Neither of these stories is long enough in its own right, but since they’re on the same topic – maybe the two combined will be worthwhile.
The summer before my junior year, I worked at a movie theatre – part of a chain in Phoenix called “Harkins Theatres” (yes, this is where I met Jennifer). It was a shit job, and this was the summer of Independence Day, Twister, and Mission Impossible. The perk was seeing a lot of movies for free – I even got to see a pre-screening of Austin Powers, alone in a theatre with just me and Jennifer. I had zero hopes for the film, but I came out telling everyone that it was actually pretty good. Apparently no one listened to me until it was on DVD, where it blew up.
Cleaning a 300+ seat theatre in the 8 minutes they allotted between showings was nearly impossible. At times like that, a supervisor would come in with a leaf blower and go through the aisles, blowing all the trash towards the front of the theatre. They weren’t technically allowed to do that, which is why only they could do that. But, really, why else would they have a leaf blower? The annoying thing about the supervisors there is that they literally just supervised. They never worked – even co-workers that got promoted to supervisor would immediately stop doing any kind of manual labor (outside of running the illegal leaf blower). This created a rift between us and them and probably led to my eventual firing. Not that they singled me out as a problem – I went to management and just said “your supervisors just supervise, and they refuse to work and this is bullshit” and they said “okay, good to know” and I was fired the next day.
We had a giant industrial trash compactor out back. The idea was to fill it up from the outside by hurling giant bags of trash in there, then walk around to the back and hit the giant compactor button and repeat if necessary for any remaining bags of trash. We usually worked in teams, cause there was a lot of trash. And, sometimes you’d put in too much trash and things would get stuck – so you’d hit the “cancel” button on the compactor, jump in, stomp around a bit, come out and give your teammate the “all clear”.
One night, after a particularly late Saturday, I was tired and just wanted to go home and try to enjoy my weekend. I was the last non-supervisor left on staff when it came time to do the trash run. And, of course, the supervisor didn’t want to help. So, I’m out there tossing all the trash at once – hoping it wouldn’t jam – but it jammed. I hit the cancel button, jumped in and manually compacted it a bit. I got out and hit the compactor button again. It was going along pretty well, then backing out to go again. I didn’t want to wait and do all this shit again, so I jumped in there to help it along.
This was a bad idea. The walls were closing in on me and I’m in the line of fire here. I figured I could just stomp it real quick and jump out. But, when I tried to jump, I was stuck. One of the bags had wrapped itself around my ankle. I was struggling, watching these trash-lined walls come at me from both sides. I was angry with myself. This was going to be how I died, and in the dumbest fucking way possible, all to save myself a measly 2 minutes of work. I struggled, and pulled, and fell down several times, cutting myself on glass beneath me, banging my elbow against the sides. I even yelled “HIT CANCEL!” but no one was around to hear me. G’damn supervisors. Thankfully, the compactor had snagged a piece of the trash bag on its way in and ripped the bag open enough for me to free myself. I fell out onto my back probably 5 seconds before I’d have been made 2-dimensional.
When I lived in Hollywood (from around 2005 to 2014), I lived about 3 blocks from The (formerly known as) Kodak Theatre – where the Oscars are held every year. At the end of my street was the main strip of Hollywood Blvd. It was a scant 3 minute walk to my favorite nightclub – Bar Sinister. Many times I’d stumbled home from one bar or another and have no memory of how I made it home when I woke up the next morning. Every party holiday (New Year’s Eve, Halloween, St Patty’s Day, etc) was easy to plan : just walk down the street and bar-hop. There was always madness going on, always helicopters overhead and cops running around and people screaming and.. one Halloween 3 people got shot on the corner of my street just a few minutes before I was planning to walk to that very corner.
Sometimes on my walk home, my little street would have other random drunks walking around and they’d shout “WHOOO!” or ask for drugs, or just stare at you. One time, I walked past a girl who said the night was too young and that we should go to Bar Sinister (where I’d just been returning from) for a few minutes of dancing. Even though I didn’t dance, she still bought me a drink and we went back to her place to hang out in the hot tub on her rooftop. It’s probably cool things like that happening that made me drop my “Stranger Danger” attitude, which brings us to this brief story.
I’m about 500 feet from the front of my building, walking home a little buzzed, pretty tired. A much drunker man, probably in his 30s, is stumbling around and laughing and saying “HELLO!” to anything in his path. I walk past him and he says “HEY MAN! LEMME GET A HANDSHAKE! NO ONE SHAKES HANDS IN THIS TOWN!”. I thought “well, that’s just silly.. I’ll shake his hand”, so I held out my hand. His eyes widened, he lunged at my hand and held on firm. Laughing and smiling and swinging me around and not letting go of my hand. “I’ve got ya now! HAHAA!”.
Fuck. He did have me. I was too drunk to slip away, and I almost fell a few times. I was using both hands, he was using just one. He reached his hand behind his back and I jumped and was set free. He just kept laughing. “Hahaaaaa… sorry man. that was fun. you okay?” – I said “yeah, I’m… good.”. He offered a hug, saying “c’mon no hard feelings”.
You’d think I was smarter than that. You’d be wrong. He held me in this hug and swung us around and he kept switching up his body position and freeing a hand to places unknown (not on my body, I mean.. I don’t know what he was doing with his own body behind his back). I finally just pulled my arms in and shoved him off. “HAAAAAVE A GOOD NIGHT MAN!” he yelled at the sky and walked away.
Sure, nothing bad happened, but it could have, is my point.