Suzi Foltz: Parenting when you’re not the parent

When you work box office at a movie theater, you become very practiced in the art of people watching. I realize that makes me sound like a complete creep, but its something that cannot be helped.

You notice when an elderly couple in their Sunday best come in to view a matinee showing of “Jackass 3D,” you notice when a few middle schoolers wait by the door trying to work up the nerve to ask for a rated R ticket that I will refuse to give them, you notice just how much extra butter people demand on their popcorn, and you can’t help but notice when you’ve upset someone.

This past weekend when working the 12:30 to 6 shift at Zeus Digital Theaters in Waynesboro, a man and his wife worked their way back to the ticket counter after their movie. Coming to the counter before your movie is perfectly acceptable and in fact, completely necessary; however, coming to the counter after your movie means one thing, something is wrong.

As they came closer I put on my happy-to-help-you smile and tried to predict what it would be. The theater is too loud; we wanted to see it in 3D, why didn’t we have it in 3D?; a kid threw up in the row in front of us; we were charged as adults and we’re senior citizens, can we get our $1.00 back?; or maybe even, there was too much cussing in that movie. I’m sorry about that, but I didn’t have any say in the writing or filming of that movie. I just sell the tickets.

However, their comment was none of these. In fact, what they had to say I completely agreed with and respected them for. They had gone to see “The Mechanic,” a rated R movie with pretty much nonstop violence, lots of inappropriate language, and incredibly graphic sex scenes. Their comment was not on behalf of their own opinion of the movie, but instead the audience who had gone to see it. There were two small children who were in their theater. The childrens’ ages I would estimate at 7 and 5, or at least near there. The older couple asked me why they were in there. I remembered the customers who they were talking about. They were very young, and I did not enjoy selling them the tickets, but it was what their father chose.

The policy for rated R movies is that the buyer must be at least 17 years old to purchase tickets for themselves. If they are under the age of 17 they must have a 21-year-old buy the ticket for them or a parent present to give consent. The parent of the two children in my example above technically did everything inside the rules, but does this make it right?

As a teenager, I will admit that I do not exactly have the most responsible opinions all the time, but even I found it a bit ridiculous. If I had been the parent myself, I would have taken them to see “Yogi Bear,” despite how stupid I think I’d find it myself, or just wait for another kids’ movie to come to the theater.

The concerned couple were explained our policies by the owner of the theater and the manager who was on staff. They eventually nodded and headed out, but my opinion matched theirs. I’m glad there are members of our community who take into consideration the minds of others. However, is it really my place to say how to be a parent when I’ve never been one myself?

Suzi Foltz is an Augusta Free Press intern and Wilson Memorial High School senior.

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