Yay, it is November and the INTO film festivals have been much anticipated in our home. This is our third year of attending and we enjoy it so much, we even go and watch films we have already seen. Why? To feel the cinematic experience and share a few hours out with friends, for the social aspect.
We have 7 films in total to watch this month. 5 of which are at the Vue cinema. Today was the first. So here is my experience. From elation to deflation.
I will tell you a bit of a story. When I was younger and my family were trying to do well for themselves. Working their way up the ladder, so to speak, we met a family who were a few rungs higher than us. They had purchased the showhouse, with an outdoor pool. The father was a stuck up pig but the mother and daughter were priceless. Money nor prestige had yet tainted them. Alas, the girl went to a private school. She had a birthday party and I was privileged *read in sarcastic voice* to meet her school friends. Oh how honoured I was, when I went looking for the only person I knew, to have a brat of a girl, akin to Lindsey Lohan, in Mean Girls, shout “You’re not welcome here!” and kick a door shut in my face. Obviously, money can buy you an education but not manners or humanity, it seems.
I was angry, emancipated and hurt. I swore no one would ever make me feel like that again. No one really has, until today. It took 25 years for someone to have the same effect.
We arrived at the Vue Cinema, in Doncaster, early. We know local schools can frequent the INTO event as they use walking busses. So we got there first. Just about. The schools were congregating outside. As a small party, we managed to get inside first and saw other home educators also inside before the schools. We diligently cued up at the point we know an usher usually points you to which screen you are to enter. Except today, it was a manageress. Duty manageress I assume from Customer services. “Hi, I take it you are here for the INTO film?!” she said, smiling. “Yes we are!” I replied, also smiling. I wait for direction to a specific screen. “Great. Can you just stand over here please! We have 200 school children here and I would like to get them seated first.” Astounded and not sure what to say or whether I could trust myself to emotionally regulate correctly, I stood silently obedient. Raging inside. I felt as if I was in some strange segregation move, that I was not privy too. I had become a second-class citizen in a few seconds.
I had only just moments before, told my children to politely line up and wait patiently for us to be seen to. They are 8 and 12. We were not alone. All other Home educators had been told to wait to one side also. Strange when the establishment works on a first come, first serve basis. This left my children and myself confused and questioning why such action had been taken. There was no logic to this. Instead of us going in first and being quickly seated, freeing up the line for the school children to be efficiently seated, we were instead stood behind 200 children, in a corridor, waiting for them to be seated. Our children becoming fidgety and confused.
Luckily we enjoyed the film and that took the edge off it. Alas, that niggle was there all the way through. That same griping thought that I had been treated as second class. Not quite as worthy as others. I had confirmation from a friend who was with us, that she had indeed had the same emotions and thoughts.
Once home, I felt pushed to place a complaint, in the hope that the management would be corrected in their behaviour and that we would not have to worry about this on our next trip. Now, not once did that manageress ask if we were able to wait or indeed offer a reason as to why. My children are Autistic, one diagnosed, one prediagnosis. The audio from 200 children behind her, instead of in front of her in a cinema screen, was amplified by position. She did well and tolerated this. I was told by customer service that I should mention this next time. Why should we have to? We are not asking for reasonable adjustments under the laws of this country but for standard policy of ‘first come, first served’. In this instance, it was the school offered preferential treatment, for no apparent reason.
Unfortunately, the Vue customer service is not very forthcoming. A woman was very empathetic and well trained in conversing with others. Alas, she said there was no system for her to log my complaint and no details were taken from me. Not my name, details or which screening. Zilch. I have been advised to defend myself with the comment of there being no grounds for such treatment and that I have spoken to customer services. Oh and also to mention my Autistic children. Why should we need leverage to be treated fairly?! No. Either treat me and others fairly or I will do what is fair and let others know how you treat people.
We have to face them again tomorrow and I know dread the encounter, due to anxiety and anticipation of how we will be treated. So thank you for nothing, Vue. I don’t think I will be frequenting your establishment too often if this continues.
As for the film, Goosebumps 2 was enchanting, humorous, scary and kept me engaged throughout. That isn’t an easy thing to do. Especially when I am sat there, incensed by injustice.
Wish me luck for tomorrow. The unmeasurable pressure of holding one’s shit together whilst 200 plus children are onlooking, is quite heavy!