Three employees from Easterseals Arc help the shows go on at Jefferson Pointe.
Sylvia, Victor and Tyler all work at the AMC Classic Jefferson Pointe 18, a complex of 18 movie theaters in one building on the southwest side of Fort Wayne. They’ve worked there between a year and two years, typically scheduled for eight to 12 hours a week. They’re called ushers, but their jobs entail many duties that combine to make the theater a getaway that keeps drawing customers.
Most important, they sweep through each theater after the movie’s final credits fade out, cleaning trash and crumbs left behind by moviegoers. Between these cleanups, they also keep the hallways of the building swept and make sure that bathrooms are neat and fully stocked with soap and toilet paper.
As they’ve grown into their jobs, they’ve learned to do more and to respond to new situations on the fly.
The theater’s general manager, Mike Nason, remembers the time that a customer started bleeding from a cut. Sylvia couldn’t find a manager, he recalls, so she grabbed some adhesive bandages and wipes and helped the woman with her cut.
“They’ve all really grown,” Nason said of the three employees.
In Victor’s case, he brought incredible meticulousness to his job as a new hire.
“Every single seat was cleaned. Every speck of popcorn was picked up,” Nason said. It was beautiful to see him strive for that perfection, but Nason said it was too close to perfect for the theater to afford. Over time, he said, Victor has learned to better balance the demands of servicing 18 theaters with instinct to strive for absolute spotlessness.
Silvia likes the work. “It’s easy,” she said, yet there’s always something that needs to be done.
“Sometimes we feel rushed, if it’s busier,” Victor said.
The benefit on those very busy days is that both say they enjoy how quickly time passes when they are busy.
Nason said the national AMC Theatres organization encourages its theaters to seek out qualified job candidates with disabilities through its FOCUS (Furthering Opportunities, Cultivating Untapped Strengths) program. In the Jefferson Pointe theaters he manages, one of the biggest differences is how Nason interviews job candidates from Easterseals Arc, for example.
He meets the candidate himself, instead of letting an assistant manager do the interview. Then Nason leads the prospective worker on a “traveling interview,” walking him or her through the theater. He aims to use the interview to give candidates an overview of all the work they might do, “making nachos, tearing tickets, finding your way in the dark theater, seeing where all the lighting is,” and so on, he said.
He watches for people who seem comfortable with it and who are confident that they might be good at the work. In return, he has a good shot at finding reliable, dedicated employees who may stick around much longer than their co-workers.
Those advantages are even more evident when so many businesses can’t fill open jobs. “I guess I’m feeling it now more because the economy is so good,” he said.
And of course, creating a good atmosphere among the workers helps, too. The best thing about working at the AMC theater is its staff, “how polite and respectful people here are,” Victor said.