November 22, 2012

Open Letter to the Hipper Than Thou, On Thanksgiving Eve

I am livid.

I am not of the frequent complainers. I am not on any customer service blacklist that I know of. If I'm ever of the vocal minority, it's to bestow praises on those that have served me well.

But tonight, on the eve of Thanksgiving, I'm not doing so well. I'm living off my retirement funds and just scraping by on those. I've taken a million steps back to a job at the mall just to fill in the gaps.

I don't have any family to spend Thanksgiving with, and my only invitation this year for Thanksgiving dinner is a standing pity invitation by a very sweet family who wants to make sure I have somewhere to go, if I have nowhere else to go.

I've considered seriously - up to this very minute - not going, for fear of dredging up the old stories of  my family dysfunction and rehashing the failures of my job search and the dead ends of my career.

Worse yet, my sister unfriended me on Facebook sometime in the last couple of months, though I just discovered it this morning.

And so instead of drowning my sorrows in Thanksgiving Eve imbibing - on the night bartenders call "Black Wednesday" - I decided to go see a rare film at the Silent Movie Theatre, hosted by the non-profit repertory The Cinefamily.

I came home from a midnight screening at 12:30 a.m. totally deflated, in tears, carrying a bag of popcorn spilling over in my arms, clutching a Diet Coke dripping with sweat, ridiculously large for this time of night.

I promptly sent the following letter to The Cinefamily to retell the events of my busted, wasted evening, which would have been better spent doing just about anything else:
Attention Management: 
I have just returned home from waiting 45 minutes outside in the cold for a movie that was not going to be shown. 
You knew it wasn't going to be shown and yet you did not tell me when I picked up my ticket at the box office. You didn't tell me while I stood outside freezing until after midnight for the midnight screening. You didn't even tell me when I spent $8+ on a large soda and small popcorn, or when I struggled with the butter dispenser.

When I took my seat in the theater, the announcement was not apologetic. Thanks for the offer of warm beer, but no thanks. 
When I returned to the concession stand, your box office attendant asked me, "What, did you want a refund or something?" Uh, yeah.

I wasted my Thanksgiving Eve on you. Thanks for nothing. 
I am appalled at your poor management and lack of customer service. I cannot believe the cavalier attitude and the lack of communication I encountered tonight. For a small, boutique, niche, NON-PROFIT business, you must value your patrons or you will perish. 
I cannot comprehend how or why you think this is OK. 
Thank you for the refund of the $8 ticket price, but what about the concessions I purchased and had to place between my legs as I drove home? What about the service charge for purchasing advance tickets online? [Note: the ticketing agent refunded that too, thankfully.]
What about the shivering? My sore feet? My wasted evening? 
Please advise. I strongly urge you to make good. 
Regretfully yours,
Sandi Hemmerlein
The thing is, I only saw one other person walk out with me, refunded. No one else seemed to mind. All the people who seemed to know each other in line outside - some kind of insider community of film nerds and hipster geeks who ornament their septums with mustache-shaped piercings - then cheered at the alternate choices of films they were given instead of the scheduled screening, as though it was enough for them just to be there, regardless of what actually happened while they were there.

But I was there for the film, all alone, in my pajama bottoms, slippers, hoodie and glasses, wishing I were in bed instead, shivering in the cold.

Being subjected to yet another insider community I'll never be a part of is torture for me, always.

And wasting my time (and money) on people who don't deserve it - to the sacrifice of doing something else which could have been so much more exciting, captivating, and gratifying, even if it was just sleep - ranks as an utter disaster in my book. Even in the smallest, most meaningless circumstances like a stupid movie I never heard of until earlier this week, at a little independent theater run by a bunch of self-important jerks whose lack of interpersonal skills will ensure their ultimate demise.

Happy Thanksgiving to me.

Time for bed.

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  1. Oh Sandi. What a miserable evening.. You have an open invitation to fly to Chicago and spend another miserable evening with me at my miserable in-laws' Thanksgiving dinner.

  2. dude you are crazy