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Don’t take off your shoes (and other advice from a former movie theater worker)

Now that we’re seeing movies on the big screen again, some people need a refresher on manners

I’ve noticed an alarming trend among my fellow theater attendees: People treating the theater too much like a second home. 
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The past year and a half have been difficult. We are all coping in our own way. For me, going back to the movies has been key to trying to find some semblance of normalcy.

My first real job in high school was at a movie theater. I mostly worked concessions. And, remarkably, despite an inhumane level of exposure to liquid butter and fountain soda, the job didn’t kill my love for going to the movies.

If anything, it actually made me extra grateful for the popcorn and the drinks, knowing the strange rituals and sacrifices (hot popcorn-kernel burns to the face) that go into their production. And because I could only watch snippets of movies during my breaks as a concessions employee, I now appreciate simply being able to sit through an entire film without interruption.

The theater feels like a second home, one that I missed desperately while being stuck inside my, well, first home. But now we’re stepping outside again and stepping back into theaters, and I could not be more elated. Yet I’ve noticed an alarming trend among my fellow theater attendees: People treating the theater too much like a second home.

I get it. At home, there were upsides to watching every new release in soft pants and fuzzy socks. But when you’re bringing the comforter from your bed into the movie theater and spreading it over you and your significant other and half of my seat, I have a problem.

And the blankets aren’t even the worst offense I’ve witnessed in theaters recently. Far more egregious are the patrons who remove their shoes.

When I witness this crime, I’m both repulsed and concerned. Repulsed by strangers’ sweaty feet sharing air with the snacks I’m putting in my mouth, and concerned that the humans attached to those feet might not know how disgustingly unclean the theater floors truly are.

But I know.

On occasion as a concessions employee, I had to “clean” said theater floors after a showing. We would walk in with push brooms and spend maybe 10 minutes sweeping the discarded snack containers, fallen popcorn and spilled sodas under the seats. Never once was a mop deployed, at least not that I saw.

Shoes are best left on. And movies are best viewed with a modicum of decorum.

Should we not be treating going out now as a celebration? And giving public events some dignity? Let’s fold the blankets and tie our shoes! Heck, let’s wear tuxes and ballgowns to the movies. Let’s buy all the overpriced treats because we can now. Let’s turn our phones off and be in the moment and respectfully enjoy sitting in a room, quietly taking in a film with strangers, because we can again.

But leave the blankets at home, the shoes on, and please oh please, keep your nail clippers in their drawer.

Meg Walter is the editor-in-chief of The Beehive and a Deseret News contributor.