Thoughts by Richard Bleil
Something odd happened yesterday (as of the writing of this post) at the drive-in theater. I work the ticket booth and was at the front gate where we can accept cash, credit, or can check in those who buy their tickets online. Now, we open the gates roughly three hours before the movie starts, and we do have people sometimes lined up at the gate waiting to get in. I love the early people. They will get the spots they want, bring balls and chairs and make a day of it. But once they’re checked in, I’ll often sit, without customers, for maybe an hour.
Things pick up about forty-five minutes before sundown, when suddenly everybody thinks they can come in at the last minute. If it’s a popular movie (as they have been of late), there will be a line of cars that sometimes stretch out to the highway. This is considerable, since there is a long winding road specifically designed to prevent that from happening before the ticket booth.
So yesterday, we had a line. It wasn’t the longest I’d seen, but there was a wait. There was roughly forty-five minutes before the main feature began (as I recall, cartoons had started to warm up the bulb on the projector) when a car jumped the line and drove past the booth on the left (the exit). I radioed in and told them that the person had not stopped, and somebody went out to meet them (hopefully) to find out, well, what the hell?
That’s has happened a couple of times before on previous movies, but for the first time, yesterday, a SECOND car did the same thing. They even had the nerve to wave to me as they did. Again, I radioed it in, and hopefully this person with a van full of children was ashamed in front of them all.
Now, the Drive-in’s have been fading. It’s a shame, as I feel like they are part of the American landscape, but the good news is that they seem to be making a rebound. My drive-in, for example, opened just last year, and people (who wait in line respectfully) heap praises and thanks on us for bringing the drive-in back into the area. They’re excited to bring their children to an experience from their childhood that they thought was gone forever. But if people jump lines, they are stealing money from the theater, and if it happens too often, well, like any other business, they’ll be forced to close their doors.
From this point forward, I’m sure we’ll start putting out block poles on the left side of the booth. I usually put a couple out just so people don’t try to “double line” and pull up on the left side because I’m there alone and we have one active window, but I leave enough space in case cars want to exit the theater for some reason. But now I guess I’ll have to block that lane completely. Currently, I’m even considering what to tell line jumpers that don’t realize that the left lane will be blocked, and who end up stuck there with no place to go, who will have to maneuver uncomfortably to turn around, or simply wait until the end of the line. And me? I’ll be polite, but I’ll definitely be laughing on the inside and bragging about it to my friends.
It’s a minor inconvenience at best, but the reality is that it will be so for anybody who has to leave unexpectedly hoping to come back (which they are allowed to do) for the second feature. But it’s sad that people are disrespectful even driving into a drive-in theater, and because of those few people, everybody has to suffer. Today, a bill passed the senate banning certain assault weapons. I don’t think it’ll pass the house, but it has a lot of very interesting components that would make it illegal to buy some of the guns that I own today. They’re doing it right; instead of specifying models, the law is written that outlaws guns with certain features. The reality is that the AR-15 is not the only assault rifle, and more will be designed, but with this approach it’s more sweeping.
Although it probably won’t make it to the president’s desk, it’s getting closer, and the attempts to pass laws are increasingly restrictive. This is because a majority of Americans are demanding action after so many mass shootings. Once again, the actions of a few will limit the rights of the majority. Sadly, the NRA and the Republicans (in general; not all, and some Democrats, but mostly Republicans) are fighting any and all forms of legislation on gun laws. This is, in my humble opinion, just a monumentally stupid thing to do. The reality is that, someday, and probably soon, a highly restrictive bill will pass because that’s what the voters want. If the NRA and opponents of such laws had any intelligence at all (in my humble opinion), they would be working with representatives to write common-sense laws to protect the people. Instead, they’re taking the “all-or-nothing” approach, which is destined to fail, so instead of getting legislation and restrictions they can accept, they’ll end up with some restriction that they don’t want shoved down their throats. The exit will be blocked.