Stash Your Trash

There are two types of people in the world: those who listen to the spiel about the Empire Theatres Stash Your Trash program and think it’s a good idea, and obey by placing their cinema trash in the containers provided, and those, like me, who refuse to act as a corporate shill, and enthusiastically leave their trash under the seats as God intended.

If the full trash cans are any indication, mindless conformity is winning, and few are profiting from the ironic delights of disobeying corporate garbage policy.


Steven Garrity's picture
Steven Garrity on July 27, 2003 - 17:55 Permalink

There is something about the little speech that the Empire Theatres that makes you, regardless of age or maturity level, want to heckle them. Many do. I was at the movies recently with someone my age, and an oldie-olsen (40+). He confirmed that the heckling urge does indeed span generations.

I’m told that during the Matrix movie, an employee dressed as an “agent” from the matrix did the Stash Your Trash talk. I can only imaging: “Please stash your matrix-trash in the matrix-can — to the extreme!”

Andrew Chisholm's picture
Andrew Chisholm on July 27, 2003 - 18:12 Permalink

You see, I’m a janitor at a mall in Halifax. Most of my employment is based around lazy people who litter and make a mess. If every one in the world went by the law and did not litter just think of how few janitors we would have? If every one listened to the empire trash stash B.S then we would have a lot less kids in employment at the local movie theaters.

Millions of dollar in people wages are based around lazy people… To think. Crime helps the economy grow.

Mandy's picture
Mandy on July 27, 2003 - 18:15 Permalink

Mr Rukavina.

I don’t feel that being polite and putting your trash away has anyting to do with giving in and letting “mindless conformity” win anything. It’s garbage.

How would you feel if gawd forbid you lost this site and and your job and everythng you had and needed to work at this movie theatre to get by and feed Oliver? Would you be happy with picking up after people night after night? I know I sure would not. I think it’s extremely rude to leave your trash around. I work in a public place and believe me, I don’t make nearly enough money to go around cleaning up after people who are simply to lazy to pick up after themselves. And I work in a card shop, I can’t even imagine how those poor kids must feel picking up popcorn and cups all the time. Yuck.

I suggest you go try it for a day. See how minldess you feel then. If this post was simply meant to push buttons, it has. I can tell you this, nothing bugs me more then rude people.

Andrea's picture
Andrea on July 27, 2003 - 18:27 Permalink

and those, like me, who refuse to act as a corporate shill, and enthusiastically leave their trash under the seats as God intended.”

I hope this is all supposed to be a joke…

Mandy's picture
Mandy on July 27, 2003 - 18:29 Permalink

One can only hope..

if not, what part of the Bible tells me to leave my trash under my seat at my local theater??

you know, I’m utterly and truly blown away with this post. wow.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on July 27, 2003 - 20:50 Permalink

Like I said, there are two types of people in this world…

nathan's picture
nathan on July 27, 2003 - 21:33 Permalink

Peter, you don’t seem to be the type that would throw garbage out the window of your car or litter while walking down the sidewalk on car-free Monday. While I did detect some sarcasm in your post, what is it about a movie theater that makes you just want to throw your garbage on the ground? Do you also
“rebel” in other corporately-owned public spaces? Is it because the rules are presented so explicitly that you feel compelled to break them? Actually I’m surprised that you even purchase the overpriced snacks at Empire. And finally, do you leave garbage on the floor of City Cinema?

Steven Garrity's picture
Steven Garrity on July 27, 2003 - 21:45 Permalink

Yeah, nathan, it is the way they present the rules. It’s not presented as a reminder of common courtesy. Rather, it is presented as a condescending cost-saving measure that feels like it was conjured up in a board-room by people that have never been to their own theatres, much to the horror of those unfortunate souls who have to tell the audiences about it each night.

You mentioned City Cinema. They seem to have their own customer-as-janitor policy, though it is not blatantly announced. I ordered an affordable hot tea while at City Cinema, and I accidentally spilled it (all) at my feet before the movie started. Slightly scalded, I went to tell the person at the counter that I had a spill so it could be cleaned up. I was handed a replacement tea, at no charge, and a bucket with a sponge in it. No joke. Surprised and a little confused, I went back to my seat and cleaned up the mess I made. This was all very amusing to my girlfriend, who got to watch me return to my seat with a bucket and sponge.

Keepin’ it real, I guess.

Mandy's picture
Mandy on July 27, 2003 - 22:20 Permalink

Seems to me if it’s that much of a hassle to go to the movies, don’t go.

I’m sure Empire Theaters wouldn’t need their little speech at the begging of the movie if people were responsible and cleaned up after themselves. It’s pretty sad when they have to treat a room full of mostly adults like a room full of children, with constant verbal reminders, but that really sad thing is that they do actually HAVE to do this. (because of people like you Mr Rukavina). It’s like stealing.. the more people do that, the more prices go up for the rest of us. You don’t want he speech, clean up. Seems simple enough to me.

An I agree, it does seem to be two types of people in the world: The ones who sit on their high horses thinking they are better then everyone else, and the ones who have to clean up after them. And if that’s the case, I’d rather conform. At least I’ll feel good about myself at the end of the day.

Alan's picture
Alan on July 27, 2003 - 22:53 Permalink

Unlike most things I post about, I actually did usher and what I don’t understand is why they would make the announcement. After every show, we who ushed for ye got out the big brooms and swept up all the floors under the seats every night. If there was a little or a lot we swept the same space and took pretty much the same time: popcorn does not tend to weigh a lot and it is difficult to rush sweeping under theater seats regardless volume of the junk. I wouldn’t bitch if someone unloaded a pile of junk. It was the job. I got paid. It was actually a nice time in the shift when we ushers joked around with each other. Why would I tick off the crowd by implying behaviour was inconvenient when it was neutral.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on July 28, 2003 - 01:19 Permalink

The indignation in evidence here must represent a generational divide: when I was a kid, movie theatres didn’t even have garbage cans, because it was simply assumed you were to leave your trash on the floor. It was part of the fun of going to the movies — I remember my mother explaining it all to me, with delight in her voice.

In those days, any movie theatre worth its salt had a floor sticky with years of soda syrup and popcorn build-up.

These days movie theatres are “family entertainment complexes,” and, like Times Square, they’re all tarted up and antiseptic. And largely absent of the heart and soul that used to inhabit them.

The contorted “let’s all march together towards purity, and if you have any problems with the volume let me or any of our team know” speech is simply another part of this slide.

What’s depressing is that Empire Theatres has so effectively leveraged the current trend towards “total cleanliness” (see also anti-bacterial baby wipes, soap, toothpaste and lawn furniture) in order to get their patrons to do something that was originally part of their job — part of the experience that one paid for when going out to the show. And they didn’t even lower ticket prices to compensate.

Frankly, I’m shocked at the degree to which you have all been assimilated.

Wayne's picture
Wayne on July 28, 2003 - 02:13 Permalink

When I was a kid, Saturday afternoon matinee Tarzan and King Kong movies would not be the same without flinging the flattened popcorn boxes thru the air, creating dozens of flashing shadows across the screen.

Those were the “best of times”.

I wish rather then play on the conciousness of patrons by hiding behind some greater social good of being a good citizen by using the trash bin, the theatres would be honest enough to come right out and say it helps keep costs and ticket prices down if you clean up after yourself.

Christopher's picture
Christopher on July 28, 2003 - 02:42 Permalink

Island wrath is rising against you Peter. We have smoke cops, bicycle helmet cops, headland cops, Waste Management cops, bed & breakfast cops: haven’t you figured it out? They are recreating 1500 Calvinist Geneva with political correctness rather than Protestantism as the bar for defining heresy. The real thing is the pleasure in telling other people what to do…

Isaac's picture
Isaac on July 28, 2003 - 03:49 Permalink

I don’t think I’ve ever actually left trash on the floor at a theatre — but I certainly feel more than annoyed when I get that speech at the beginning of entertainment that I’ve paid for. The very idea of them asking me to do, what truthfully is — their job — it drives me batty. Has nothing to do with my own habits of leaving a mess (although I think Peter is right on this being somewhat a generational thing). And like Steven pointed out — its not presented as a reminder of common curtosy — it seems obvious that the reasoning behind it is connected to percieved cost savings. And it certainly doesn’t help that its receited out by some pimply 15 year old (thank god I’m now just a pimply 23 year old) that just wants to get it over with.

I’m not sure if this practice is an empire theatre’s thing, or just an empire theatre’s Charlottetown thing, or what — but I know I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere else in Canada. Anybody else noticed it at any other theatre?

Dan James's picture
Dan James on July 28, 2003 - 04:34 Permalink

A humorous side — actual exchange at the movies:

Highschool Employee (male) making his speech: “If you have any problems with the temperature or sound levels please let me know”

Junior High girl (in a row full of friends): “Excuse me, I have a problem with the temperature…..You’re HOT!”

Justin's picture
Justin on July 28, 2003 - 04:48 Permalink

I feel for those people whose boss makes them do that embarrassing little speech. They’re not getting paid enough to be heckled by the likes of me. And I do heckle.

Maybe it’s all a ploy to get us to buying the concessions: they’re priced so high lately that they need to play on your sense of disobedience to goad you into buying, if only to have some to litter with. I’m thinking of going into a life of crime to pay for my popcorn/soda litter habit.

Or, how about this theory: Maybe, like me, everyone secretly would take out their own trash but a culture of movie going that’s a hundred years old makes us leave trash where we sat. Now they’re giving us an out because they know that peer pressure is so strong in the movie theatre that is encompasses all ages and no one will be first to carry out trash unless it’s The Law. Now I can be suave and debonnaire with trash in one hand and date in the other… if I could afford the trash… afford the date… sob.

Aww hell, they’re gonna sweep and mop anyway. Garbage cans are nastier business than sweeping, at least I think so… my resume includes lot’n’lobby duties at fast food and convenience stores: gimme a broom and mop over bags and cans anyday.

Ken's picture
Ken on July 28, 2003 - 05:42 Permalink

Movies are escapism not homeroom.

Empire can lick my nuts off the floor for all I care, but I haven’t been to anywhere but city cinema in over a year.

Wayne's picture
Wayne on July 28, 2003 - 11:00 Permalink

Famous Players and Empire Theatres, both in Moncton, hide behind the same facade of people with better morals and character will dispose of the over-priced trash in receptables provided, all in the name of more profits. And, also, pay to sit thru commercials of upcoming movies. (which are usually better then the movies)

marcus's picture
marcus on July 28, 2003 - 13:29 Permalink

I think it’d be better if Empire just had a big drain down near the stage and didn’t have seats with upholstery or carpeting in the theatres, then just release a few hundred gallons of premium Winter River Basin groundwater (aka Charlottetown Water Utility) and flush out everything from beneath the seats into the sewers and then let the pollution control plant deal with it — or just let it float into the harbour like we do here in Halifax (and in Charlottetown whenever it rains really hard). This would get rid of the trash and the sticky floors at the same time.

Presto finito! Cheers from fogland.

Derek M.'s picture
Derek M. on July 28, 2003 - 14:56 Permalink

I’m told some theatre use leaf blowers.

D. McKie's picture
D. McKie on July 28, 2003 - 18:17 Permalink

Perhaps I am missing something, but it would seem to me that the “Stash your Trash” program has more to do with Waste Watch than profits. Setting aside the fact that only a complete pig would just drop garbage at his feet and expect someone else to clean it up, I would assume that this program was put in place as a method of having the trash separated correctly. How would you like to have separate the swept up popcorn from the sticky chocolate bar rappers at the end of the night?

Oliver B's picture
Oliver B on July 28, 2003 - 18:27 Permalink

I haven’t seen or heard Empire’s presentation, and I doubt I’ll actually be adding to what’s already been said, but moralizing always provokes me. So here’s how I see the issues: As others have pointed out, a person or a company can urge you to do a sensible thing for a selfish reason. I think it’s perfectly reasonable for a listener to be annoyed by this behavior—especially when the urging is disguised as earnestness. With regard to Empire specifically, the sensibility of what it is urging customers to do is far from obvious: If ushers are glad to have employment as ushers, and if they are not feeling demeaned by the customers who litter in particular, then I think we can only judge movie littering with respect to convention. The posts above show that some people see movie littering as culturally appropriate and others don’t. There just isn’t a universal convention—and I don’t think you will find “Thou shalt not litter at the movies” in the King James, the Koran or the Vedas either. So Empire has every right to advocate a convention, and others have every right to support them, but if Empire and their supporters can’t make an attractive and compelling pitch (e.g. “Litterers will burn in Hell!” is not attractive), that’s just tough luck for them.

Isaac's picture
Isaac on July 28, 2003 - 20:38 Permalink

I’m almost certain that the speech was in place well before waste watch (but then again, I’m using my memory, and unreliable resource at best).

Wayne's picture
Wayne on July 28, 2003 - 20:58 Permalink

No waste watch in Moncton…same speech there. It has absolutely nothing to do with Waste Watch, or littering or good citizen crap…although tree huggers and mosquito lovers would rush to embrace this rigid garbage-police approach. It is all about getting you to do more of the work you have paid to have done in the past. Although you still pay for it, you now do it yourself. And why not? The banks have been doing this for years…

Alan's picture
Alan on July 28, 2003 - 21:25 Permalink

That is just about it, Wayne. Well put.

Kevin's picture
Kevin on July 29, 2003 - 13:30 Permalink

When I’m being swallowed and sucked into the eternal abyss of pure assimilation, and with one last failing grasp I lunge back through the portal into the fading light beyond, and as my hand flails for something — just a nugget — of that tender morsel of freedom and independence, I’ll have considered the entire schema from alpha to omega to have been a farce and a hoax on my person should it be that all I can pull back is my right to crap on someone else’s floor.

Confused's picture
Confused on July 29, 2003 - 17:33 Permalink

Can you say that in english please Kevin?

Chris's picture
Chris on July 29, 2003 - 17:57 Permalink

I side with Peter.

nathan's picture
nathan on July 29, 2003 - 22:29 Permalink

I understand you Kevin. Well said.

Oliver B's picture
Oliver B on July 29, 2003 - 23:20 Permalink

I never said what I think of littering at the movies. The litter pick-up at the movies is never perfect, not the least aspect of which is that floors stay sticky—which I hate—and another aspect of which is that I’m forced to wonder sometimes if an abandoned drink is there to save someone’s place or whether my friends and I can all sit in a row, so actually I’d rather people didn’t litter at the movies.

Alan's picture
Alan on July 29, 2003 - 23:54 Permalink

Words I never thought I would read: “I understand you Kevin”.

Mandy's picture
Mandy on July 30, 2003 - 00:54 Permalink

Leave it to Nathan.. he gets it.

nathan's picture
nathan on July 30, 2003 - 03:39 Permalink

I usually just skim over Kevin’s comments as I’m sure most of you do too. This time, after seeing the comment by “Confused”, I re-read it slowly and it not only made sense but it was an elegant conclusion to a messy debate.

Oliver B's picture
Oliver B on July 30, 2003 - 03:50 Permalink

Let me see if I got this elegance straight: It was an ironic statement arguing backhandedly that littering is a silly thing to champion as an act of independence?

Alan's picture
Alan on July 30, 2003 - 12:31 Permalink

I was actually thinking in the more general “I share you pain” kinda sense.

Chris's picture
Chris on July 30, 2003 - 18:39 Permalink

Would anyone bus their own tables if the waiter/waitress asked?

A. Crowley's picture
A. Crowley on July 30, 2003 - 20:09 Permalink