Working at the cinema is by no means a glamorous job. You spend your days shovelling popcorn, selling ridiculously-overpriced tickets, and sweeping crisp crumbs off the carpet all in the exchange for national minimum wage.
Unbeknown to most however, there’s a lot more that goes into the job. We learned the unspoken guidebook to surviving as a customer service assistant in a cinema thanks to someone in the know – here’s what they told us.
1. We pour bags and bags of ready-popped popcorn in the warmers every morning and if they’re not sold, we bag them back up to resell the next day.
2. Our staff complimentary tickets are occasionally swapped for Peri-Peri chicken from the guy we’ve befriended in Nandos.
3. Screen checks are the worst. Nipping into the screen every 45 minutes or so to make sure customers aren’t at each others’ throats and whatnot subjects us to countless spoilers.
4. You’ll find us in the staff room watching trailers for an upcoming film if ever we are early for our shift. We do it during our breaks too… and on the bus journey home.
5. We book holiday months in advance to avoid those ridiculously busy nights following the release of a big film. Magic Mike XXL, 50 Shades Of Grey and Fast 6, we’re looking at you.
6. We may very well rip the corner a bag or two of Maltesers on the sly, so we can write them off as damaged and stuff our faces with them later.
7. We discover couples getting down and dirty more often than you’d think. We also wonder whether or not these frisky customers know there are security cameras within the screens, and in some cases, the live feed runs through to TVs in the cinema foyer.
8. The portion sizes are ridiculous, we knew before you threw that dramatic spectacle at our till. £5-something for a minuscule box of heated Doritos, a dripping of cheese and three jalapeños are overpriced nachos at any standard.
9. There is a possibility that we serve you a soft drink knowing full well the post-mix syrup is on its last legs.
10. If there are five screens coming out in the space of 25 minutes and we’re short for time, we may just brush the empty wrappers under the seats in front – it’s someone else’s problem now.
11. The closing soundtrack to any and every film are forever embedded in our mind, so much so we found ourselves humming them in the shower.
12. Our brooms (known as pick-ups) are our world. Staff wars have been known to erupt if pick-ups have been borrowed, misplaced or broken. We take a breach of the broom conduct personally.
13. Many of us enjoy watching films, but some don’t really give a crap. So please refrain from asking our opinions on a film we probably haven’t even seen on your way out.
14. We could very well be lying to you when we say the last film has already gone in. Late night shows are the bane of our existence and having to wait an extra two hours for a screen occupied by just a single person doesn’t make us happy.
15. Yes, we’re well aware that tickets prices are slowly creeping up so much that you may have to re-mortgage your house to enjoy the privileges of the cinema. But we didn’t price them ourselves, so please keep your aggressive feedback to yourself.
16. Having waited in the queue (impatiently, we may add) for 10 minutes, customers who get to the counter and still aren’t sure of their order yet will have to face a death stare.
17. We have eyes and ears everywhere, know that. When you high five your friend for screen-hopping after your film is finished, or if you’re under-age and bought a ticket for a 12 only to sneak into the 18… We see you. We see everything.
18. If we spot couples on a date (or children with their parents) we’ll definitely make the most of the opportunity to upsell – offer you bolt-on snacks you don’t really want, VIP seats you don’t really need or toppings on your ice-cream all for that extra 60p in sales.
19. Rudeness is never tolerated. We may be smiling through gritted teeth as you yell at us about the waiting time or bark your order at us without even so much as a “please”, but know that we’ve probably somehow found a way to add extra charges to your bill. Or “accidentally” given you tickets for the wrong film.
20. However, it has to be said, working at a cinema isn’t all doom and gloom. The free tickets are compensation enough to make up for any unruly customer.
21. Not forgetting the staff previews. Yep, we get to watch the biggest films before you do (albeit only a week or so before).
22. No matter how tough your shifts get, you’ve always got your loyal team and wouldn’t trade them for anything. You’re like one big family – a dysfunctional one, admittedly.