'd have gone to get the manager. My stares never work. We have actually started sitting in the very last row, at least then the talkers are usually talking down away from you and there's no seat kickers.

DigitalRich said...

Thanks all for your comments. My actions have more to do with seeing what people will do when confronted kindly or in a calm manner (which happens rarely), versus either ignored (by martyrs who enjoy suffering when they could change things) or confronted meanly and emotionally (which kicks in the old defense mechanism and things spiral downwards).

So, it comes down to my curiosity and fascination with how people handle conflict versus my maturity or composure.