I suppose you may be here thinking what movie could plunge that low and then deliver a Hollywood punch to pick the masses right back up, well your thinking is wrong. This isn’t a story about a movie and humanity, but rather a story about how the faith we have in others can be stripped away from us so quickly, yet returned just as quickly as it left. As humans we tend to think of others as either decent people whom you wouldn’t mind interacting with or you look at your bystanders as the worst entities out there after they forget to hold the door open as you trail behind carrying a tray of cupcakes. For me, I like the idea of optimistic thinking but I know all it takes is one unfriendly interaction with a stranger to send my thinking into a dark hole.
Movies, amusement parks, sporting events, concerts – generally any setting where there is a population of people gathering gives way for thoughts and opportunities to judge others. “Oh they bought their own snacks/food in they must be smart/cheap/poor/loud noise makers.” “They are wearing a dress to ride a rollercoaster they are clearly out of place.” “They complain about lines, they complain about everything, they must be very unhappy people to be around.” We may not intend to judge but we do. And this day at the movies I might have placed false judgments upon some stranger I don’t know from Adam, but in all honesty she deserved it.
It was a Tuesday, because Tuesdays are they days where my sister and I could go to the movies for free. Some days we would go because it was actually a movie we wanted to see (The Dark Night Rises), other days we have no idea going in and it turns out to be marvelous (The Trip), others we go because it has a decent cast but turns out to be one of the worst movies we’ve ever seen (To the Wonder), and finally there are days we go not necessarily because we want to see the movie, but because it is free. We really like movies but what we like even more is when it doesn’t cost us a thing. So a 4:00 clock showing of Oz the Great and Powerful, why not?
(Side note: I think I enjoy going to the movies so much because you can experience something with others but are under the cover of darkness, and therefore you have free reign not to interact with anyone unless they step into your field of play and as a result force you to.)
As I entered the theater, which was decently crowded since it was free movie day, I spotted my sister sitting on the aisle. Having gone to movies with her I know she frequents the bathroom so I didn’t expect her to move to the inner chair when I approached her. I also didn’t expect her to make me stretch my clumsy legs and body across her in order to get to that chair, but she did. And this is where it all went south and as a result my faith in others was put into question.
The attempt to make it to my seat without falling on top of her as well as our fellow movie goers worked out okay, but the attempt to clear the ginormous drink placed in the cup holder in order for my bottom to safely reach the seat cushion, on the other hand, did not. Soda down. Ginormous soda down. Embarrassment begin now. Movie theater floors are hot spots for sticky substances, but I certainly didn’t want to be a participant in adding to this uncleanliness. I quickly realized I was responsible for this mess so I was also responsible for cleaning it up. I apologized to those around us with all sincerity, and for this I had to muster a lot of strength as I don’t do well with public speaking, but everyone seemed to be handling my blooper well except for this one woman. She wasn’t just any woman though, she was the woman who made me question my faith in humanity and made me seriously consider that maybe I should go answer Bowie’s question “Is their life on Mars?” because that planet has got to be a better alternative than having to have to deal with humans on this one ever again.
She was seated behind us. She was an older woman and she was with a man. She looked dressier than the typical movie goer; therefore maybe she was one a date. She was angry.
When my mishap of the leg caused the soda to come crashing down, one of the aftermaths was a microscopic drop or two landing on her ensemble, and to put it lightly she was not happy about it. I apologized. I apologized again. And then I apologized some more. Apology not accepted. And how did I know my apology was dismissed, because she rather adamantly complained about the state of her clothes as if I just gaked her Nickelodeon style. How could I do such a thing? She demanded to know what I was going to do about it. She persisted that something must be done. Um let’s see I’ll get some paper towels and offer them to you but then you will turn them down. Or maybe we can leave and find a dry cleaners immediately that is open 24 hours so we can rush there and sit together to ensure your scarf is brought back to its original state. Or even better yet let me just take you on a shopping trip to make up for this horrible blunder that I have placed upon you and your wardrobe, but let’s get real nothing will appease you.
I was uncomfortable with what was happening, and I was even more uncomfortable that we just washed $5+ down the proverbial movie theater drain/floor. This lady in case it wasn’t evident by her initial reaction to being assaulted by soda was quickly becoming the human that ticks you off so much you decide to air it on Facebook. Yes, I know it stinks to have stains but it’s even worse when they are actually noticeable (and this coming from someone who actually despises stains). And yes I am sorry to have ruined your afternoon school day movie date to Oz the Great and Powerful, but surely we can move past this. And I’m positive the consoling and kisses that your partner offered you will make things better because the heartache of a droplet of soda can be a great cross to bear. As she continued to huff and puff and insisted on knowing how I am going to make her scarf better (like I’m some politician fielding inquiries on the state of education), I do what I think is only appropriate, I leave.
I don’t leave forever, I just leave to notify the appropriate authorities of the mess I made and apologize once again for being a klutz. I asked the staff if there was a mop I could use to clean up the floor, and then I would need it for a few more minutes to do some detailed cleaning on a certain scarf. They sprang into action saying they had it covered. Furthermore, they said that the lids on their cups were faulty, and assured me to not worry about it, and please go get another soda for free. Well thank you. I then proceeded to the bathroom to get paper towels for this woman who was currently dialing a hit man to have me taken down. I returned to more complaining and obnoxiousness so I offered the paper towels (which as I mentioned earlier she declined), and my sister and I moved to different seats far away from her and far away from the embarrassment and annoyingness that just ensued.
So here’s the thing. I get someone being upset. I get it. What I don’t get is the scene. I know I was in the wrong but this woman was rude, gave off a killer vibe of pretentiousness, and a human no one wants to be friends with (too far?). When did accidents turn strangers into jerks? She was cruel, that’s what she was. She stripped away the faith I have in others and made me never want to speak to humans again (Again, too far?).
We watched the movie but all I could think about was how infuriating this woman was. She smooched it up as we witnessed from our new seats behind, and my sister and I had the unspoken knowledge that she was just the worst. The movie ended and I expected to walk out into the light of day and embark on my new journey to view the world with my gray googles firmly in place. And that’s just it – the fragility of humanity – one daunting, unpleasant interaction and it can be quickly lost.
But where faith is lost there is the possibility that it may be returned.
We exited the theater and as we approached the doors to step back out into the cruel world we were stopped by a couple. They wanted to make it a point to inform us that the lady, you know the one who just a few hours earlier made me question humans as a race, was such a baby and was in their words: “acting like acid landed on her.” My embarrassment and frustration with living Homo sapiens suddenly became null and instead gratification crept in. They proceeded to tell us “you said sorry like a 1,000 times,” and they would have loved to dump something far worse over her head. We all laughed. And this gesture made by strangers who went out of their way to approach me didn’t just make me feel better about my “altercation” in movie theater 2, but it brought back my feelings that people are good. Humans can get it right.
Moments prior I was ready to throw in the towel on interacting with strangers ever again, and then in a snap it was these people we call strangers who recognized the absurdity of it all and were able to restore my faith in humanity. So this indeed isn’t a story about a movie, but rather a story occurring at the movies where faith was quickly taken away by a scarf obsessed stranger, but then replaced by another stranger proclaiming their desire to inflict bodily harm on someone on your behalf. I am thankful for this experience because even though you may have been wearing a Mets Starter jacket from the early 90s (Yankees fan here) you immediately brightened my day. We judge others, it’s only human, but let’s just try and remember we are all in this together. And if we can’t get behind the group think mentality of harming another obnoxious human and laughing about it, then what is humanity anyway?