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5:17 pm - Sunday, Sept. 23, 2007
Fire Alarmed

Fire Alarmed

Sun 9/23/07 (2:33 p.m.)

I’ve been having a pretty rotten time of things lately.

Or as I wrote in my pocket journal:

Feel like shit-Physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

I can’t seem to escape from bad feelings–I’m tired, I’m bored, I’m lonely, I’m stressed, I’m anxious, I’m frustrated, I’m afraid, I’m depressed. And something’s always aching, physically, emotionally, or both. Like I said–I. feel. like. shit

And last night at ArcLight didn’t help the existential black hole I’ve been in one bit.

I was working Guest Services with Lamont (One of my favorite coworkers, by the way).

Right from the get-go, it was one of those nights where the guests try to make it your fault that the movies are selling out, the parking ramp is full, traffic in L.A. sucks, and their lives aren’t working out the way they’d hoped.

We were trying to laugh it off–At one point, I told Lamont I’d reported him to management for causing all the problems the guests were bitching about–when something happened...and suddenly “laughing things off” was no longer was an option.

Apparently, ArcLight has two seperate alarm systems (I don’t understand that, but that’s what I was told, after the fact). And during the prime set, while we were dealing with, in all likelihood, a couple thousand “guests”, one of the two alarm systems–which had apparently gone off earlier in the day, according to Steve B.–starting going off (At this point, I believe most of our movies had started, so we were actually on the tail end of waiting on people at that point).

At first, it went off for a moment, then stopped for a moment or two, then went off again, making me think it was some malfunction that management would-hopefully-correct in a moment or two.

But then the alarm went off and kept going off.

And suddenly, the lobby, and particularly the area in front of Guest Services, was full of angry “guests” that had been watching their movies, wanting to know what was happening (I wanted to say, “A fucking alarm is going off, what do you think is happening?"), wanting their parking validated, and in many cases, wanting their money back.

(If you think people would have the good sense to exit the building when an alarm is going off, and ask questions later, well, my imminently sensible friend, you would be wrong.)

And–here’s the part I’m still steaming about today–there was no managerial presence; not to tell Lamont and me what was happening, not to tell us what to say to guests, not to tell guests what was happening, nothing. And at the one place in the theater where you know people are going to go in a situation like this (And this is not the first time this has happened–We had a similar situation last year, though on a night that wasn’t nearly so crowded, that was a similar cluster-fuck).

At one point, two Q.C’s (supervisors) came over, telling us to tell people that their ticket stubs would be passes for another time. Which didn’t do much good when a number of “guests” basically said, “Fuck that–I want a refund now”, and were refusing to leave (At this point, someone–I think it was Wayne, who is not a manager– had shouted that we were evacuating the building, which seemed a reasonable course of action).

The two Q.C.’s–well, I thank them for trying to at least come over and help (Cause it’s more than any manager did)–but they were basically useless (Worse than useless, really–at one point, when I was battling with guests over refunds, because I thought the #1 priority was supposed to be getting people out of the building–I look over, and one of them is doing refunds, pretty much insuring that no one was going to go anywhere). And neither of them had the presence/gravitas/physical size/ whatever it takes, to get the person in front of them to listen to what they were saying, let alone an angry mob.

And what about “the angry mob”?

I simply don’t get the angry reaction (A lot of people were angry, and some were downright apoplectic. As if I pulled the motherfucking alarm just to ruin their night). I don’t understand it at all. To me...well, if something like this happened when I was at a theater, and I was told my ticket would re-admit me for another time, I’d leave (And if I wanted to get my money back or what-have-you, I’d come back another time, ticket in hand, to deal with it then. Not when a fucking alarm is going off, and for all I know, the building is about to go up in flames).

Fucking rich, privileged assholes...

I’d like to say I was the big hero of this event, that I kept a cool head and sense of humor, and deserve a gold star.

But that’s not really what happened.

I tried to keep it together, but between the hordes of angry, unhappy guests, the fact I wasn’t being told what to tell people (I couldn’t even find out if the parking people knew what was going on, and had opened the gates of the parking ramp), my anger over the lack of a manager, or managers, to deal with the situation–cause who should be dealing with this sort of thing, a manager, or the guy making fucking $9.00 an hour?–and my low mood coming into the situation, and I lost my cool.

And I....expressed myself to one of the managers afterwards, while still in that state of lost “cool”.

I “expressed myself” pretty emphatically. To where I’m now concerned about possible repercussions (I didn’t curse at the manager in question. But I did loudly suggest that managers should actually manage in a situation like this).

But more later. Now I actually have to go to work, and see what everyone had to say about last night’s debacle.


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