Repeating 8/1/22

Thoughts with Richard Bleil

Something interesting happened at the drive-in this week.  In my opinion, the experience at the drive-in theater where I work begins when they first enter the gates and doesn’t end until they leave.  This is why, as they are driving out, I provide a service to our guests.  See, so many modern vehicles have automatic lights these days, that it’s not uncommon, even for me, to forget that the lights were manually turned off.  So, as they exit, I stand where they can see me.  Mostly I wave them farewell and say things like “thank you for coming” and “hope you had fun”, but every once in a while I’ll wave them down and stop them to ask if their lights are on.  Sometimes they are because it’s not always easy to delineate between headlights and daytime running lights, but on occasion I find one, and they are always grateful when I do. 

Driving in, if I’m at the back gate where I can take only online tickets and they see me for quite a distance I’ll do something odd.  For example, sometimes I pretend like I’m one of those air things, you know the ones, operated with a powerful air pump, tubes with arms that dance around.  Or maybe I’ll “pull” them in with an invisible rope.  When they reach me, I’ll often say something like, “you didn’t see that, did you?”  When they drive in through the main gate, though, I’m in a little booth, and they can’t see me dance.  So, I’ll usually just say something silly to them. 

This week, somebody came through the back gate and recognized me.  A man and woman who asked me if I sometimes work the main gate.  There are two main ticket takers, and a couple other employees who sometimes fill in, but usually it’s us, so, yes, I probably was there.  They told me that they remembered me and a joke I had said, and they repeated it back to me.  The movie was the new Top Gun movie, and my usual joke was, “because people were getting motion sickness, as a courtesy we took out all of the scenes that had jets in them.  The movie is now four minutes long, and the story line is a little bit choppy.”

It was a nice thing to hear, my own joke being repeated to me.  They said that they had even repeated it to some of their friends, which is fine.  The joke isn’t the important piece of this post.

For a man who shook hands with Nobel Laureates, Russian Generals, taught chemistry reaching the level of tenured full professor, was the director of a forensic science lab and was even a dean, the reality is that I sometimes lament how far I’ve fallen.  Here I am, now taking tickets at a drive-in theater.  It’s hardly the type of power job that I’m used to and has nowhere near the glamor of my previous posts.  It’s extremely humble, and yet, here’s a reminder that regardless of how humble others might view this job, I’m still touching lives.

My boss told me of the praise he had heard recently from a father who was not even a client.  His daughter’s car had run out of gas, and he was there bringing gas for her car.  I remember him well, but not the conversation that we had.  Of course, I didn’t charge him (don’t tell my boss) since he wasn’t there to see the movie, but we did have a little conversation.  It was a little more protracted than many at the gate, because the movie had already started, and there was no line behind him, so we chatted.  Later, my boss (don’t tell him) told me about him, how he had come into the concessions building, and was heaping praises on me.  Apparently, his bad day started long before his daughter ran out of gas, and he just needed a friendly voice.  According to my boss, he couldn’t say enough about how I lifted him out of the funk he was in and made him feel better.

I’m a power person.  My history is complex and looks impressive.  And I don’t hide it.  Because of my past, there are many things that make for interesting and humorous stories, and I’ll gladly share them mainly to make people laugh.  And now, I’m just a humble ticket taker, but I’m still making a difference.  People sometimes feel as if they’ve had no notable achievements when they think of me, but it’s important to note that everybody, no matter how humble of a life they lead, makes an impact on the world, for better or for worse.  Something as simple as stopping to ask somebody what is wrong when they retort “terrible” to the simple question of “how are you”, or just a smile in a line, can make far more of an impact than we may ever know.  As do actions that are negative.  The choice of who we are is ours, and ours alone.

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