Posted 3 years ago by
I usually wait to post my own experiences on sites like this one, but I'm switching things up a bit. So, here goes...
Up until a few months ago I worked at a small movie theater for four years. I spent three of those as a regular employee and the last in a management position. Specifically, it was a three-screen in a very small community in Maryland. Sadly, the company shut us down over the summer.
I was very familiar with this theater, as I'd gone to see movies there for my entire life and my first manager was a longtime family friend. (That's actually how I got the job; she saved me from a miserable life of Subway Sandwich artistry.) The building itself was erected in the early 70's and was the crown jewel until a mall theater was installed and the decline was noticeable. For years we kept the original seating, the original curtains and paint. Everything that you could imagine; there were even ashtrays installed into the tiling in the men's room. (What happened to the ladies' I'm not clear about.) The popper wasn't the same, but was a hand-me-down from another theater. I lovingly called her the Dragon Lady because she was the bane of my existence until I learned the finesse. I still have scars from getting burned by her; she was kind of slow to befriend, if you know what I mean. Basically, the theater was unpolished, outdated, but had plenty of character. It was the best job I've ever had and probably will ever have. All of the employees, both past and present, loved it. We didn't have to do things perfectly, we enjoyed our customers and developed relationships with our regulars. (Free popcorn and movies, if we liked you enough.)
When I was a kid I can remember always feeling someone in the bathroom, watching curiously. It could be unnerving, but wasn't ever threatening. And I like to think she respected my privacy. Flash forward to when I had just begun working. At the end of the night, the employee who closes has quite a bit of work to do. Cleaning the popper, soda machine, all of the bits and pieces, stocking, sweeping and mopping...the list goes on. Generally speaking it would take me about an hour and a half in the beginning, but closer to forty minutes as I developed my routine. There truly was an art to it. Anyway, when I was new I would feel someone watching me. Especially when I was cleaning the Dragon Lady; there was a strong masculine presence overseeing my work and my thoroughness. I had a fear that I would turn around and see a man or at the sink, standing behind me in the mirror. That never happened, but the door to the upstairs would open sometimes. The first time I flew upstairs and asked my manager if she had come down. When she said no and I started getting worked up into a panic, she told me about one of our ghosts, Mr. Less. She had hundreds of stories about him and even pretty much knew who he had been in life, the very first manager the theater had ever had. He'd been mixed up into some shady things but LOVED his job. That's when I put two-and-two together and realized that he was, in fact, making sure I was worthy of working there. I like to think of it as my second "unofficial" training. Apparently, he did approve of me because I never intimidated by him or frightened after I knew about him.
Then one night, I was going back downstairs from clocking out and out of the corner of my eye I saw a man, portly and wearing a golf style hat. I whipped my head around to look at the middle platform and no one was there. When I turned back around to bolt down the rest of the steps, I heard a man say, "hello!" When I approached my assistant manager who was working the shift with me, he wasn't surprised by it. I should say again that I never once felt threatened by Mr. Less. Initially, there were several times I was uncomfortable enough to call my mom. She advised me one night just to tell him how I felt. What came out was something like this: "Mr. Less, you're kind of making it difficult for me to work and I know how much you like the job to be done well, and I'd like it if you could ease up a bit. I know you're here and that's okay, but I don't want to be afraid anymore." And after that "conversation" the watching got less intense and the creeping up my spine stopped altogether.
Each employee had many experiences at the theater, some creepy and some just playful. To name just some of these briefly, my manager had a really unique bond with Mr. Less, and once played with her hair while she was sitting on a bench talking to a friend, who also witnessed her hair moving. Notebooks would be misplaced and then found somewhere totally random, doors would open and close by themselves, sometimes you'd even see a man sitting in one of the theaters just watching the show (you'd blink and he wouldn't be there anymore.), lights would turn on and off...
Eventually though, the activity got to be more unpredictable. That's when we invited a paranormal investigative team come in. I don't think Mr. Less was responsible for the increased activity, but rather our second, less stable ghost: Her. I'll tell you all about her and the events that occurred that inspired us to seek help in another post. My experiences with the theater weren't limited to one or two, but seemed to happen continuously for the entirety of my employment there. I'll mention some of the other employees' experiences as well, but I had to introduce you to the spirit who was in my opinion, a really good boss. I've got more Mr. Less stories as well, which I intend to tell.
If you've read this, thank you. I think it is important that we hear of positive presences, because of the sheer amount of truly horrific things that can happen to people. Not all ghosts are bad or evil, demons or poltergeists. And not all of them want to torment people, some of them, like Mr. Less, just want to be validated and known. It breaks my heart to think of him at the theater, by himself in an empty building. But maybe, for him, the theater isn't ever closed down. I like to think that when he looks at the screens, a movie still plays for him.