Bryn :: Code Black

I do love Cineworld. After poking fun at my fellow Unlimited card holders who inhabit the monstrous tower that is Europe’s tallest cinema (it holds some record like that; tallest, largest, yellowist etc), yesterday the staff gave me reason to chortle. The occasion was a trip to see The Iron Lady, the Mrs Thatcher story, a great film that dwells a bit too much on the present and her Alzheimer’s to be a comfortable watch. The best line Mrs T delivers is when discussing the age of celebrity we are now in, “it used to be that people wanted to do something, now they want to be someone”.

Anyway, my Barry Normanesque extended film review is by-the-by. I was meeting Tony to watch the film and, as I was there first, I sorted the tickets out. I didn’t have to pay for my ticket as I have the Unlimited card and I had a gift card from Christmas which I used to pay for Tony’s. When the moment came to use the gift card, I swiped it as instructed by the till assistant (read in a bored voice – “when the screen lights up sir, when the screen lights up”). It didn’t work. We swiped slowly, quickly, upside down, standing on one leg. All to no avail. She resorted to typing in the card number and everything was fine.

We escalated to floor 5 and Screen 12, pausing to pick up a Jumbo Nacho Combo each. Pausing isn’t the word. Stalling is better. Another bored till assistant who gave the impression he was well inside his comfort zone. Until the defective gift card was produced.

He asked me to swipe it when the screen lit up. It lit, I swiped, it gave a discouraging beep. Undaunted, and keen to show me to be an inept swiper, the till assistant took the card from me and swiped, and swiped, and swiped.

Three times I said, “this happened downstairs. There is a problem with the card.”

He summoned his fellow till assistant, suggesting there was something wrong with the card reader. He too started swiping with a swipe which had a very elegant flourish to it.

Twice more I said, “this happened downstairs. There is a problem with the card.”

The second till assistant said, “I will get another card reader.”

In the firmest voice I could muster, and to make myself heard over the giggling Tony, I repeated, “THIS HAPPENED DOWNSTAIRS, THERE IS A PROBLEM WITH THE CARD.”

They looked at me. At each other. At the card.

The first one said, “there must be a problem with the card.”

They conferred and agreed they should type the card number into the system. Our main man, who was now well outside his comfort zone, tried deducting the £13.47 due off the card (one of the many questions posed by this whole episode is how two identical Jumbo Nacho Combos can come to a total which is an odd number). The till pinged positively and a till receipt whirred out. Success.

“Thank you very much sir, enjoy your film.” he said returning my card to me.

I was puzzled. “the food cost £13.47. The card only had £8.10 credit.”

The boy looked at the screen with fear. He put his lapel mic to his mouth and uttered words which will live with me forever.

“Supervisor. We have a Code Black.”

I nearly wet myself. I am not sure if it was fear or laughter.

The Supervisor turned up quickly with two assistant Supervisors. We weren’t arrested. The Supervisor retained my gift card and we retained two Jumbo Nacho Combos and we were released to watch our film. All was well.

But we didn’t find out what a Code Black was. It sounds serious. The Chicago marathon has four levels from Green (good running conditions) to Black (abandoned). In isolation, “abandoned” doesn’t sound overly horrifying. However, bear in mind the less serious tier which precedes Black in Chicago is Red. Red means “risk of death”. So Black is serious poo, and people who watch films and work for cinemas know that.

Maybe the Cineworld Rule Book was written in the 70s when two rough looking Irishmen with bags was considered a major threat? Or maybe Cineworld has eliminated threats so successfully that the most serious problem they encounter is a defective magnetic strip. If so, as Tony said “I wonder what Code Mauve is”.

Bryn D Williams
07977 469089

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