The Drive-In 5/20/22

Work Experience with Richard Bleil

Recently, I’ve started a new adventure. My regular readers will know that I tend to collect experience, good, bad, or indifferent and try to learn what each of them has to teach me. My most recent adventure is starting a new job. Yes, I, Dr. Richard Bleil, Ph.D. in theoretical chemistry, have, after a long hiatus, begun a new job. I’m working at a Drive-In Theater.

Yes, it’s okay to laugh. I’m slightly overqualified for the job. But I’ll be honest with you, I’m truly enjoying it. People often don’t like hiring applicants that seem over-qualified out of fear that they will get bored and quickly move on, but, as I’ve written before, people don’t usually quit jobs. They quit bosses, and my new bosses (a married couple who own the theater) are just fabulous. They are clear in expressing their expectations, do a good job at training and responding when you’re stuck with a task, and are laid back with great senses of humor.

The theater is new, as this is only the second year for them. I’ve long loved Drive-In theaters, but rarely gone. The reality, I would LOVE to go with a date. It’s a great date idea, since you have a personal space where you can actually talk (and, you know, whatever else) during the film without worrying about disturbing those around you, but the last time I actually had a date, Obama was in the White House.

The Drive-In Theater is a staple of American culture, and its decline has been lamented by many. I used to love Billy Bob Thornton’s Drive-In Theater series on a premium movie channel where he would show classic drive-in favorites that he would rate by the number of breasts in the movie. Okay, to be fair, my theater is a family-friendly one, so I’m not sure how many of those kinds of movies they’ll show, but I truly doubt that the owners are afraid of them. I guess we’ll see. But now, apparently, the Drive-In Theater is beginning to rebound with new ones, like mine, starting to pop up.

Heck, I had a Maserati come through the other night. I bragged that I drive a Chevy.

Drivers will sometimes ask me where the best place is to park. If they’re male, and with someone who doesn’t look like their child, I’ll tell them to park on the right side of the screen. That way, when he’s ready to steal a kiss, her head is already slightly turned in his direction. These are important considerations, you know.

I had a great lesson in how to be a teacher from a young woman who is just finishing her junior year of high school a week or so ago. She was working as a ticket taker last year, so she was assigned to train me. She was marvelous at explaining things to me for the first few cars, but explanation and observation only goes so far. She quickly put me in charge and let me do most of the rest. She kept an eye on me and reached in to help out only when I needed it, letting me make my minor errors but not so long as to be an inconvenience for the drivers, and just let me find my groove. The next week, I tried to teach another ticket person, and I have to admit, I was not nearly as good as she was. It’s that “man-splaining” gene that made me jump in too quickly, I think. But I also learned another lesson. A few drivers would ask if I’m “training her well”. We have this habit in our society that old farts like me are the ones who train our youth. The reality is that it’s not always true, and I was always quick to point out that she was the expert, and I was the student. They often seemed surprised, but I was proud to be her underling.

Mostly, I’m just having fun. Having a job again is giving my life structure that has long been missing, and although there are some parts of the job that are not so much fun (like cleaning the bathrooms, although, so far, they have been very clean), the people are fun, the bosses are great, and I get to watch the movies. I do have to buy a radio, though, so I can also hear it (and yes, that is allowed). But mostly, I’m thankful that the owners took a chance to hire me. I’m looking forward to many years of welcoming people back to this American Cultural Institution. (The theater, by the way, is right outside of Omaha, called “Quasar”. I’ll check with the owners to be sure I can leave this in, but come out and see me!)


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