When free isn’t good enough.
Chris and I belong to the San Francisco Film Society and enjoy lots of perks with our paid membership. Not only do we get first choice for tickets to films in the annual San Francisco Film Festival, but also throughout the year we receive invitations to special movie screenings and parties hosted by the Society. This benefit, if actually used, completely exhausts the cost of the membership – and actually puts us in the green - which is a huge bonus as we are movie aficionados and spend a bit of cash in theatres. Note to self: Need to buy stock in Sony as they own the Metreon.
So tonight I was all set for a special screening of ‘The Weather Man’ starring Nick Cage. Was I dying to see this one – no – but a free movie is a free movie and well, it would give me something to blog about. :) So with my pass in hand – I head off to the AMC 1000 on Van Ness with thoughts of buttered popcorn and Reese’s pieces floating through my mind only to arrive to a line of what seemed to be 500 people trying to get into a theatre that sits 300. Hmmmm…this could be a problem.
This screening was a shared venture between people who actually paid for tickets and those of us who received free passes from the Film Society. Those who paid are golden as they get in no matter what. Those of us on a free pass are trained by the Society to arrive early as seating is limited and it is a first come-first served environment. No worries I thought. I am here 45 minutes early –- they are surely going to let me in. I am invested. I bought my water and my popcorn, so they wouldn’t turn me away. Wrong. After waiting in line for 15 minutes, I catch sight of our Film Society master party planner, Alex, and pose the question….’so Alex, how is it looking tonight?” to which she grimaces and says….’well, if you are at the back of the line, you might make other plans’. So, seeing there was only one person behind me and 499 people ahead of me – I hung my head and headed home.
The 10-minute ride found me stewing about the lack of desirable outcome. Not so much for missing the movie – but for all the effort and ‘expense’ I went through to get there. First a shower. Then the time it took to do my make-up (beauty does not come naturally to me). Don’t even get me started how long it took me to do my hair. Parking in the garage, which even though I was only there for 20 minutes – cost me $2 (of course this is relatively cheap by SF standards). The popcorn and water for $7. Standing in line, the gas it took, etc. Bummer. If I factor in my hourly rate, I realize this free movie just cost me $109 and I didn’t even get to see the show.
In a nutshell, nothing is free regardless of the many claims to the contrary. Every choice has an opportunity cost and that cost is not always monetary.
Sometimes ‘free’ just isn’t good enough.
So I will try again when the next invitation comes around and hope for better luck. Am I willing to show up two hours before the show to ensure I get a seat? No. Even bringing a book would make that a painfully long and uncomfortable wait, as I don’t know any theatre that has splurged on Berber carpeting or comfy cabin chairs. Maybe I can hire some college kid to hold my spot in line for me. Yeah, that’s it. Give them $20 and a bag of popcorn – then my ‘free’ movie only costs me $32 (if I splurged and bought myself some too) in lieu of $109. I am a genius.