The Truth About Freedom

In this day and age, it never ceases to amaze me just how many people don’t realize the truth about freedom. Every day I hear people get angry about someone disagreeing with something they’ve said or done and screaming, “freedom of speech!” (teenagers tend to insert “expression” there) and “it’s a free country!”

I’m a Texan and I’m damn proud of it. Most people wouldn’t know unless I told them; I’m very articulate and the accent only comes out when I talk to my Texan relatives. One of the things I love about Texas is our very unique way of doing business. Case in point: the Alamo Drafthouse.

It’s a really cool theater where you can order dinner and adult beverages to enjoy while you catch a flick. I’ve been to Alamo Drafthouse theaters in both Austin and Houston. I love the place – the staff has always been friendly every time I’ve gone. One of the things I love about them is their strict no talking/no texting rule. If you whip out your cell phone during the movie, you get one warning. Use it a second time and you’re gone…and there’s no refund.

Recently, the Austin Alamo Drafthouse had an issue with a teenage moviegoer who refused not once, not twice, but THREE times to put her cell phone away. Finally, after breaking their own rule, she was ousted. She immediately called the theater and left a profanity-laced message for the management. In a beautiful act of humanity, the management did what no management outside the Lone Star State would have the cojones to do: they turned her voicemail into a PSA for their cell phone rule (I warn you, the video embedded on the website is not the censored version!).

Click the link and be prepared…it’s funnier’n hell.

Here, we have a typical American teenager doing whatever she feels like doing just because she wants to. Not only did she miss the signs all over the place and the PSA’s that explain the rules, she apparently temporarily lost her ability to speak and understand English both of the times she was asked by management to stop texting during the movie – because she says more than once in her little rant that she “didn’t know about the stupid (bleeping) rule.”

My second favorite part of this whole thing is the part where she says, “so excuse me for using MY phone in USA, Magnited States of America, where you are free to text in a the-a-ter!”

Okay, sugar…since you have apparently not paid attention in class, lemme help you along on this quiz. The Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Articles of Amendment are meant to protect us from the government. Say it with me now: GOV-ERN-MENT. The government couldn’t sell booze in a whorehouse (your extra credit assignment is to Google “mustang ranch”), so I promise that they’re not running this operation. As the Alamo Drafthouse is a privately owned and operated establishment, the same free country that protects your rights also protects the management’s rights. They are allowed to run their business as they see fit. That means if they tell you to turn your cell phone off and not use it, it is entirely within their rights not only to have the rule, but to enforce it.

Are ya with me so far, babycakes?

My favorite thing of all about this entire episode is the fact that the management turned the holy rule of customer service on its ear. We’ve all heard that rule: the customer is always right. We’ve all lived by it, whether as customers or employees. Whether we’re willing to admit it or not we all know that the customer is NOT always right. Sometimes, the customer is a complete jackass when they’re not getting what they want, regardless of whether the service they want is possible. The absolute beauty of this ad is that it turns a glaring spotlight on what has become a massive problem in America: I want what I want and I want it NOW!!!

Our “I must never be inconvenienced” culture treats customer service in every industry like slaves. Forget right and wrong, if they don’t get what they want, they are bound and damned determined to get back at the person who didn’t give them what they wanted. People don’t like hearing the word “no” no matter how you dress it up. It’s refreshing to see a business finally standing up and telling a customer who’s acting like a spoiled rotten brat the truth – that they’re acting like a spoiled rotten brat. It’s enough to make customer service employees all over the country stand up and cheer.

The Alamo Drafthouse will be the ONLY theater I attend when I go home from now on. They’ve absolutely won my undivided respect. As for that kid…I hope her parents are completely mortified. Mine never would have let me out of the house again.

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3 thoughts on “The Truth About Freedom

  1. More video here:
    http://gotopublicschool.com/things/dont-text-or-talk-or-well-take-you-out
    How about super bright smartphone/iPhone screens in the middle of a dark theatre? I admit I have checked my insulin pump which has a back light but it’s on my belt and I shield it. I think this is why I watch most movies through Netflix or iTunes rentals.
    AndyB, NH.
    PS This new webpage format is a little weird. Video runs into text along thew right side and there doesn’t seem to be a listing for the author of each post. Then again I hate change;-)

  2. Based on the behavior of typical rude cell phone users these days, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if this girl’s parents sided with her on the issue. It’s interesting though that you chose to write about this. I have not been to the movie theater in several years just for that reason. I’m not going to pay 12 dollars to sit and watch someone talk and text for two hours. I complained to several employees and always got the response that there is nothing they can do because they would get in trouble with corporate if they kicked people out. So I stopped going. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that several movie theatres in my area have closed in the past several years. If there was a theatre with an enforced no cell phone policy like that in my area, I would be going every time a new movie came out that I wanted to see.

    I think that entitlement mentality goes with people of any age. I was in a theatre a few months back to see a touring show when a middle-aged woman sitting next to me got a call on her cell phone. She proceeded to answer it and start talking. After about one minute I stood up in my seat and flagged over an usher who made her hand up the call. For the rest of the night she kept giving me nasty looks and told me how I need to mind my own damn business. That says it all.

  3. I love the people who give YOU a dirty look when they ate the ones who should be embarrassed by their behavior. Sometimes I leave my phone in the truck so I can concentrate on the performance (okay I get distracted with my iPod too darn technology). Which is more important? An event happening right now in front of you (live or recorded) or a mindless conversation you can have anytime? Being constantly connected isn’t that good of a thing. Plus I think it means more when you set aside time to focus on a conversation with another person (no texting does not count. I can be in the bathroom or watching tv while I do that!).
    All goes back to Rule #1: People Suck.
    Cheers, AndyB, NH.

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