How do we feel about this unpublished story?

I got this story in my pipeline and I am wondering if certain details need to be kept in.

Do we need to know the customers are “heavy-set” and does it seem judgemental that they bought snacks for a theater show? Should we assume the customers are lying about having claustrophobia to scam better seats, or should we accept this as a valid complaint?

What do you all think?

Story is below (unedited - this is how I have received it:)


Florida, Theater, USA

I work as a manager for a small performing arts theater. Tonight’s show was sold out with maybe a few empty seats of people that forgot about the show as it has been rescheduled a few times. I get called over to sort out someone’s tickets/seats.

The first words out of their mouths were, “We’re members”

The couple is VERY heavy set, spilling over the seats, both with popcorns, drinks and a snack. To a musical. But I digress.

Me - How can I help you tonight?

Members (m) - were members, and were feeling claustrophobic in these seats.

Me - Im sorry to hear that, but this is a sold out show. I see you do have a Aisle seat which is better than I can attempt to move you to as that will be in the middle of the theater.

M- can’t you move us closer?
(Points to empty seats)

Me - The show doesn’t start for 30 minutes, so many people haven’t gotten here yet, and as the show is sold out those seats are most likely are sold but I can check.

M - as we’re members if we sit closer it would be better, for our claustrophobia

(I call the ticket office and they tell me that all seats have been sold, that we have a couple of house seats open but need to save them for an actual issue)

Me - I spoke to the ticket office and we have to wait to see who shows up, I won’t know until 15-20 minutes after the show started

M - Fine, but make sure you let them know we’re members

The show starts and a whole 60 seconds have passed when the usher comes out to ask if they can be moved. I tell them I don’t know as 20 minutes hasn’t passed.

The ticket office calls me 2 seconds after the usher goes back in and let’s me know I can move them as no disasters have happened tonight.

I waited 21 minutes before I went in to let them know.

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The couple is VERY heavy set, spilling over the seats, both with popcorns, drinks and a snack. To a musical. But I digress.

IMO it seems like OP took time out of the story to insult them for no reason. If their physiques were relevant to the story (e.g. if they couldn’t fit in the chairs or if neighbouring customers complained that they were sitting on them) then I could see why that information would be relevant but there is no such inference.

I could see OP’s pettiness in waiting 20 minutes to move them because they didn’t like the customer’s attitudes causing a bit of a debate too.

6 Likes

I would definitely lose the snack part. Everything else (should you decide to publish) would need to stay, otherwise it looks like you’re ignoring part of what actually happened.

But if you do publish this as NAR, be prepared for a lot of calls to make it NAW too, because as @AlienToasterRepairs said, there is likely to be a fair amount of debate.

I’m not particularly enamoured by the OP deliberately waiting, as it is not fair at all on these two, nor anyone else in the theatre trying to enjoy the performance

5 Likes

I think being “heavy-set” is integral to the story – that’s why they can claim (either truthfully or not) that they feel claustrophobic in their seats. (As for the drinks and snacks, if the venue sells those things when playing a musical, the patrons are welcome to buy them, so it really does feel like an unnecessary aside.)
That said, I feel like the central point is whether there might have been any truth to their complaint, so we should know if those seats closer to the stage were wider.

All in all, on one hand, OP does come off as judgmental and petty, but on the other, IF this happened as reported by OP, the members themselves aren’t exactly behaving that well, trying to get better seats just because they’re members instead of asking politely if there is a chance they could be moved. Claustrophobia or not, if it happens the seats they wanted to take are taken, they are out of luck.
This could be published as a NAR+NAW story after some cleanup (e.g. the digression about the snacks).

5 Likes

Good point, my reading of that was that their claustrophia was more about the positioning of the seats than their size though. It might be clearer if OP suggested that the seats were different (i.e. bigger) at their preferred location because thats the only way this would be anything more than a random insult/judgement - particularly when combined with the commentary about their snacks.

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I feel it would be a valid reason to feel claustrophobic - especially if using it generically and not claiming a legitimate phobia - but then since their claims are being ignored and called fake it makes OP out to be even worse.

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