Monday, July 26, 2010


Here's another installment of my ongoing series of stories from my time served as a manager at a minimum security movie theater. This episode: The Gold Teeth.

When I went in to apply for a job at the theater, I was specifically looking to get out of the restaurant business, which I had worked in for 15 years. When the GM met me in the upstairs lobby for my interview he said "I see you have a lot of kitchen experience...."
Yeah, so? I was there to get away from kitchens, and that's why I applied to a place that couldn't possibly have one.
He then took me on a tour of the theater's two kitchens.
Ahhhh, just when I thought I was getting out, they sucked me back in. I was hired on the spot and spent the first four months in the kitchen, working my way up from grunt to manager.
The kitchen was a joke. Everything was portioned out, so nobody could screw things up. The fryers were even automated. You just pressed the button with a picture of fries, and the basket would lower into the grease, and then rise up when the timer went off. Somehow, a few of the Rhodes Scholars who worked in the kitchen still managed to screw that up. My dream was to train a crew of chimpanzees to operate the kitchen. I'd put beanies on them and have them roller skate around bringing food out to the customers. Now that would be an entertaining draw!
About three months into my tenure at the theater, I was in the kitchen as usual when a new employee came up to me and said:
"Are you Ernest?"
"Can I see your gold teeth?"
I was in the middle of having my teeth fixed after over a decade of neglect, and I had gotten a gold crown on one of my teeth the week before. It was on my upper right molar (#2 for those aspiring dentists out there keeping score at home) and I couldn't figure out how she could have known about it since it is completely hidden.
"What?" I said.
"Mr. Rob said you had gold teeth."
I only had one, and how the hell did Rob know I had a gold tooth? I hadn't told anybody about it....
"Ahh, ok, I guess" I said as I pulled my cheek way back and let her peer into my mouth.
"Oh yeah." she said, sounding a little disappointed.
I showed her what to do in the kitchen, but the mystery of how Rob knew about my dental work plagued me the whole shift. After work we all met up in the bar next to the theater. I asked Rob how he knew I had a gold tooth.
"What the fuck are you talking about?" was his confused response.
"Latonya said that you told her I had a gold tooth. When you sent her into the kitchen, she wanted to see it."
Rob looked puzzled for a minute, then burst out laughing.
"I told her to go find Ernest in the kitchen. I told her you were a big guy with a goatee."

Next episode: El Chupacabra.

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