When corporations are people

When Corporations ARE People: Freelance Friday

When corporations are people, all kinds of tricky and sticky allowances are made. Human actions are made on behalf of entities. There’s a whole water-muddying of cases, all the way to the Supreme Court. But before we get into all the reasons why corporations should not have the same rights as people, please know that I probably agree with you. I have railed against “the establishment,” or whatever term I was calling it at the time, more often than not. I’m not a fan of rules for the sake of rules. I don’t even care about corporations enough to further this line of thinking.

I bring it up because there is at least one case in which “the establishment” really is people. Today is the day that I leave my beloved Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. It has been a safe space. A space full of people who taught me essentially everything I needed to know about who I was, and who I am.

How it Started

My journey at Alamo began one night when I was miserable at my job (I used to work in an industry with a mission I believed in, but it didn’t fuel me) and well on my way to becoming drunk in my recliner. I was mindlessly scrolling Indeed, as one would mindlessly scroll social media. It had become my ritual.

I saw a position posted for a Creative Manager at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Springfield, just a few miles from where I lived. It sounded rad as hell, drink-fueled enthusiasm aside. More importantly, it sounded like a job description I could have written for myself when asked to write a dream job. So, fueled with liquid courage, I fired off my resume and a custom cover letter explaining how I grew up in a movie theater my dad owned. I said I had years of bringing people to movie theaters under my belt, and I said probably some other mush that made the phrase “Write drunk, edit sober” so vital.

Of course, I wrote it drunk and sent it drunk.

When I sobered up, I looked for the job on every other platform I could think of and sent it to those, too. And then Josh convinced me to call and ask for the general manager, which I did, and get his email, which I did. And then I sent another email, and another.

Thank god I did that, because later I would receive two rejection letters, one from Indeed and one from LinkedIn. It was the personal outreach that landed me the interview.

And the interview, no pressure, ended up being with the two gentlemen who owned the company, Marc and John.

I wore a dress. I paced my house and watched the clock and waited for it to be time to leave.

And then I met them, and realized that there was no reason to worry. When corporations are people, see, everything’s just fine.

How it Was

When I began, I spent my first three weeks on the job in Austin and Houston, Texas, respectively. My trainers were people who were just, like, incredible at the job. It would have been intimidating as hell had they not been so welcoming. I’ll forever consider Kayla and Dana and Melany and Amy and Sarah soothing balms on my terrified soul.

And I got to do cool shit. I saw Rocky Horror at The Ritz on Halloween on SIXTH STREET IN AUSTIN. I got to see THOR: RAGNAROK on opening night in South Lamar, the same place I would later come face to face with Bong Joon Ho and Giancarlo Esposito. And I got to learn how to give guests an amazing experience and make them excited to come back.

I got to launch our local Alamo Springfield Film Club and meet most of the rad as hell 800ish people who occupy it. I got to plan and lead movie parties, make connections with community partners to put on shows related to their causes, and meet so many crazy awesome people. We did Wonka shows with Mike Teevee and Veruca Salt from the original Gene Wilder days. There was the It’s a Wonderful Life screening live with Zuzu (Carolyn Grimes). Finally, who could forget our old friend Greg Sestero promoting The Disaster Artist, followed by an almost showdown with a rival soap opera actor in our lobby afterward?

It brought me life and purpose when I never thought a job could. It brought me people and experiences I never even had the imagination to dream.

How it’s Going

I don’t blame Covid for leaving a job I adored. Creative departments are frequently last on the list of items needed to run a business. I definitely don’t blame the people.

But when a job is not a fit for your strengths, it doesn’t do either you OR the company any good to pretend otherwise. When we reopened in April, I had moved into an operationally-based manager position, and I quickly realized it wasn’t for me, and I wasn’t for it. But when corporations are people, they try to find something for everyone, because they care. My boss, our GM, cared. He was in a position that is often lonely, trying to do the best he could in a landscape that didn’t seem to include movie houses anymore. Jacob came to us in a time that we were young and barely had any sea legs, much less land legs. The dude turned the place around, and became a champion for me on Day One.

When he walked into the manager’s office, a hub of invoices and spreadsheets and noise, he saw me sitting there. One of the first things he said was “You shouldn’t be in here.” It was prescient as hell, now that I think of it.

He found a spot for me upstairs, away from people, in the dark, where I could create undisturbed. He said yes to every crazy idea I brought him. And, after my department was eliminated, he brought me back as his right hand, because he believed in me. And I believed in him.

We also had a new CEO, who has been an incredible ally for everyone. She listens, she gives advice, she will talk to anyone interested in reaching out. She was my first call when we reopened and my last text when I realized I was in a position that wasn’t serving either me or the company.

When corporations are people, they want you to be happy.

Where it’s Going

As much as I hate to move on, I cannot recommend the Alamo Drafthouse family enough. It is easy to demonize them, because like any person, they have had growing pains. Then receding pains. Then growing pains again. But I feel that there is heart and good intent behind these decisions. Even though many have to be made with a critical eye and big-picture foresight, they are also made with the consideration of people. So many of us have stayed because Alamo wanted to help us. We have all worn many hats, and have learned so much more as a result. I credit my stint at Alamo partner Mondo for teaching me, in a crash-course way, vital components I need to know to lead in my next position.

To My People

I would be naming names all day if I described all the people I love in this business. Springfield has an incredible staff and group of managers. Cameron, J, and Jeremy have been the best group of Wild West, post-Covid pioneers. Crystal and Valerie and Anam are my champions of marketing. David started as my assistant and became my family. And all of my posse of creative managers and coordinators brand-wide were truly the best.

I won’t find these people at my next corporation. But man, do I hope to find even half the heart there that I’ve experienced here.

I love you guys. Now get back to the floor.

FreelanceJen

I start every day vowing to become healthier and end every day by zeroing out my fridge.
That's the kind of self-sabotage that forms the core of my being.
You know what I'm good at, though? Spinning words into a magical skein that envelopes you in success. Let's talk about that first, and if snacks end up happening, so be it.

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  1. […] found my dream job at 42, and while the pandemic eventually stole it from me, I still had four amazing years working […]

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