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Confessions of a Concessionist

Being nineteen is both a blessing and a curse … I’ve discovered. I’m at an odd place in my life, where I feel like nothing is going fast enough and at the same time, time keeps going on faster and I’m accomplishing absolutely nothing in the time that goes by. By now, all of my friends are in college, or at least taking college courses. And what am I doing, you might ask?

I’m scooping popcorn and dishing out drinks at our local AMC Theater.

I remember growing up, how magical going to the movies was. Sitting in a giant theater with a 40-foot-tall screen in front of me and nothing at all to distract me was amazing. When the lights dimmed, and the previews for upcoming movies started, I barely blinked, forgot about the five dollar drink sitting next to me, and practically ignored my poor sister, who has since gotten used to what happens when she comes to the theater with me.

At the end of the movie, without batting an eye, I used to walk right on by the usher waiting to clean out the theater and breezed out the door. My cinematic adventure was over, and whatever lingering feelings I might have had from that movie would soon leave me with an empty feeling that would not go away until I went to see another movie a month or two later.

When I turned seventeen, I dropped out of high school and started working. A silly mistake, I’m well aware, but at the time it seemed like a damn good idea. I worked as a temp in factory settings, but eventually those jobs stopped coming. This was in the beginning of the “recession.” And yet, somehow, like Fate meant it to happen, I applied with little hope online at AMC and received a call back no more then two days later. I was soon hired, and trained as an usher and concessionist.

That was in April, and I can count on my one hand how many times I’ve been an usher. I’ve been delegated to the Concession Stand, a place of extreme quiet one minute and sudden rushes for popcorn and candy the next. As much as I might complain about it, I have to admit, there’s no place I’d rather be. The idea of being an usher, standing around all day until a movie lets out and I have to sweep, holds no excitement for me. The box-office, a place practically coveted because only a handful of people are trained in the mysteries of that elusive position, isn’t as exciting as I thought it’d be. I managed to watch Box Office while a friend went on break for fifteen minutes, and I was bored out of my skull.

A few months ago, I longed to get out of the thin corridor of the Concession Stand, where I was constantly roaming back and forth in search of cups or napkins or whatever had to be stocked that day. (More often then not, it was candy. And let me tell you first hand: Stocking four hundred plus bags of candy so that we don’t run out on the weekends is a pain.) But now, after having tasted both the Usher Pie and the Box Office Surprise, I have to say I’m pretty happy in Concession. Sure, it’s boring, and yeah, the pay sucks, but I have a relatively stable part-time job in a movie theater, a job I’ve always wanted.

I get to talk to people who come in (usually regulars who I know by face, if not by name and order) and they actually care about my opinion on a movie, usually one I’ve already seen thanks to the Employee Only premieres on Thursday nights.

What strikes me most, I think, is what this job has done for me not financially, but as a person. I’m confident and comfortable in the Concession stand in a way I never am in real life, because I am a Concessionist, and the Concession Stand is my fortress. Hear me roar, world: I dish out your popcorn and I love every minute of this minimum-wage job.