Ok, in the next few days I will write some stuff but here is something that Tony Martin posted on his website: http://www.thescrivenersfancy.com/ written by Sammy J, it is entitled Popcorn

Sammy J June 30, 2010

‘I just need to make this clear. If you serve me that box of popcorn, I will throw it straight in the bin. Are you sure you want to go through with this?’ The girl behind the counter nodded. The cinema foyer went silent. And I handed her my money, as everything I thought I knew about free market economics came crashing down around me.

Three minutes earlier, I’d been standing in line with friends having the customary conversation about how ridiculously expensive and enormous popcorn has become. You’ll be familiar with this conversation; it’s the one you have just before purchasing a ridiculously expensive and enormous box of popcorn. As a society, we have proven ourselves incapable of converting fiscal shock into positive action, looking on gormlessly at the escalating price, occasionally voicing concern before stopping mid-sentence to cram more popcorn into our gobs.

It’s not a new problem. I recall as a child ordering a jumbo popcorn at Mornington Cinema while the manager attempted to convince my mum that Jurassic Park wasn’t suitable for kids. She had to work the night shift to pay off the debt, leaving me home alone with my Velociraptor nightmares. From that point on, our cinema trips were met with strict conditions, and any mention of popcorn would threaten the whole excursion.

But as I grew up, society put a persuasive arm around my shoulder, led me back to the popcorn stand, and convinced me that I would look like a cheapskate and never get a girlfriend if I didn’t partake (the same arguments that led to me smoking, drinking, and waxing my genitals). I was easily influenced, so, just like you, I stopped asking questions, emptied my pockets, and put the price of popcorn into a drawer marked ‘Unsure how to fix this so will continue to tolerate the status quo’ – right next to Daryl Somers and Indigenous health.

That is, until last week. The three of us were standing in line contemplating which of the Ultra Mega Value Funtime Popcorn Deals best suited our budget. This is in itself a demeaning process, rather like being given a choice of position before being forced to make love to a walrus. At any rate, we discovered with satisfaction that the ‘Family Combo’ (4 x Popcorn) was actually cheaper than buying three individual serves. I approached the girl and explained that, though we’d be paying for four, she only needed to serve us three boxes of popcorn. A look of fear shot across her eyes as she told me that this was against company policy.

I realised she must have misunderstood, and was quick to reassure her. ‘Oh, no, we’re not asking for more of anything – we’re asking for less. Just three popcorns is fine.’ Fear turned to panic as she nervously explained: ‘We’re not allowed to alter any of the value deals. Is it okay if I just give you four popcorns?’ I explained that this would be a waste, as we would have to put the fourth box into the bin. She told us we could do whatever we liked with it, but that she was obliged to serve it to us.

There followed one of the most bizarre altercations I have ever been a part of. On a wet Saturday evening in the foyer of Village Cinemas, I found myself furiously asserting my right NOT to receive something for which I had paid. A small crowd gathered to witness the spectacle. The fundamental business/consumer relationship was on the rocks. For a second, it seemed like capitalism might not survive the night.

Then the man behind me interrupted: ‘I’ll have it, if you like’. My heart leapt. I thanked him profusely. He just shrugged as I handed over his ridiculously expensive and enormous box of popcorn, completely free of charge. Gave him the extra Fanta, too. I promised him I would make it up to him one day, and walked off feeling like a naughty school kid who’d gotten away with something. He was left standing face to face with the attendant, each struggling to find the words to complete their thwarted transaction. But, alas, they had nothing left to offer each other. He shuffled off awkwardly. Karl Marx did the chicken dance. And a crowd of onlookers realised that, just maybe, a box of popcorn isn’t quite as valuable as the film industry would have us believe.

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