Cabin fever finally got the best of us last year.
The Wall Street Journal reports that for the first time since 2002, consumers spent more money on movie theater tickets than we did on buying movies to watch at home. (Those are U.S. figures, but for expediency's sake we'll proceed on the shopworn assumption that Canadians are just Americans with a heavier tax burden. Way heavier). Relative to other forms of outside-the-home entertainment, you still get a decent bang for your buck at the cinema...right up until you get to the candy counter.
I'm okay with dropping 10 to 15 dollars on popcorn and a drink as long as I'm getting something close to a decent count ("count" being 1970s drugspeak for whether your dealer padded your dimebag with stalks and seeds, but I digress), but that party is apparently over.
I took one of my boys to the movies over the Christmas holidays, and ordered my usual small soft drink, expecting and accepting that I'm going to get something of equivalent size to a regular can or bottle at a ridiculously exorbitant mark-up. What I got was an oversized Dixie Cup - about half of what a small drink used to be at the same theater - for $3.93.
But that's not the worst of it. When I gave the kid working the candy counter four dollars, HE ASKED ME IF I WOULD LIKE MY SEVEN CENTS CHANGE. Honest to sweet baby Jesus. I was dumbfounded. I don't know whether it's theater policy or if he wanted the seven cents for himself, but I immediately and instinctively lapsed into people-pleaser mode and HANDED HIM ANOTHER 50 CENTS so I wouldn't be a cheap tipper.
Okay, I'm an idiot for coughing up the extra 57 cents, and I didn't have to buy the drink in the first place. I could have smuggled in my own drink. I get all of that. But come on.
For a lot of us, loading up with snacks at the candy counter is an integral and time-honored aspect of the movie-going experience, and I've long since come to terms with the price-gouging. But they've finally crossed the line. Not only do they hose me for a glorified thimble of Diet Coke, but they guilt me into letting them keep the change. I don't care if the kid was doing it on his own initiative. As an employee, he represents the theater, and if he asks me if I want my change, he's exercising theater policy. Shame on them, and shame on me. I recently resigned from a relatively lucrative job on principle, but I won't stand up for myself over seven cents.
Oh well, at least I got to see Alvin and the Chipmunks.