Hey, buddy, I PAID to be a jerk!

I read a lot of articles about movie theater experiences because, well, misery loves company.

I love the guy who thought of electric seat backs so that if someone behind you kicks the seat, they get fried. Or have you ever tried to sneak in your own snacks because you’re not paying $4 for a Reese’s? How about the fact that nobody seems to know how to work a projector anymore, so all that money you paid may be for nothing because the screen is off-center, blurry, or just plain not there?

I love to laugh along and commiserate, but I’ve been noticing a disturbing trend among these articles. Often, it’s because somebody is on their cell phone (seriously, if you’re expecting a call that important, why are you at the movies?!). Someone will try to shush that person because, well, shut up, that’s why! But the person on the cell phone will fire back, “I paid for my ticket, I can do whatever I want!”

Anybody else think individualism has gone too far?

This is all secondhand, I mean if I actually heard someone say this, I may break a commandment or two. Seriously? You paid ten bucks (if you’re attending the matinee), so you get to disturb everybody else’s experience just to heighten yours? Oi, where to begin?

One: This the movie theater, not your home. You don’t get to set the rules. Theater etiquette says to shut off your phone, so do it.

Two: Everybody else bought a ticket too, my friend. So, if you have the right to talk on your cell phone, they all have the right to ask you to shut it off, throw popcorn at you, or pick your sorry butt up and throw you out. Seriously, though, they all have the same right to a good experience as you do. Which leads me to…

Three: You only bought an  experience. If you owned the theater, or even that room itself, then yes, you could do what you want. But the only thing you actually purchased was the ability to see that movie, and guess what! It’s not a permanent thing! That ticket can be taken away and you can leave. But more importantly, everyone else paid for the experience, too, and they want to enjoy it, and you’re taking away that enjoyment by answering what I am forced to assume is an unimportant call. If it was an emergency, you’d probably leave. Don’t ruin everybody else’s experience just because you can’t be disciplined enough to disconnect from the world for two hours.

So, as with everything I write, I want to know what God says about the issue. Well, this one’s obvious. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39b).

All you have to do is turn the tables. You paid good money to get into that theater seat. The food is already overpriced, the floor is sticky, and the sound quality has only a 50% chance of being any good. Do you really want to dim the experience even further by having the person next to you blabbing on and on to their neighbor, their cell phone, or God forbid themselves? No, you want to see the movie! And if someone is talking over it, your experience is tarnished, and what if they refuse to shut up?

It’s called common courtesy and it’s a commodity these days. Everybody wants what’s most convenient for them, and they forget that the person next to them wants the exact same thing. Think about the people around you. Hang up the phone, whisper if you must talk to somebody, and for the love of everything, buy snacks that don’t come in a crinkly bag!

How can you show uncommon courtesy to make someone else experience better today?

2 thoughts on “Hey, buddy, I PAID to be a jerk!

  1. Honestly, I’ve pretty much stopped going to the movie theater – which is a shame, because I used to love it. But the last time I went was absolute ages ago, and I went to see a biopic which, inexplicably, was shown at such a ridiculously loud volume that I (a) wondered where I’d accidentally gone to a screening for the hearing-impaired and (b) actually – I kid you not – put my fingers into my ears intermittently throughout the movie. As to the cell phone offenders, those rat bastards deserve to be thrown out – sorry, no refunds – and/or have the cell phones *accidentally* mob-destroyed. OOOPS, better luck next time.


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