Student Voice


July 14, 2024


Entry level job hard to leave for new career

April 6, 2007

Two separate events made me realize how much my job at the movie theater means to me.

This week, I was offered a reporting position at a daily newspaper after graduation which will require me to leave my beloved movie theater.

Secondly, a new group of bowtie and apron donning employees have been hired to replace me and a few other moving on.

“Would you like butter on your medium popcorn?”

“We have Coke, Diet Coke, Cherry Coke, Sprite, Powerade and lemonade.”

“We only have small and large Icees.”

I couldn’t count how many times I’ve said these phrases. I’d be willing to bet if I put a dime in a jar for every time I said any of them, and all my hourly earnings in another, the dime jar would be much fuller.

These are things I can (and do) perform in my dreams.

Having to walk through things with the new employees reminds of the time I started and about the things I was so scared about. I remember thinking I would burn the popcorn, or slip and fall in the butter or just doing anything that would really mess the flow of things up. Now, while I still mess up, I’m pretty confident around there.

There are some pretty amazing stories from that place that will come with me everywhere I go.

And while I know it’s just a job, and there are amazing people everywhere, I think there’s a concentration of the some of the nation’s best people working at the movie theater.

In three years, I can’t begin to detail the impact they’ve had on me, and I like to think I’ve had somewhat of an impact on them as well.

The vegetarian I thought was a strict workaholic turned out to be pretty just super attentive to the details and has a great cynical sense of humor even if she isn’t Venetian.

Adding ethnic spice to our work force, the six-year college student can be hard to keep up with when drinking, not to mention he led to me to the habit forming PlayStation game, Guitar Hero.

Even if she is tiny, she’ll teach you there’s a lot behind a smile; it’s not always because she’s happy with you, and tears are never inappropriate.

While some people have some physical feature that will always indicate their identity, sometimes a laugh is all you need to know who’s arrived.

Even if she’s old enough to be some of our moms, it’s good to have a boss whose not too busy to help when needed.

And not to be left out, the biggest jerk of all has a soft center that is well worth getting though to.

And even though I was one of the last one in the group to join, I‘m going to be the first one say farewell. It’s not going to be easy, it’s already been established: tears are going to fall on my last day.

I hope the new employees will get to see the same sides of people I have while working there. I know they’re learning the basics of how things work to keep the theater running, but it’s so much more than that. This entry-level job doesn’t boil down to how fast you can change the oilcan or pop syrup. It’s more about how many times you can yell out the code word for an uncooperative customer to your coworker and just get a smile and nod, or how late you can stay after your shift is over just to chat.

To me, this place isn’t a job, it seriously is like a second home. When I was having a hard time finding an apartment this past summer, I had plans to move a bed up into the candy room and just sleep there.

It’s not always sugary sweet, there are times I want to scream and give people an etiquette lesson. Times when I have to throw people’s chewing tobacco cups away when they left them sitting there for me; or when underage kids try and sneak into rated ’R’ movies; and especially when I have to fill five kiddie combo trays and they all want Sprite, no wait four Sprites and one Cherry Coke, oh nope, they need two Sprites, one Cherry Coke and two lemonades...

As frustrated and mundane as I sometimes like to think my job there is, it I will never have one like it again.

Despite the running joke (which actually has a lot of validity) that no one ever really leaves the movie theater, I have a feeling I won’t be back (much) to work there. With an end date in sight, and a new building for the theater on its way, good-bye is going to be good-bye, and even if I don’t want to admit it, I’ll be leaving, but looking back - fondly.

Keighla Schmidt is a student at UW-River Falls.