A film fan explains why a multiplex customer assistant role is the last job cineastes should take.
Love interacting with people? Love film? Then this is NOT the job for you. The purpose of this article, in fact, is to deter anybody considering, even as a temporary engagement, a customer assistant role within a multiplex – that goes especially for those who have any interest in ever attending the cinema again. Having worked within such a role, it is my duty to alert any fellow cinephiles to steer clear of the soul sucking position.
You’ll spend your meagre free time dreading the environment you once loved so much. The place will never be the same again
First and foremost, there are no greater perks from working in such close quarters to the industry you love than there are in any other dead end job; if anything, it only carries negatives. For this is not the film industry, this is retail – the place where ambition goes to die. The only industry where the days are long and the months short, any chance of advancing yourself slipping away into nothingness before you can even realise.
The hours are short, but unholy – weekends? Evenings? Kiss goodbye to those beloved times of the week where one would normally choose to relax, you’re working. And the time in which you are free is spent dreading the environment you once loved so much. The place will never be the same again. And, once you’ve had enough and quit (and you will quit, unless you’re some deranged cenobite), even walking past a multiplex will send chills down your spine. This isn’t even due to the backwards-arse management or working hours, however – there are a plethora of reasons powerful enough to turn you away from the silver screen; one such being the customers.
As one of them, it’s something you never realise, but after watching the dregs of humanity litter into the screens you wonder how you were ever brave enough to grace those seats in the first place. Maybe the lights being low helped? Without a doubt the strangest anomaly of the average customer is, when choosing their seats, seeing a screen for the most part empty and choosing to sit next to the only other two people watching the film. You can’t help but feel for those who came earlier, sat comfortably, ready to enjoy themselves, only for the town nutter to come and slump down next to them. Location dependent, but you’re still playing Russian roulette with a couple hours of your life here.
Hygiene will become an issue that sticks to you, literally. You could lose shoes to those popcorn laden floors
On top of this, seeing ratty children whine over wanting to see the latest 3D yawnfest and the solemn faces of their parents as they dole out the outrageous £14 per ticket is a low point in any film lover’s life. The idea of sharing a darkened room with these rodents is shudder inducing. Speaking of rodents, one experience forever ingrained in this customer assistant’s memory is me, tearing into the kitchen after hearing a bone-chilling scream, only to see a cat-sized rat disappear into the ceiling and shake the very tiles above his head as it disappears into the building.
But it’s OK, management knows that keeping popcorn off the floor by three inches is enough to keep the critters at bay, because, you know, mice and rats can’t climb. Better that the audience doesn’t find out than actually try to solve the problem, right? (Oh wait, they do find out, in the middle of the BFI London Film Festival to boot.) Hygiene will become an issue that sticks to you, literally. Having almost lost shoes to the popcorn laden floors, to battle against such a sticky end doesn’t fill you with excitement. Even when the screen appears clean, it isn’t. You will grow a keen eye for popcorn fragments and no screen will ever meet an acceptable standard.
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If you are brave enough to bypass all of those issues, you’ll probably still be forced to see any decent parts of the film you were looking forward to watching anyway. Screen checks are an understandable duty, but it comes three times per film. Staring uncomfortably at customers through binoculars is awkward in itself, but to make things worse you get to witness the start, end, and heck, the middle, of that flick you had been avoiding trailers for so as not to spoil anything for yourself.
Your face becomes uniformly guilt ridden as you apologise to those in attendance when reading out their total transaction
At least you manage to retain/grow a sense of morality. You will find yourself laughing with the customers at how terrible the pricing is. Your face becomes uniformly guilt ridden as you apologise to at least half of those in attendance when reading to them their total transaction, and are then forced to void 9/10ths of their order back down to something close to reasonable (and thus throwing away enough food at the end of a shift to feed a third world country). The idea of having to fork out that much yourself feels like an insult to your own intelligence.
On a final note, at least one positive can be taken from taking a customer assistant role at a cinema: free tickets! Now all you need is the courage to ever enter that hell hole again. The allure of waiting for the Blu-ray release, or even a blurred bootlegged version, becomes a welcome alternative. But remember: “It’s the experience that counts!” Just make sure you don’t experience it from behind the scenes first, lest the multiplex become nothing short of a dreaded, stomach churning place of disappointment.
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Featured image: Seth M (via Flickr)