Friday, September 25, 2009

Line management 101

Or, how to annoy multiple people at midnight.

There's an indie horror movie making the festival/art house rounds right now called Paranormal Activity. The trailer makes it look like Ghost Hunters done by amateurs where they actually find something. I put it on my "to watch" list.

Then I noticed that the art house theater down the street was having a midnight screening tonight. It was the only screening in Boston, and it was one of the ones where you RSVP, but you're not guaranteed a seat. Those of you who notice timestamps on posts might guess where this is going.

Having done several midnight movies at this theater, showing up a half hour early is usually plenty to guarantee a good seat. So I wander over there at about 11:30. When I arrive, I notice that the line is coming out along the street instead of going back toward the parking lot. Chalking it up to stupid people, I get in line, pull out my phone, and start reading (did I mention that a nice Kindle feature is that you can also sync your last read page to the Kindle app on the iphone and keep reading it there?), content in my proximity to the door.

After about five minutes, a guy with postcards comes by. The guy ahead of me asks him if we'll all get in. Postcard guy says he doesn't know, but they were coming this way with wristbands. He then wanders off. A half hour goes by (it's now 12:10), and we hear a cheer from near the door. The line doesn't move. At around 12:25, we start going forward. As we draw even with the alley that contains the door, I realize that what's happened is that the line has wrapped completely around the block, and I'm on the wrong end of it.

It's about this time that a different official sounding guy starts yelling that if you don't have a wrist band, there isn't a seat. Turns out that they handed out all the wrist bands over a half hour ago, but they never bothered to come down the line and tell us unlucky folks that we weren't getting in.

Now, I have no problem with not getting in. I showed up late, that's my fault. But if you have 500 seats and 500 wrist bands, once you've attached those to 500 wrists, you know that your theater is full. Your next (and only) job is to continue walking down the line to tell the rest of the people waiting that they shouldn't bother. It's an incredibly basic part of line management, and they didn't bother to do it. So instead, I got to stand in line for nothing for a half hour too long.

It's minor, but it's really soured me on wanting to see this movie. If it ever gets a wide release, I'm actively not going to bother going to see it. I'll toss it on my Netflix queue, but it's going to be a low priority. It's a good example of how a poorly-run promotion can easily lose as many potential supporters as it gained. Instead of telling everyone how disappointed I am that I didn't get to see this sweet movie, I've now gone on for several hundred words about the annoying line practices. That won't get the asses in the seats. At least, not my ass.

And now I have to go occupy myself for another hour while I wait for the coffee I drank to stay awake through the movie to wear off.


Russell said...

oh no- somebody call the whambulance!

Katie said...

I wonder what went through the head of the wrist-band-hander-outer as he handed out the last wrist band and saw dozens and dozens of people in line, continuing to wrap around the building. I bet he didn't have time to tell everyone else because he had to race inside to get a good seat for the flick.

Andrew said...

weee-ooo weee-ooo weeee-oooo