Sunday, February 05, 2012

The Benefits of Being an Asshole

"Sometimes I park in handicapped spaces,
While handicapped people make handicapped faces.
I'm an asshole (He's an asshole, what an asshole)
I'm an asshole (He's a real fucking asshole)"

Asshole (1993) by Denis Leary

Does it make me an asshole that this song amuses me?

I just punched out an overnight shift playing doctor in the Female Surgical Ward to a beautiful blue-skied Saturday morning. After a serviceable free breakfast at the dietitians' office pantry, I envisioned a good time at the movies so I made my way, by my winsome lonesome, to the mall which hosts the least depressing movie theatre on this side of Borneo. The 12:30 PM screening of Spielberg's War Horse was the beast I intended to catch.

Afternoons are perfect for movie matinées because the halls would be habitually unpeopled, and I will not feel the frost of my mortality while I wait at the box office queues. "Un billet, s’il vous plaît," I asked in English when it was my turn and I was informed, to my horror and indignation, that the hall in which the film was playing was reserved exclusively for couples, pairs and deuces only - and that if I must trespass into that turf for twosomes, I was obliged to pay double.

Essential background info: the Kuching MBO cineplex has this one stupid theatre which was retooled to host twin seats for people who wants to touch each other when they are not-watching a movie so they can charge them an extra buck. Like so many other decisions of the chief executive cretins that run the company, it was avaricious, shortsighted, and betrays an uncommon lack of business sense. Just take a look at their recently redesigned official homepage: it's a case study in how not to design a website. It runs entirely on Flash (necessitating a long loading time), autoplays loud stock noises, features klunky pixels and colours from the early 90's, and massively obstructive navigation. Some old fart probably saw it and okayed it because he thought it looked cool, dynamic and hep. That same old fart probably still has an active Friendster account, wondering where everyone went.

I know that the couples' theatre is a scheme which lost MBO more potential potential profit than it earned them. An average screening will see about one quarter of its seats occupied by duos and evens (this being an optimistic projection) while they turn away singles, trios and odd parties which would have gladly paid to fill out all those other vacant seats for them.

Anyway, I started ringing friends up - but 15 minutes, as notices go, was pretty short and not a single one of my on-and-off movie-going mates could come through for me. Having exhausted that option, I toyed with the idea of waiting at the box office till another odd number comes along wanting to see War Horse as well, but the crowd was quite thin that day. As half past twelve loomed ever closer, I knew drastic actions were in order. You see, I had just completed a seventeen-hour shift. If I want to see a Steven Spielberg movie that's going to make me weep like a newly-deflowered maiden, then you can wager your donkey that I was going to get my way.

"I would like to speak to your manager," I told the box office attendant, smiling politely as I did so. She seemed cowed and explained that nothing could be achieved by that because of their ticketing system was rigged in such a way which made it impossible to sell odd numbers of tickets for that particular theatre. Yes, "impossible" was the word she used. Challenge accepted.

Don't worry, I mouthed and shooed her along.

In a moment, the "manager" in the shape of a surprisingly young lady appeared. I introduced myself, shook her warmly by the hand, and proceeded to lay my grievance on her. She repeated that same bullshit apologetically about how the system was programmed and that if I want to see War Horse that day, I must purchase two tickets. Still smiling, I told her, "Clearly, you aren't authorised to make any useful decisions here. Please show me to someone who can."

She then flagged down this unassuming chap in a company polo neck and presented him to me, and after exchanging niceties (I always make it a point to do that), I unloaded a speech, all in one explosive burst of verbal diarrhoea, that I had been drafting in my head the whole time. Like so:

"I am a regular patron of your cinema and I come weekly - frequently more than once - to catch the new features because I'm something of a film enthusiast. Today, I want to see War Horse. I looked up the showtimes online. Then, I drove all the way from my house to get here, only to find out that this film is screening in the couples' hall and that I can't see it without paying for two - a crucial piece of information which was not mentioned on your website or any other film sites that carry your schedule. This had happened a few times before and I was forced to watch something else or go home. I just saw the seat availability for the 12:30 PM show, and you had only sold two pairs of tickets so far. You are obviously running at a loss and I am obviously rather pissed. So my question, Mr H, is what can you do for me?"

An Asshole Shitting on Someone
It went down pretty much like this.

It was a little too grandiloquent for standard Malaysian parlance but I aimed to intimidate. And you can't argue with the results.

"Okay, we are aware of this problem because we had gotten complaints before. We are changing our policy but till then, please be patient with us, sir. Right now, you can watch the movie," he said and immediately ordered the box office girl to sell me two tickets for the price of one. Impossible my ass.

I actually had a second hell-and-brimstone speech in reserve involving consumer associations, smear campaigns and nuclear PR fallouts had the first one failed. I also had plans on escalation and making him put me through to his superiors in their headquarters if he proved to be incompliant. You see, I really, really wanted to watch War Horse.

Also, don't fuck with me when I'm post-call.

P.S. Having held three jobs (and technically a fourth now) in the service industry - including one in a cinema - I feel totally justified in being a teensy-weensy bit demanding and difficult when I deal with customer service representatives. If you, like me, run into this same problem with the Kuching branch of MBO, you are welcome to try brute-forcing your way through the way I did.

Asshole par excellence,
k0k s3n w4i


yuhhui said...

* salutes*

synical said...

That form of discrimination sucks balls. WTH. That is messed up.

But good on you for sticking it to them about it.

Atlantisian said...

Thats a good one!! Its ridiculous to have such "policy" in place.

Hope you have enjoyed the movie ;)

McGarmott said...

... Do newly-deflowered maidens always weep?

Liz said...

What kind of a policy is THAT? That is seriously STUPID. >.<

Anyway, kudos to you! Wish I had the balls to be an "asshole" sometimes! *sigh*

Liz said...

Oh, btw, LOVE the illustration you did for an "asshole"!!!! xD Hilarious!

fevrier said...

you know i don't comment. you know i have no things to say to you.

but, today i called up my letting agents and did what my housemates describe as 'ripped into them'. i was going through another fit of being really annoyed with the living conditions of this house. i've thought about it so much in the last term and a half. two of my housemates could hear bits of the other side, and they could tell the woman on the other end couldn't be bothered to deal with me and passed me on to her manager instead. the manager was a lot easier to deal with, he let or had no choice but to hear me rant about everything that was faulty with the house and said he would come over tomorrow to see the issues i was addressing and then bring it up with the landlord. one of my housemate's friends said it was good in this situation to have someone older because they deal with it much better than they could, take it out and still carry a point across. hard to believe.

k0k s3n w4i said...

yuhhui: *bows*

synical: it's not the discrimination that bugged me. it's the fact that it got between me and my entertainment, grrr.

Atlantisian: might write about it, but it was a tad disappointing, to be honest. still made we weep though.

McGarmott: does watching steven spielberg films always make you weep? my point exactly.

Liz: just something i threw together to make this post less monotonous. i'm sure you can stand for yourself when you need to. it just takes a bit of outrage ;)

fevrier: and yet here you are, saying a bunch of things :) i never had trouble getting my points across no matter how young i was. i think it's just a matter of being assertive, eloquent, and appear matured beyond your years.

Liz said...

Ahaha, when I first read your reply, I read "it just takes a bit of courage" then I suddenly realized you'd said, "outrage" and that made me LOL! xD

c3rs3i said...

It's this kind of idiocy not to mention narrow-mindedness and rigidity that really winds me up about Malaysia and its people sometimes.

I once bought tickets to GSC for my friends and I only to have Mid Valley go into full lockdown (random unannounced road closures) in the hour between my purchase and the start of the movie such that my friends weren't able to get in.
The staff refused to refund or even exchange those tickets for a later time until I unleashed a tirade of exactly how ridiculous I thought they were being - Then, I got all my money back.
Such exertion on my behalf was really so unnecessary, it really annoys me when I have to waste my time and breath like that.

k0k s3n w4i said...

Liz: laughed out loud? really? that's outrageous!

c3rs3i: i worked in a cinema before, so i know there's no point speaking to the ground level staff - they aren't allowed to make any decisions. always get the manager for these sort of things. still, when i manned the box office, i sometimes help patrons to "refund" by selling their tickets for them.