I’m testing out whether I get more site hits when I use exclamation points in the title. I got a lot of seemingly random hits the other week when I used them in my Occupy Denver Rally!!! blog post. So if I notice a positive trend, I’ll pretty much use them in every title in the future, in which case readers will most likely grow accustomed to them over time and begin to tone them out, making the exclamation points mute (irony). So then I’ll have to start adding more and more exclamation points every week until finally no amount of them will satisfy my readers. When that happens I’ll switch to question marks and repeat the process until those no longer work, then after that I might start using all CAP LOCKS, then maybe italic, then when enough time passes I’ll be able to start recirculation by using exclamation points again, though of course I’ll have to market them as something cool and retro. The quality of my writing won’t improve and I’ll have to invest so much time and resources into market research and branding that my writing will, in fact, begin to deteriorate, but that won’t matter because I’ll have so many readers and blog site hits that I’ll be rich! If I get enough hits while using cheap tricks like exclamation marks to sell my product I won’t even have to worry about the quality of it. Quantity vs. quality? Quantity wins every time in our great society of buycrapitalism. Who wants to read something meaningful anyways? I know I for one DON’T want to get
depressed by sad news :-( in SUDAN or have! to think about an issue??!! Are you distracted and entertained? Good…
…Which leads me to my next topic: entertainment–the industry I now work in. As some of you may know, I landed a pretty sweet job at the Cinemark movie theater in the 29th St. Mall. Yeah, I’m kind of a big deal now. I get to wear black slacks ($6 Goodwill), black shoes ($10 Goodwill), and a sick name tag on a lanyard, which allows me to see free movies if I so desire. Yesterday was my first night on the job, and I made a cool $43 bucks for six hours of work. Not too shabby I say, especially when I get to eat all the free popcorn and kettle corn I want for my dinner break!
Everyone who works at Cinemark starts out in concessions—the one and only place where the movie theater makes any profit. Why they start the newest, untrained employees here, for that matter, makes very little sense. But I found out why they do it though. Concession workers, aside from the couple people who sell the tickets, are the only people that do anything. The movie theater’s metaphor of society depicts the lowest class as the hardest workers and the only people producing anything of value. The “ushers” pretty much just walk around finding menial tasks to occupy themselves with while the managers sit in their locked office room all stroking their gigantic egos. Concessions workers are stuck with all the cooking, cleaning, and selling. Unfortunately the only thing we sell is junk food. The employee turn-over rate at the theater is amazing. The longest-lasting employee in the entire theater has been there a grand total of two years. Half the managers have only been there eight months. Cinemark: congratulations on creating such a shitty work environment, hierarchy system that instills dissent among the management and employees, and low wage pay system that you successfully keep anyone from ever working there longer than a year or two. The food they sell is disgustingly bad for you. There are 910 calories in a large, un-buttered popcorn. Around 1,500 with butter. The small hot dog has about 500 calories while the large has 700. The pretzels are soaked in butter and salt. A large soda has 500 calories (comes with a free refill like the large popcorn). For every customer that wants a small popcorn, we’re supposed to upsell them on a medium or a large. Last night I refused to do this, despite the guy next to me doing it with every single person. I’d say about 50% of the time it worked too. No one said anything about me not doing it last night, but I’ll supposedly get “written up” for not doing it, whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean. Kind of like a referral in school. Just an empty punishment that carries a negative connotation and therefore serves as a scare tactic to keep kids in line.
“Hey now Kennett,” you may say. “People who go out to the movies don’t care about eating a little bit of hydrogenated junk food once in a while. They’re here at the movies to have a good, stress-free time outside of their real life. That’s what movies are for. Escapism. It’s not like they’re eating giant butter-drenched tubs of popcorn on a nightly basis. A little self indulgence is fine! Quit complaining and pump on that nacho cheese, it’s not like one extra snack is going to cause a heart attack!” I like watching movies for escapism and my life is pretty damn good. And I like eating junk food and I’m not fat, so maybe you’re right. Maybe selling popcorn isn’t that immoral.
Well, maybe. In many cases, this is probably true. Especially in Boulder, which is one of the healthiest, fittest cities in the nation. But even here there are plenty of overweight people who don’t need to be eating hundreds of salty calories late at night. It’s this attitude of “It’s not like our customers eat like this all the time” that fast food restaurants and junk food manufacturers have that has lead to the obesity epidemic the world is now facing. Because people DO eat like this all the time. When junk food is the only food advertised in commercials and the only thing we see driving down the street, of course people are going to self indulge, and on a daily basis too, not a bi-weekly occurrence like the theater says (I read some stuff Cinemark had in an article when I got home that basically said that).
I also read that a number of movie theaters switched to air-popped pop corn, which is very low calorie compared to the movie-theater oil popped, to give their patrons a healthier snack. The movie-goers overwhelmingly called for the regular oil movie popcorn to be put back on sale, preferring to be fat and happy than skinny and…unhappy? I guess. This just confirms to me that people don’t have their own self-interests in mind and that as a population, people are not fit to make good decisions for themselves, even when presented with good options. Unfortunately, we’ve let even less-qualified people make the decisions. A country of imbecile sardines electing a pod of great white sharks (great white sharks DO hunt in pods at times).
So what are my options? How do I improve the movie-industry to reflect the healthy lifestyle that Americans should, and need, to adopt? Should I quit and refuse to be a cog in the machine? Do I continue working at Cinemark but try to get people to buy less? I mean, they’ll just hire somebody else in my place if I quit. And it will probably be person who won’t care that the non-stick spray they use in the kettle corn machine contains hydrogenated oil, when there’s no reason why it should. At least if I’m there I can help people avoid buying the large popcorn and go for the medium. This seems like the easy way out though. I need to have more impact than that if I really want to make a difference. This leaves me only one option:
My grand master plan is to climb the corporate ladder and dismantle the corruption of the company from the inside. It will require years of work and careful planning. I’ll have to work hard to make it up to the corporate office with years of tedious work in the theater. Or a lot of ass-kissing. One of the two.
Actually, nah. I don’t really care that much. Forget it.
There are basically three different possibilities that this job will see a person go. The first, and most unlikely, is to quite early on because it sucks. The other new guy last night lasted for about two hours then left with a “stomach ache.” We’ll never see him again.
The next option is to work as a simple domestique like the majority of the employees do as an usher, a ticket salesman, or concessions employee, living in fear of the managers (who we have to address as “Mr. and Ms.” One of the managers introduced himself (very seriously) to me last night as “Mr. Johnson” or something like that and I laughed, and asked, “Uh, what?” He repeated himself, very seriously and now somewhat offended. He was probably 20-25 years old, like most of the managers, who began working here in high school or just after it instead of going to college or doing anything important with their lives. So they take the “Mr.” thing and all the benefits of being in charge, very seriously. I find it extremely condescending that I have to say Mr. or Ms. to them, and have therefore made it an effort to not learn anyone’s name, which actually won’t really require any effort on my part at all.
The third option of employment here is to suck up to the managers and become one yourself. I asked Josh, the guy who trained me last night (training takes only a single night. Even a blind koala could do this job–that’s how simple it is)…I asked him why he wasn’t a manager yet. He seemed to be the hardest worker, he’d been there there the longest (two years), and he was STILL working in concessions!—the hardest job (the only job where you have to do anything). I didn’t understand it, until I realized that just about everyone working in the theater had no ambitions in life and he was likely one of them. And then I found out how stupid he and everyone was. The it all made sense. Okay, upon re-reading this I see that I sound extremely arrogant and self-rightous, not that I’m not, but everything I’m saying about the place is all very true. After only one night, I’ve discovered like 20 things that would be much more practical and efficient than the way things are currently done. And when I commented on them, all I got back in response is, “well that’s just the way we do things here.” To me, that’s fucking stupid and lazy. Anyways…
Josh told me the only way to become a manager is to get the other managers to like you. I asked him if you had to work harder or take initiative in anything, and he said no. He’d trained our concessions manager that night (Ms. Mock–age 21 or so) just six months before when she first started working at Cinemark. Now, as a manager, she was bossing him around, making sure the counters were clean and the melted butter was wiped away from the self-serve butter pump when the night was over. I could tell she was not a harder worker, friendlier, or even a better butter-pumper than Josh…I know that last one from experience. Hey-Ohhh!!!!
As a manager, you can pat yourself on the back for your prestigious accomplishment with an extra $1.50 to $2 more per hour, dress yourself in a luxurious special suit that makes you look like nothing at all like a Grade A douchebag, entertain yourself all night long with a fist-full of keys kept constantly swinging around your fist on a lanyard, earn the respect of your minions and have them show it by calling you “Mr.” Peterson, and all the while enjoy the satisfaction of a hard night’s work while locking yourself, along with your colleagues, in the manager’s room all night long doing jack shit. Oh, and you get a walkie talkie.
I predict that I won’t last long enough to accomplish this since I found a much better, higher-paying job at a four-star Hotel, but I plan on working at least a few weeks more at the theater to make sure I have enough cash to get by until I start at the hotel. As for the theater, I plan to carry out as many social experiments as possible while I’m there. The popcorn shoveling part of the job isn’t actually that bad. I enjoy talking to the customers, giving out free samples (which I’m not supposed to do) and being extremely sarcastic. I don’t think the customers expect the guy shoveling popcorn to make jokes, so most of what I say goes right over their heads unfortunately. At least it’s funny to me though, which is all I really care about. I thought it would be pretty funny if I ironically (for me ironically since I care about people’s health)–If I sold kettle corn to people who didn’t want it. I convinced a couple people to buy the large kettle corn, which contains double the calories (1,800) of the large popcorn, by giving them some free taste tests. I was amazed at how well it worked. I think it was from guilt. I was doing them a “favor” and they felt bad about taking something for free, especially when I told them I wasn’t supposed to be giving it to them. And while earlier I said that I wasn’t upselling anything, by the end of the night I was–only ironically though so it’s okay. I definitely convinced people that the large was the best deal because you could get a free refill. “I mean, that’s the size I would get!” This tactic worked so well that I eventually began feeling guilty for using it and went back to just giving them what they asked for. Tonight I’m going to see if I can convince them to go down a size. “You sure you want a large? You know, the medium has 350 fewer calories, and by the looks of things, you could use a few less.”
If all else fails, at least I’ll be strengthening my own personal value in the world in the from of self-improvement through depravation of others. I’ll be making otherwise healthy people, fat. And in doing so, increase my chances to win races, get a good job, and find a hot wife. Success is all about weakening your opponent’s legs, not strengthening your own.