Keeping Safe at the Cinema

photo (19)The movie theater has historically been a place of mindless escape where one can exchange everyday reality for a dramatic get-away complete with a bucket of buttery pop corn. Lately, it’s not as enjoyable. I’ve been wondering how many other folks feel a little anxious, since James Holmes made history killing 12 people during a shooting rampage in a Colorado theater in 2012. During a midnight viewing of a Batman movie, Holmes opened fire on the defenseless patrons injuring 70 others. Recently, the verdict of life in prison without parole for the infamous shooter was handed down by a jury that failed to agree on the death penalty. There was never any question about Holmes being guilty, because he surrendered at the scene. According to an AP article by reporter Sadie Gurman, “The trial hinged instead on the question of whether a mentally ill person should be held legally and morally culpable of an act of unspeakable violence.”

Don’t feel safe now that Holmes is locked up forever, because just this past July in Lafayette, Louisiana, three people including the gunman were killed at Grand Theater. Nine others were injured during the showing of the movie, Trainwreck. Within three years, the third scene of a theater attack occurred in Antioch, Tennessee, early this August when a man armed with a pellet gun and hatchet went on a rampage. Thankfully, the gunman was the only fatality being killed by the rapidly-responding SWAT team. Three patrons were treated for pepper spray unleashed by the assailant with another victim receiving a minor hatchet injury.  These incidents point to one simple truth: a movie theater like a school, mall, church, or even a military recruiting office can be an easy target for an assault. Yet let’s not permit a few violently inclined perpetrators to close down theaters. Instead let’s do what cutting-edge organizations have done and beef up security measures. First, we could bring law-enforcement and first responders to the table to glean their wisdom about the best safety scenario.Movie 3-D

There are also some common-sense steps a theater could take. For example, patrons would have to allow theater employees to search a purse or any bag carried in. Regal Entertainment Group, the country’s largest theater chain recently announced that this is a procedure they have implemented. According to their Website: http://www.regmovies.com/Theatres/Admittance-Procedures, “Security issues have become a daily part of our lives in America. Regal Entertainment Group wants our customers and staff to feel comfortable and safe when visiting or working in our theatres. To ensure the safety of our guests and employees, backpacks and bags of any kind are subject to inspection prior to admission. We acknowledge that this procedure can cause some inconvenience and that it is not without flaws, but hope these are minor in comparison to increased safety ”

Perceptive individuals will readily understand when they are asked to open their purse or bag for inspection. Already underpaid theater personnel don’t need patrons protesting over their rights to privacy when they are trying to ensure their safety. Metal detectors could also be installed at the entrance, and after purchasing a ticket moviegoers would step through it. If the detector beeps, be ready for a pat down just like at the airport. Some weapons can’t be detected, although anyone suspicious could be reported. Panic buttons could be installed to alert authorities about emergencies, and security personnel could be hired. Sadly, this might increase the already escalating ticket price, but keeping folks safe is worth the cost. A very informative article – https://variety.com/2015/film/news/moviegoers-half-pay-extra-theater-security-study-1201571615/ for Variety by Brent Lang, film and media reporter states that movie goers will be willing to pay more for security, but there’s a catch. “However, their appetite for shouldering the extra costs that come with installing metal detectors and armed security guards lessens as the pricetag grows higher. While 48% are fine with paying $1 or more for the additional measures, only 23% said they would pay $2 or more, according to a new survey by consumer research firm C4,” writes Lang.

Times are changing, and admittedly the world can be a randomly dangerous place. Yet it’s our job to live with awareness, not paranoia. So, let’s not stop going to the movies, let’s just be safer when we do.

 

Please follow and like us:

Children and Seniors are going to Bed Hungry

“Could you please give me a dollar, so I could get something to eat?” I was in a restaurant parking lot one evening last summer when a twenty-something male approached me and asked me this question. The slight-built red-head didn’t seem to be high on any substance, but I wasn’t sure.

A Healthy Meal from Panera Bread

A Healthy Meal from Panera Bread

“A dollar? What can a dollar buy?” I replied suspiciously acting a lot tougher than I felt, because the lot was deserted and I didn’t know what to do. I had to do something, because my sense of spiritual and moral responsibility had kicked in. Yet as a female, it’s crucial to be aware of your surroundings and keep yourself safe.“I could get a donut,” he said hopefully.

Here’s the thing, you can never give people who say they need food, money. Not ever. This is a hard and fast rule I learned years ago volunteering in a large ministry’s food pantry. Sadly, the food money can turn into drug money. Now days, gift cards can be sold for heroin too. I’m not judging others who are in dire straits financially. Long ago, as a single mother I was part of the poverty statistic, which fuels my empathy. The point is, if you treat everyone the same, you don’t have to decide who’s high or who’s hungry. Anyway, addicted individuals still need to eat, and more importantly, so do their kids.

According to www.neighborhood-voice.com, “One in four children in Ohio either go to bed hungry or are at risk of going to bed hungry each night.” It’s a frightening feeling being an adult without resources looking at empty cupboards. Can you imagine how much more helpless a child confronted by those barren shelves must feel? Another organization www.feedingamerica.org reports that 21.5 million U.S. children took part in their school’s free or reduced meal program in 2014. But on weekends during the school year, if a food BackPack program isn’t in place, there are children who might not eat. Thankfully, there are also independent summer meal programs for kids in our community, but they need of our support.

Wonderful Gram

Wonderful Gram

There are also millions of malnourished seniors struggling with food insecurity. Long ago, my late grandmother entrusted me with the china platter that is a tangible reminder of this vulnerable population. The ivory-colored serving plate, which was once rimmed with gold, is now glazed with tiny cracks of advanced age. It’s not an antique, being devalued by the ravages of constant use. Still, to me, the platter is priceless. The turn of the century dish first belonged to my grandma’s aged female neighbor, who would sometimes sell it to “Gram” for $5.00 at the end of the month when her check ran out. Being out of money, meant being out of food; and like many older folks living alone, this senior was too proud to tell her family or a government agency that she needed help.

Besides, in those days, five dollars spent frugally could purchase a week’s worth of groceries. The neighbor would simply buy the platter back, when she received her monthly check. My grandmother’s income was more comfortable. I’m sure she would have gladly given her neighbor some groceries, but the purchase of the platter salvaged the pride of an elderly woman who was used to making her own way. It was decades ago, and there weren’t many established senior nutrition programs like “Home Delivered Meals,” or “Congregate Meals.” Gram’s neighbor died without retrieving the dish, which makes me proud thinking that Grandma might have helped her to the very end. The old platter also reminds me to be grateful for the luxury of the abundant food my family is blessed with. It is a symbol that others are not so fortunate, and that they continue to require assistance to meet their basic nutritional requirements.

Like the redhead in the parking lot, but since a donut isn’t a healthy nutritional choice, it wouldn’t solve his problem. Without thinking, I said to the young man who was younger than my son, “Follow me,” and headed back into the restaurant where I had just come from. Trying not to embarrass him, I paid for his meal, making certain it was food not drugs that my hard-earned cash was buying. Then muttering a sincere “God bless you,” I walked out hoping that somehow his circumstances would get better soon. I felt really good for a minute. Then I realized that countless other individuals in our community would be going to bed without supper that night, some of them, innocent children.  

Christina Ryan Claypool is a freelance journalist and inspirational speaker. Her website is www.christinaryanclaypool.com

Please follow and like us: