“One for the Social Network” I told the cashier sitting behind glass trying as best I could to aim my voice through the awkwardly placed speaker.
“Eight dollars” came his reply.
With ticket in hand, I made my way inside the theater and headed down the dimly lit hall towards the ticket taker. As I approached, I noticed a woman of small stature taking tickets. Well, she was doing more than just taking tickets.
She rested one arm against a podium. With her other arm, she read each ticket before putting it next to a pad of paper that listed each movie playing at the theater. A mark was made under the movie’s title before she put out her hand to take the next ticket.
As I watched her go through this routine with the next patron, I realized she had a disability. Her balance was wobbly and her hand shook as she scratched each check mark, but she had the podium to lean against, stabling her position.
Normally, getting through a line with 6 to 8 people ahead of me would take a few seconds. Tickets would be shuffled and then ripped in bulk, and with the swing of an arm, each patron would be on her way.
But this line barely moved at all.
When it was my turn, I handed her my ticket and said hello. She said hello back to me without looking up. She picked up a pencil and made one mark under “The Social Network”. She put down the pencil and glanced back at her pad of paper.
“Theater five is on your right”, she said, finally looking up. I smiled and said thanks. She smiled back before taking the next ticket.
As I sat in the theater waiting for the movie to begin, I thought about this woman who made me slow down for a moment and ponder, happy I’d not complained from the back of the line or stressed over whether I’d make to my seat in time to catch all the previews. Instead I thought about the pride this woman took in her job. She was organized. She appeared to enjoy her job. She made me feel like more than just an eight buck ticket.
Until now I assumed the goal of any ticket taker is to move the line through as quickly as possible. The owner must have recognized something in her more valuable than sheer efficiency.
I will remember this experience the next time I step into a slow moving line. You never know who is up front taking tickets and putting their heart and soul into the job.