A New Year’s Tale

Murray Pratt Blog, Life Leave a Comment

While everyone wants to put together a list of the greatest plays or misplays of the year I have decided to tell you a story. And for that matter, all of my blogs are either the misplays of the day…or week..or month.

People have often asked me,

‘Murray, how did you get into sales?’

Okay, my mom asked me.

Actually, no one has ever asked me that. However one boss did ask me ‘why I got into sales’. Anyways, it’s a good premise for a New Year’s Eve blog.

I got into sales on a New Year’s Eve some 37 years ago.

It was because of a girl. Her name was Susan. I was so sw-e-e-t on Susan. We had some good energy in our conversations as school. We were in grade 13 together – yes, they had grade 13 in some jurisdictions which only served to duplicate the first year of university. Susan was going to be at THE New Year’s party. And this party was going to be a ‘shaker’.  It was going to be at my buddy Paul’s place -and his basement was made for parties.

The big hit of the time was the Irish Rovers song ‘Wasn’t that a Party’!

“Coulda been the whiskey, mighta been the gin, coulda been the 3,4 six packs, I don’t know, but look at the mess I’m in.”

Unfortunately, I was scheduled to work at my job at the movie theater that night – exactly, what every 18 year old wants to do on New Year’s Eve – spend time at the theatre wearing a light blue blazer with a navy blue bowtie serving guests who wander in to watch some weird Italian movie with English subtitles – doing this all the while some guy is at the New Year’s party dancing closely with my new ‘flame’.

Because I had to bus everywhere, I was fairly proficient with the bus schedules and times. For instance I knew it took 25 minutes to get the bus from our downtown theatre to the stop nearest Paul’s house. And I knew I could hoof it to his house in under 3 minutes.

There was one problem though. The movie ended at 11:25pm and it took 15 minutes to get everyone out of the theatre and do a ‘facility check’.  In order to make it to Paul’s house and see Susan for our kiss at the stroke of midnight……..I had to get the 11:30 bus from downtown. The bus stop was two blocks from our theatre and I could run in it in about a minute.

With the theatre managers out at their own parties, the closing of the facility was left to me, the projectionist Brian, and Marge, our senior aged ticket lady.

I went to Brian – and with all the authority that a young man would have at the age of 18 dressed in a light blue blazer – said,

“Brian, we have to start the movie 15 minutes early. I will handle the details”

Brian really didn’t put up any resistance as he wanted to get out early as well, I suspect. Brian was in his late 40’s and had a really bad stutter.

“S-s—s-ure. S-s—s-ounds good” he said.

I then walked down to Marge and told her my plan. She asked me.

“What do we tell the customers who came in for an 8:45pm movie……that started at 8:30pm?”

I will handle the details on that” I responded.

Besides the fact, I was a quarterback on our high school football team and was channeling the teaching of my football coach, a disciple of Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers and his 15 minute rule which says essentially

‘If you aren’t there 15 minutes before the start of something…then you are late’.

So the customers dribbled in, probably 100 or so – with 75 to 80 abiding by the Lombardi rule- without really knowing it.

Some of the folks came in asking me why the movie was on already when it was an 8:45 start time.

My responses were varied,

“Sorry, there was misprint in the newspaper”

“Really, I will have to phone the newspaper folks about that”

“You didn’t miss much, the trailers are still on. If you grab your popcorn and soda quickly you should be able to get to the movie right before it begins.”

And to the late arrivals I would say

“Here is what you missed….”

And I would go on to describe the premise and the initial few minutes of the movie.

As planned, the movie ended at 11:10pm – with no complaints.

By 11:25pm, the theatre doors were locked.

I caught the 11:30 bus in downtown Hamilton driven by a forlorn looking bus driver.

We travelled 25 minutes up the road on the Niagara Escarpment to a bus stop near my buddy’s house.
I jumped off the bus, ran 4 blocks – I could hear the noise of the party as soon as I got off the bus. I burst open the door……..and heard the countdown as I scrambled to find Susan amongst the fray of humanity, horns blaring….

“10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-………….”

And as I jumped down to the bottom of the stairs –  6 foot Barb intercepted me, and planted one of the most slobbery alcohol -fueled kisses I have ever received in my life. I then peered out of the ‘tackle’ to find Susan – seeing her staring at me in total surprise as I was hugged tightly against Barb’s ample bosom.

I looked at Susan.

“Ah…….Happy New Year?”

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