A new movie theatre, the Alamo Drafthouse, has been on its way to my neighborhood for months. Maybe years. I signed up for its loyalty program before I even fully comprehended where it would be located because wherever it was, it was going to be closer to my house than any other movie theatre. And unless it was going to be all horror movies all the time, that made me already loyal.*
It turns out that it is even closer than I thought. Five blocks. Five. It's also bigger than I thought. Five screens. Five. And they serve food and cockails there. More than five things, probably, so we're going to have to let that go, but you get the general idea. I'm excited. The theatre doesn't officially open until Thursday, but having been loyal since before loyalty was even a practicable option put me on the inside track for some specials. Advance notice. Special five dollar (5) (That one just sneaked in.) screenings of things that my schedule won't allow me to actually attend this week, but enticing nonetheless. A deal where, if you bought a gift card by a certain date, you'd get a food voucher.
I am as thrifty as I am loyal, so you can bet I bought a gift card. For myself. Perhaps not quite the holiday spirit, but that food voucher is all mine now. Seconds after i bought the gift card, I used it to buy my first movie ticket, practically cackling with glee over my cleverness. Star Wars. The evening my winter vacation starts. Tra la la and hooray for me.
Only after I hit "confirm" and printed my ticket, (I still print things. Shut up.) did I open my calendar to discover that I already had a celebratory first-night-of-vacation outing planned. And this is why, fair readers, I recommend that you check your calendar before you buy tickets to things. This is not the first time I've made this mistake. I seem to have the impression that I do nothing with my time, when, in fact, I already have some theatre tickets for June. The calendar is just full of useful reminders like that.
I had no idea whether they would allow me to exchange my ticket. Nowhere on the site did it say they would, but it didn't expressly say they wouldn't. However, the theater was not yet open for business so there was no one to ask. Would I have to eat the cost of this (quite expensive) ticket, ultimately losing money on the already slightly pathetic gift card to myself/ $10 food voucher maneuver? It was, as they say in the movie business, a cliffhanger.
My big plan was to throw myself on their mercy, deploy charm, and remind them how steadfastly loyal I'd been to them before we'd even met. It seemed important that I make my plea before their sold-out Star Wars frenzy of an opening day, but I've got a lot going on this week. It had to be tonight. I worked late and drove straight to the theatre with a fist full of print outs: original ticket, gift card, and, just in case, food voucher.
I parked directly in front. In movies, of course, this happens to people wherever they go, but in urban real life, it is reasonable to regard this as a particularly good omen. I strode in to what is truly an enormous lobby and prepared to tell the sad story of my own ineptitude. I had barely begun when they said, "You want to exchange it? No problem." You know what? I have a feeling they would have done it for just anyone. Loyalty schmoyalty.
I was grateful and they were accommodating and everything was swell until nothing worked. The refund should have posted to the something and the ticket should have printed to the something else and the transaction number this and the error message that. What with one thing and another, I was there for a half an hour. A half an hour during which handsome bearded men (they employ nothing but handsome bearded men, it seems. I personally dealt with no fewer than six, including one who thought I had previously managed a theatre in Austin. I haven't.) called me by name, apologized profusely, and commended me for my extraordinary good nature. I was having a lovely time, but they didn't believe me.
So great was their disbelief that they gave me a free voucher. To use for any movie. Whenever I want. Ha HA.
So, to sum up:
1. I exchanged my ticket
2. I got a $4 refund for moving from an evening to a matinee screening
3. I got the attention of numerous handsome, young men for a fairly extended period of time
4. The (handsome, bearded) manager gave me his card, lest something go awry with the, admittedly, very goofy hand-written ticket I now have
5. (five!) I got a free movie voucher.
So, contrary to the original "check your calendar" lesson I tried to foist on you earlier, I guess the real moral is, be an idiot. It totally pays.
*Some of my faithful readers, by which I mean one, may bridle at this and wonder where my loyalty is really. To this reader let me say, the Castro will always have my heart and if you give me a good reason, I will always show up at the Roxie.