The Stand

No, Mr. Eckles, I tell you one last time no. No. I will not start the projector for the 1:30 showing of the Sandra Bullock film that we are discussing. I know that you are my immediate supervisor, but as I stand here, I must inform you that every cell inside my body is prepared to rise up and rebel against you concerning this matter. I have never felt as powerfully toward any cause in my long, tumultuous life. To start the projector for the 1:30 showing---“just in case” someone shows up, as you claim is a remote possibility---would be an act of illogic that is unacceptable to my entire values system. If it helps you, we can approach this as a simple mathematical problem: the number of people who are going to enter this theater at 1:30 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon in the third week of an unsuccessful run for this poorly reviewed Sandra Bullock thriller, is, brutally put, zero. This is not a theory, a prognostication, but rather a cold fact that needs no scientific testing, just as it is a fact that we will all die someday, or that your beloved Oakland Raiders truly do suck in every conceivable way. Based on the laws of the marketplace, and the very laws of man’s nature, there can be no scenario, even given the sometimes startling randomness of the universe, which might end with a single ass sitting in screen eight today. For me to spend even thirty seconds starting the projector, then, would be not only absurd, but, if you can somehow understand this, a violation of both my precious time and my very purpose on earth---which has always been to labor silently to bring sense to the chaos around me. I will not become enmeshed in, or victimized by, that chaos because of you, Mr. Eckles. And if some pathetic wipeout of a human being were, perchance, to come stumbling over from Famous Dave’s on the spur of the moment and bewilderingly lay down seven dollars to view this misbegotten, stillborn opus, would we not be accomplices in a nameless crime against that poor soul? Is it not up to us, as first week summer employee and ten-year theater manager, respectively, to step in and protect our patrons from such atrocious decision-making? I can see in your eyes what you’re thinking----that it is not up to us to thwart the free will of those who wish to grace us with their dollars and their good will. I simply disagree. But to return to my original point, there can be no way that I can physically be made to start that projector for the 1:30 showing. I would rather, to save my core beliefs, hurl myself into the machine itself and let it tear my spine asunder, putting an end to this madness of blind faith once and for all. My friend Stu will be here for the 4:15 because I told him he could see the movie for free if he bought something from the concession stand, and then, and only then, will the film proceed through the gears. Until that moment arrives, good sir, consider me a martyr more than willing to die for this cause. Let history show that I, in this one moment, stood tall and said: I believe. Now if you’ll excuse me, my fifteen minute break, that most delicate of vases, is being threatened by this odious, heartrendingly tragic miscommunication. Can you lend me fifty cents for soda?