Monday, January 25, 2010

Angela versus the Big Bad (by Billy Coffey)



I’m settling in at the movies with my popcorn and soda in an attempt to escape the world’s dreariness for at least two hours. Which is strange given that I’m about to watch the latest in a long stream of post-apocalyptic movies in which some Big Bad collapses governments, then societies, then people. Lots of movies like that lately, I think to myself, though I’m not sure why. We no longer cast a hopeful eye toward the future. Which I guess says a lot about our present.

The movie starts and the fifty or so people around me munch and gawk. It’s a good movie, really. At least the first part. Halfway through the picture and just as things start to get interesting the sound begins to slur, the picture wobbles, and the screen goes blank.

A chorus of groans ripples through the theater that is followed by an assortment of exhales, some stretching, and a few snide remarks. I sigh and think that I’ll have to wait to see what the end of the world is like.

Maybe. Then again, maybe not.

Because as I sit among all these people and watch their reactions, I get a very small glimpse of it from right where I am.

The Big Bad in this case happens to be a broken projector. Not really Big and not very Bad, but it has on a smaller scale the same effect as machines taking over the world or nuclear fallout—we’re all confused, and no one quite knows what to do now.

But then personalities take over. The Type A’s shoot for the door and the manager, eager to fix the situation. The sanguines in the room remain in their seats, certain that everything will work out in the end. The more pragmatic folks see the interruption as a chance to take a bathroom break without missing any of the movie. And then of course there are the pessimists now voicing their certainty that they are now out of twenty bucks.

The theater manager inches through the door. He looks to be about sixteen and I get the nagging sensation that up until this moment the only crisis he’s had so far today is losing his newest copy of Gamer magazine. He stands where he can make a hasty exit and uses the ponytailed lady from the ticket counter as a human shield, placing her between us. Still, all eyes are on him. He’s the one in charge.

He whispers to Ponytail and turns toward the mob. This, I think, is his time to shine. This is why he wears the suit.

The manager stiffens as he draws in a massive breath, exhales loudly…and leaves.

Ponytail watches him with a look of shock. Evidently her being hung out to dry had not been part of the conversation. But just as I think things are going to turn into something less than fine, she does the unexpected.

She talks.

And better than that, she doesn’t talk to us. She talks with.

She tells us her name is Angela and that everything is being fixed. She asks how the movie is so far and if we need anything. She talks about her children. She tells jokes and listens to ours. She is kind and thoughtful and attentive, both sharing our aggravation and easing it. And when the movie flashes onto the screen again ten minutes later, I swear, I swear, we’re almost sorry.

Angela stays with us for a few minutes to make sure everything’s fine and then makes a quiet exit.

The action resumes on the screen. Lots of explosions and blood and mayhem. But I’m not really thinking of the movie now. I’m thinking this:

I don’t know what’s coming down the road toward us. I don’t know if there’s some Big Bad or when it will happen or what we will do when it gets here. But I do know this—if and when that time comes, the future of our world won’t depend on governments or gun-toting heroes.

It’ll depend on people like the ponytailed lady who collected my ticket. People who take the bad and make it better.

***

To read more from Billy Coffey, visit him at at his website and follow him on the twitter at @billycoffey.

24 comments:

Bridget Chumbley said...

Great story, Billy.

In my humble opinion... you take the bad and make it better with your wonderful words... thank you!

T. Anne said...

Mm. I love this. I'm not looking forward to the big bad but it always seems to crop up in one form or another. I'll have to remember this post when it does.

BeckeyZ said...

Yay Angela! I probably would have done the same thing. It's rare to have a captive audience, and I'm sure the stand up comic in me would have shone. I did stand-up once, for five minutes, most terrifying five minutes of my life, but it was also the most exciting.

A heavy sigh eh? That's all you got from the manager? I hope that girl gets a raise.

David@Red Letter Believers said...

It's interesting to read the juxtasposition of Angela and the end of the world movie.

There is hope. There is some love and humanity left on this planet.

David
Red Letter Believers
"Salt and Light"
www.redletterbelievers.com

Rebecca on The Homefront said...

This is wonderful, Billy...you made me sorry for the movie to come back on, too. ;) Thank goodness for people like Angela who can be human and caring even in the stressful times.

Janet Oberholtzer said...

Love the thought that talking wisely can help bad stuff be better. Gosh, if everyone knew that could solve a lot of problems in our world!
It would be sweet if Angela could read this, because she might be doubting if she made a difference or even wondering if what she said was boring and/or stupid.

Steph @Red Clay Diaries said...

Wonderful as usual, Billy. :) Angela's the kind of person I'd like to be during a crisis. Barring that, she's the kind of person I'd like to be WITH during the crisis.

Hope Manager Boy was wise enough to learn something from her actions.

Joyce said...

Loved this...personality types rise to the surface in situations like this one. My husband is an Angela. A good guy to have around when a crowd starts going sideways. I'm more the sit in my seat assuming things will work out type. Probably because I've got an Angela for a husband.

Denise said...

Awesome story.

Marni said...

Secretly, I was hoping the story would end with Angela taking "manager boy" out back and smacking him around for tossing her under the bus. But that's just me.

Great story Billy! We all need Angela's don't we? I hope she gets to see this post someday.

Roxane B. Salonen said...

I love Angela types too. Thanks for sharing her with us.

Maureen said...

The Post ran a story this morning about a passenger on a flight out of Dulles who jumped up and did the right thing when he saw someone with two big briefcases trying to smash a way into the cockpit. Leaders of one kind or another are everywhere. I'm grateful there are still people who will stand up, stand out, and speak up.

Terra said...

This is a great story Billy. You took a small incident and showed us its profound aspect. Praise Jesus for Angela, and all the Angelas around us. Hmm, Angela, Angel. Close in spelling.

S. Etole said...

I'm thinking Jesus may have had a pony tail ... the potential is there for all of us if we listen

Bonnie Gray said...

It's important to take care of those relationships where we feel loved -- and where we can give love to others. People are the ones who'll keep us company whenever the lights get dark.

SUNRISE SISTER said...

I'm a little confused about how HCB works - i.e., composes, edits, prints - I mean is this a "Billy" post or a "Katdish" post. I'm fine either way, I've just found it a little confusing about who writes, who receives the comments, etc.:) A little explanation? THanks. Loved the post whoever wrote it........

katdish said...

Sunrise Sister -

Billy Coffey writes for his own blog, for High Calling Blog and for this blog. We are all separate entities.

Billy writes a post for this blog each Monday, and twice a month for High Calling. Hope that clears things up.

jasonS said...

What a great story. Seemingly insignificant, but these types of things make a big impact on us. Thanks for sharing, Billy.

SUNRISE SISTER said...

Hey, that explanation works for me - thanks for taking the time. I've enjoyed following Billy's works and was just not sure of the "order."

:)SS

L.T. Elliot said...

I love people like that. People who make the bad better.

Corinne said...

That lady has a fantastic outlook, and I'd want her by my side if anything big or bad were to happen!

Helen said...

I want to know why Angela isn't the manager. She obviously has a lot more going for her than the boy manager.

cindyhan111 said...

"she talks"
so excellent!!! Thank you for sharing this moment!

Annie K said...

I'm with Marni on ol' suit boy.(does that mean we have violent tenancies?)

Great post Billy!