The other night my wife and I took our two daughters to see a movie. We saw The Croods (in 3D because, yeah baby, that’s how I roll…) and it was hilarious, despite the fact that the entire family-night experience was nearly ruined by the fact that I wasn’t allowed to have popcorn.
First, let me tell you I’m not a big movie-goer. There are precious few movies I can think of (and, off the top of my head, I can’t think of any) that compel me to drop fifteen bucks per ticket to see on the big screen. I hate feeling like a robbery victim every time I leave the snack counter after being sodomized for another twelve bucks per person for a flat soda and stale popcorn topped with “I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-chemical-butter” substitute, and then entering a theatre with sticky floors and rampant climate control issues only to have Sir Richard McPhlegm and his girlfriend Gabby Yapsalot sitting right behind me for two hours, kicking the back of my seat and simultaneously coughing and commenting during every critical plot point in the movie.
I’m quite content to wait for a movie to appear on DVD, thank you very much, which allows me to watch it on my TV at my convenience, with the Zeus-like power to turn it off with the click of a button in the event that, despite the apparent awesomeness of its trailer, the movie turns out to be yet another steaming hunk of hyped-up Hollywood dog crap.
Call me a curmudgeon, but I’m just funny that way.
However, our city has a saving grace for people like me. They call themselves an “encore” theatre, meaning they play big screen movies that have been out for a long time but have not quite yet made it to DVD. And they only charge two bucks a ticket to see a movie, which makes even a cheapskate like me willing to roll the dice to see a flick once in a while.
So the other night we decided to check it out, and the best-looking film on the bill was The Croods. I was in a good mood when I debit-carded my family’s entrance past the ticket wicket and headed to the popcorn counter. I was thinking, “Yes, I am quite aware that my wallet is going to be raped by an eight-thousand percent markup on gummy bears, but so far I’m only in for a toonie, so what’s the harm?”
The surprise came when the smiling brace-faced teenager behind the till told me that they didn’t accept debit cards.
“No debit cards? You’re kidding, right?”
“No sir. No debit or credit. Cash only.”
“Cash only? Did we just time warp back to 1993? Who carries cash these days?”
“There’s an ATM over in the corner…you’re welcome to get some cash from the machine, if you like.”
“But I just used my debit card to get in here. You have it on the other side of the lobby but not over here?”
“Sorry sir. It’s just a cost saving thing.”
“A cost-saving thing? You’re charging twenty-four dollars for two cokes and a couple of bags of popcorn. I know loan sharks with more forgiving profit margins. You’re telling me that in all that mark-up, there’s no room to cover the cost of a thirteen-cent debit card transaction?”
By this time though, the movie was starting, and it wasn’t fair to keep blaming the innocent teenaged popcorn filler-upper for the incomprehensible business policies of the discount theatre where she worked. But on principle I wasn’t about to blow five bucks in ATM service charges either, so I was screwed. No cinema snacks for yours truly.
“No popcorn,” I grumpily announced to my family, as we trudged to our seats. “We’ll do pizza after the movie.”
Sitting in the theatre, watching the movie’s opening credits, I made a firm mental note to tuck a few emergency sawbucks in my wallet for times like this and tried to take solace in the fact that at least the people behind me weren’t chatting, coughing or kicking my seat.
I could definitely hear them crunching their popcorn though.