I complain a lot, and I’m proud of it.
As far as I’m concerned, complaining is an underappreciated form of expression. It’s responsible for most, if not all, of the greatest advances.
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Think about it. The cave people were tired of whining about being cold, so they figured out how to make this thing called fire. The Wright brothers were wearing themselves out grousing about the birds having all the fun, so say hello to the fixed-wing plane.
In fact, right now, based on my demographic, I am in the complaining sweet spot. No one takes an under-30 complainer that seriously, because they haven’t had years to hone their craft to get quick results. The female 30-to-40 age bracket is usually too busy parenting young children to follow through on any kind of long-term complaint agenda. The over-65 group has usually grown out of or weary of complaining, and has passed to torch to me: over 40, under 60 and ready to mix it up.
Which is why last Sunday I was in full complaining mode. I was standing in line at a local movie theater waiting to buy tickets. Only one family was in front of me. You would think this would mean I’d be out of that line in less than three minutes.
Wrong. Because the theater has brought back assigned seating. This means before you buy your ticket you look at a computer screen and pick your seats.
I get it. In theory it’s not a bad idea. The big issue is, you take what should be a 60-second transaction and turn it into “Sophie’s Choice.” Do I sit here or there or way up there? You start asking family members where they want to sit. The horrors, because based on my phone timer, it took this family of four seven minutes, that’s right,
minutes to pick their seats.
After my phone timer hit the five-minute mark, I felt it was my duty to intervene and ask the cashier whether she would kindly suggest the “best seats available” to this family. She replied that she could not, “you know, company policy and all.”
Finally, as an act of mercy, I told the family where they should sit, and — praise the almighty buttered popcorn — they took my advice.
After I quickly got my tickets, I went straight to the information kiosk and questioned the wisdom of assigned seating if you can’t have the box-office cashier, with great kindness, nudge a family into making a decision. I explained that come summer blockbuster time they were going to have a line a mile long stretching past the Panera and circling Dick’s Sporting Goods if they didn’t have some sort of system in place to aid and hurry people up in their seat selection.
This is where my ego took a mighty blow. The young woman suggested I “send an email to the corporate headquarters with my complaint.”
Oh no she didn’t! You know what it means when someone tells you to send an email? It means they think you’re old. As in you’re so old you probably A) don’t know how to send an email, B) won’t remember send an email, and C) if you do remember, the email will probably be in all caps.
I know I needed a hair appointment to do a little gray camo, and I had been using wrinkle cream purchased at Target, but for the love of God I didn’t think I looked THAT old. I was steamed, leaving me no choice but to go over her head. I asked her to call the manager.
The manager, a dude that looked a little bit older, like he had been shaving for at least three years, got a double whammy complaint. First, I went off on the suggestion of an email, and second, I went into great detail about the time suck of having people select their seats without any guidance. To his credit, he listened politely and even did a head nod or two. He also mentioned contacting “corporate,” and I pointed out that “corporate” was right next door — like pick up a rock and you’ve hit the elusive corporate. He did, though, promise to “bring it up.”
Now this is where an ardent complainer brings her A game. I didn’t just contact corporate, I started a petition, and I’m offering my services to the theater chain. I will, for Stubs card points only, conduct a class in how to gracefully aid customers in seat selection, thus keeping the line quickly moving.
I’m still waiting to hear back. But really, they’d be fools not to partake of my services.