What is it about going to the movies that make people act a fool? Is that once we’ve paid $9.00 for a ticket and $4.50 for a Coke we think we own the place? Or is it that we’ve gotten so used to renting and downloading movies at home that we forget we need to use another set of manners when we are at the movie theater? Jack and girls were watching the last Harry Potter in a theater with a dad who had 4 children from 2 to 12 who talked out loud and ran around the entire movie until an usher asked them to leave. This weekend, at The Help, a woman who was sitting ON THE END OF THE ROW got very angry with me because I had to go by her to get to my seat before the movie even started. She thought by sitting on the end of the row she owned it. She told me to go to the other end of the row, where, by the way, I had to crawl over 8 people!
How do we restore civility to a society? You can’t dictate it or legislate it. I will admit, I did not handle the situation well with the woman in the movie. I got angry and was sharp with her. I needed to have taken a deep breath and gently explained how the movie theater works. All seats are available and each ticketholder is only in control of where they sit, not where anyone else sits. I needed to do this kindly and gently. She was probably in her late sixties and may have just been a crotchety old lady who gripes about everything. She is probably someone’s grandmother. I should have given her that respect.
So as I worked through the last paragraph, I kind of answered my own question about restoring civility. If we respond to rudeness by pointing it out with kindness, unfailingly, every time, then civility may follow. We shouldn’t tolerate inappropriate behavior, but we shouldn’t respond with our own brand of inappropriateness.
This takes work. It takes thinking about it all the time. It takes pausing before you speak and thinking “Is what I am about to say or do KIND?” Help me to do this and our little corner of the world will be a more pleasant place to live – and to go to the movies.