I was sitting in the front desk at the box office. I always had a mixed feelings about working on show nights. I got to dressed up very nicely. It was an unspoken rule for the theater people. It was not a movie cinema, it was a theater. And show nights were always the special nights that everyone put all their best efforts in to make happen. To show respect, you at least look decent at the theater. That was the good side. On the other hand, I had to work nights. Nobody wanted to work nights, but I was ok with the extra cash. So I ended up working quite a bit of show nights.
If you thought all the people that came to the theater were rich and well-behaved, you were wrong. Theater was a little pickier of a hobby because it did require some extra money to afford the tickets. But all the people who showed up to only watch one shows, all the rich people that thought they were better than others, all the weird people, they were still everywhere. The two things I dreaded most about working show nights were: before we let people into the auditorium/the actual theater and right after we turned off the lights. Just like many other theaters, we didn’t let people come into the auditorium when the lights were already off and the show was about to begin. Having to keep denying people their “rights” to come see the show when they had their tickets was never an easy thing to do. So much yelling. On the other hand, many people came to the shows early, sometimes because they had to pick up tickets from the box offices or because they had to wait to their friends to come in together. That was also a problem. We kept them all waiting near the box office area, in the lobby because the auditorium wasn’t opened. And they always came up to the box office, constantly asking for when they could get in. “Why can’t you just let us in now?” was a constant. Again, did I mention they were rich?
I was in the box office, sitting in the front desk. I was politely taking care of a line of people trying to pick up their tickets. It wasn’t anything bad. I was having a decent night. Then it was an old gentleman’s turn. He was so tiny. His curved back made him look even smaller in the faded light of the theater. He came to the counter and he greeted me with a smile. I always liked a polite customer. He said he hasn’t seen me around. I said I worked show nights sometimes and may be we just missed each other. He said he came for every show, he had a season ticket. And I knew immediately why he was in line waiting for me. Season ticket holder often had their tickets with us so they didn’t have to keep a big stack of tickets with them. I asked him was that what he needed help with. And he said yes.
“But…,” he called for me while I started turning away to look for his tickets. I stopped and asked him what he needed.
“Uhm…I won’t need both the tickets,” I said, “our…my season ticket had a pair and I only need one today.”
I found his envelope with his season ticket. There were always two tickets for every show. I asked him if he would like me to keep that ticket for someone else that would come in later.
“No…,” his voice got so quiet, “it was for my wife but she passed away recently, and I don’t need that ticket anymore.”
I got quiet. He knew he said something that made the atmosphere awkward. He quickly added “But don’t throw it away. Please give it to the next person that come in and need a ticket. My wife would like that.”
He was still smiling but my heart ached. I gave him his ticket. I watched him walked away into the darkness of the auditorium. His little body seemed even smaller and my heart was heavier. I thought about all the things I complained about in my life and all seemed so trivial.