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Tickets To The Best Darn Spine In The Workplace!

I’m a big movie fan and as a treat to myself, each year I buy my theater’s annual pass – good for two adult admissions each week for a year. It’s pricey, but it “pays for itself” if you go more than twice a month.

The tickets come in a book of vouchers and can only be used the week that is printed on the ticket (for example, you’d get two tickets in the books that say “good for one adult admission August 1- August 7 only). If you don’t use that week’s tickets, they’re gone.

The tickets are transferable, however, and the theater actually encourages giving ones you can’t use to friends and family because it means more people coming in, buying snacks, etc.

I’ve done the annual pass for a number of years and given out dozens of tickets to friends, family, even somewhat distant acquaintances – I figure why let them go to waste if I can’t use them? I’ve never had an issue with people being less than gracious – I always get thanks yous and sometimes even a bottle of wine or other token as thanks.

The problem started when I asked my boss if he’d like my spare tickets a few months ago. He accepted, said thanks, and I thought that was that.

My boss is now relentless in pursing my “free” tickets (again, I’ve paid a couple of hundred bucks for this pass).

Without fail, each Monday, he’ll ask if I’ve used that week’s tickets, and if not, what I am going to do with them. I’ve given the pair of tickets to him a handful of times since.

I don’t like lying, but after a few weeks of saying, “Oh, I’m not sure…”, and him pouncing on me, I started to just say I’ve already gone even if I hadn’t. He then started asking me which movie and then plot points like I’m being interrogated.

A few weeks ago, he overheard a coworker thanking me for giving her some tickets and he very tersely asked why I hadn’t given them to him. I said that I liked to give them to different people and changed the subject. He reiterated that he really wants the tickets whenever I don’t use them myself.

One day he asked me what I was doing with that week’s tickets and I made the mistake of saying that I was actually using them that evening to see a certain film. He invited himself along. I said I was going with my sister. He said that we should all go and split the cost of the extra ticket three ways.

Now, one ticket split three ways isn’t going to break the bank, but I told him that I resented the the idea of paying for a movie ticket that I’d already paid for. He grumbled a bit and left it at that. The next week, he asked about the tickets again.

Also, I have never socialized with him outside of work and frankly do not want to spend my personal time with him.

I know this is all pretty minor, but it’s annoying. We don’t have a dedicated HR department, but I suppose I could speak to a higher-up. It just seems silly to complain that my boss is asking me for movie tickets. He’s otherwise a reasonable person and we haven’t had any clashes in the past. He’s is also not being any more hard on me as an employee, he’s just being really annoying about the tickets.

A while back, a submission dealing with a boss encroaching on an employee had people saying he probably had romantic designs on the young female employee. I honestly don’t believe that’s the case here – he’s much older than me and married ( I realize that hasn’t stopped anyone in the past) but I worked here for years before this started and he never said much more to me than “good morning” or “meeting’s at 11.”

I should also note that he makes good money and doesn’t “need” freebie tickets. He also has friends and family, so I don’t think it’s loneliness.

Can anyone give me some idea of how to end this? I’m seriously considering not buying the pass again this year, even though it was something that I really enjoyed.   0826-15

You, my dear, are about to embark on an educational season of life where, upon graduating, you will be the most proficient bean dipper, topic diverter and conversational guru ever.    And that will only enhance your worth as an  employee!  Etiquette with benefits!

Start with, “I’m sorry, I cannot accommodate that request.”

When asked why you gave tickets to others, “It is not any of your business what I do with my personal property.   Would you like that report on the Jones account by this afternoon?”   Said sweetly, of course.

Questions about movie plots or who you are going with can be answered with….no answer!   Merely redirect the conversation to the work at hand,  “I completed the assignment. Do you want me to schedule a meeting with everyone to update them?”    The key is to ask him a question that refocuses his attention on work so that he has to think of a response.    Play this game well by always keeping the work “ball” in his court that he has to volley back.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • bern821 September 8, 2015, 3:21 pm

    Anybody else wondering if the boss is selling the ‘free’ tickets?? Why the sudden urgency to go to the movies every week – as soon as he found out OP might have tickets to give him on occasion. What a jerk.
    I think the most direct response is the best, no need to skirt around it or not buy your subscription next season. Don’t let the “gimme pig” ruin something you love to do (including gifting the person of your choosing with the tickets if you can’t use them)! I’d have to tell him in no uncertain terms that “the passes aren’t free, I pay a lot of money for them – and you need to stop asking me about them”. “Period!”

    • tsukinon September 10, 2015, 4:53 am

      It could also be that he’s one of those people who are obsessed with anything free and so he wants to make sure he gets the tickets, even if he doesn’t use them. My mom is one of those “If it’s free, I have to take it” people, even for things she won’t use. The only way I can explain it is that if a free item normally costs $5, in her mind, she actually *loses* that $5 if she doesn’t take the free item. It’s a weird mindset, but she also grew up very poor and was the oldest of 9 children.. In that situation, most free items would have probably been used (and desperately needed). It’s a hard mindset to turn off, though. I Fortunately, she would never be this inconsiderate or rude, but some people just lose all perspective when they see the word “free.”

      • NostalgicGal September 10, 2015, 8:54 pm

        I think it was on here in comments, someone worked in a grocery store, and when Kraft ™ Free Mayonnaise debuted… some woman showed up at the register with a whole shopping cart full and was FURIOUS when it wasn’t “Free”. But it said it was FREE! What would she do with that much mayo … She left without the product after a major stink and the store staff had to go rebuild the display she destroyed.

  • kjr September 8, 2015, 3:26 pm

    Some great responses here! How about this?
    Boss: Are you using your tickets this week?
    OP: Actually, I’ve decided that going forward, to keep things fair and to help with my costs, any tickets I’m not using are up for sale on Craig’s List. I’m putting it towards purchasing next year’s pass. They are at the discounted/prorated price, so let me know if you are interested!

    • Lindsay September 9, 2015, 9:42 am

      THIS. That’s the ticket, if you will.

    • Livvy17 September 11, 2015, 11:20 am

      Yes, I put a similar response, but I’d add a mark up! If ticketmaster can charge exorbitant handling fees without ever touching the tickets, why not OP? 🙂

      • kjr September 16, 2015, 12:18 pm

        I suggest the discount, otherwise why bother buying from OP when they can just buy at the theater? This way maybe the OP will actually get back some cash for the tickets that go unused.

  • MollyMonster September 8, 2015, 3:56 pm

    Some interesting responses here. I tend to side with those who say to be blunt: Boss, the tickets cost money; they aren’t free. If you like going to the movies so frequently, here is the info on how to obtain your own tickets. Please stop asking about this, it is making me uncomfortable.

    I think the bean dipping option is okay if you aren’t ready to take a firm stance, but it is a bit passive-aggressive to me. Boss might be clueless on how crass his constant requests are and needs a poke to straighten up and constantly just changing the subject often doesn’t register on that type of person. (I am that type of person who wouldn’t notice the pattern for long after you were tired of changing the subject unless given some sort of other hint/clue).

    The fact that he actually said he wanted the tickets when you weren’t using them is a red flag to me that he feels he has some ownership over them/you. If he persists after you tell him to stop, you then really need to document it and go over his head. It looks like harassment to me if it is happening as you describe. The fact that he wanted you to subsidize his trip to the movies (with you and your sister but not his family?!) is outrageous and creepy.

  • Barbarian September 8, 2015, 4:16 pm

    The boss does not choose to understand you paid for these tickets. Going forward, simply advise boss:

    1. I paid for these tickets and do not have any to give to you. I have already made plans to use all of them.
    2. If you would like to get tickets, here is the subscription info.
    3. Please don’t ask for any more tickets.

    Rinse and repeat with a pleasant beandip at the end.

    If boss still doesn’t get it, it may be time to go to HR or the appropriate person in your company. Companies have no harassment policies. Even if the tickets aren’t the usual subject of harassment, it sounds like boss’s repeated requests for them may be reaching that level.

    I do think it would be harsh to tell boss it’s none of his business what you do with your personal property.

  • Asharah September 8, 2015, 4:56 pm

    Did boss know what movie you were seeing with your sister when he tried to come along? Can’t imagine he’d want to see a chick flick.

    • Devin September 9, 2015, 10:58 am

      My girlfriends and I love girls night to see action/adventure movies!! My thought is, how much is a ticket that splitting it 3 ways even seems worth it? I live in a fairly large city and even the nicest theatres tickets max out at $12, the cheaper ones are $6. The only time they get really pricey is if its IMAX, 3-D, opening weekend. Then you might pay $20.

      • NostalgicGal September 15, 2015, 3:58 pm

        I don’t like chickflicks, I’d take Rambo over Stella and Louise (not knocking Stella and Louise as a movie as it apparently is a good one, but out of the two choices it’d be Rambo). I don’t care about the cost of the tickets. If’ someone wanted to tag along uninvited without even knowing what we’re going to AND wants me to pay part of their ticket (and the other I’m going with to pay part) No Way. a) they weren’t invited b) do we both know him/her/it? c) they might not want to be there as it might be a Gorror or something like that (I am a hardcore horror (often with lots of gore) movie addict, I will not have nightmares when most will. You might not like 3 am if you go with me to that movie) d) the general principle of the whole thing. Third Wheel that wasn’t invited to begin with and expects to go free too? No. This is a boss, the job might be very well forfeit if they go along as well… No. Um. No. No. No.

  • ketchup September 8, 2015, 5:26 pm

    You could always respond by asking why. He asks for them, or demands them, and you say why? It makes him explain himself. Just make sure to do it as innocently as possible. And when he explains, say nothing but look at him expectantly and questioningly, so you give the impression you still don’t understand. See what happens then. Maybe ask him ‘But aren’t they my tickets? Can’t I decide?’

  • SJ September 8, 2015, 6:14 pm

    He has very clearly said that he wants to be number one on your list when you decide to give away the tickets.

    I find it frustrating that as a woman and a subordinate, you feel pressure to be overly polite when he, as a man and your boss is being so blatantly rude.

    I agree that clear and honest is better than lying, bean-dipping, or simply evading. “If I ever choose to offer you tickets, I’ll let you know. Please stop asking me.”

  • anonymous September 8, 2015, 6:18 pm

    Since they’re good anytime between x date and y date, what if you told him you hadn’t decided yet if you were going to use them? If y date is a non-work day (Saturday, for example), just tell him you have tentative plans for using them on Saturday.

  • Cami September 9, 2015, 8:00 am

    Would a male employee asking this question be told to respond “sweetly”?

    • admin September 9, 2015, 8:57 am

      Sure. My husband is great at delivering directives in a sweet tone of voice. Why would you think being sweet is solely for women? You aren’t sexist, are you?

      • Lindsay September 9, 2015, 9:43 am

        You just made me giggle, Admin.

      • rindlrad September 10, 2015, 7:00 pm

        Thank you, admin. Sometimes the victimhood gets a little thick in here.

    • ketchup September 15, 2015, 5:50 am

      There’s a good chance a male employee wouldn’t need to ask this question.

  • shhh its me September 9, 2015, 10:26 am

    I think I would be blunter and give him and out at the same time…..
    “Boss , I think there is a misunderstanding. I know you would never intend to pressure me to buy you tickets to the movies every week. These tickets aren’t free I bought them. The pass/package is available to purchase in Nov/Dec (whenever applies) from Acme Theater. I’ll send you the info next *insert time they are available* ”

    I probably would not give out any more tickets at work. I know its not rude to and you are perfectly within your rights to give everyone in the offices tickets but with boss being so fixated on them I would just cut out the trigger.

  • Lanes September 9, 2015, 6:06 pm

    Definitely not etiquette approved, but I like like this little response I employ when people are being overtly nosy/intrusive:

    “What are you doing with your tickets?”
    “Giving them to Noneya”
    “Who’s Noneya?”

  • Lou September 10, 2015, 3:56 am

    Another example of the strange way certain people perceive ‘free’ things as having greater value than those you have to pay for. Perhaps this boss uses the free tickets to take a date, a friend or a family member to see a film and derives some kind of kudos from having access to free passes rather than having to pay like everyone else? I’ve had retail and bar jobs over the years and have seen people get persistent, demanding and occasionally even aggressive over free promotional items, despite the fact that these items would probably be overlooked or ignored if they were priced as retail goods. In fact, where I work now, running the reception at a busy law firm, I’ve seen clients carefully help themselves to one of each different business card from the stand on the counter, or take a company-branded (cheap plastic) ballpoint pen for every member of their family – I guarantee if we charged even 20p each for those pens, nobody would bother with them! I think OP has some good suggestions amongst the previous comments for how to handle this, and I suppose she will be able to work out which approach will work best with this particular freebie-hawk.

  • greencat September 10, 2015, 11:29 pm

    Every time he asks for tickets, start telling him about the subscription program. “It’s $500 a year to join the subscription program. You call the theater and ask for the Super Movie Goer Pass.” Don’t respond to the requests for tickets in any other way besides telling him about the subscription program information.

  • Livvy17 September 11, 2015, 11:17 am

    I love @Jenn50’s idea of telling him you can’t give them to him for ethical reasons. Perfect – puts him in the position of realizing that HIS requests are also unethical.

    The other response I thought of was, “Since the pass is so expensive, I’ve started selling the ones I won’t use to friends for $(cost+20%). Do you want me to let you know when I have some available for purchase?”

  • Rebecca September 12, 2015, 11:15 pm

    I am angry on your behalf, OP, because your boss is creating a very awkward situation for you, being in a position of power over you. If this was just some annoying coworker, you could just say, “Dude!! These aren’t free tickets! I paid for them. Just because I gave them to you one time, doesn’t mean you’ll always get them. Maybe I have other people who would like to use them. So leave me alone!!”

    With your boss, you just don’t want problems. While I see nothing wrong with telling him, “Please stop asking me about the tickets, as it’s making me uncomfortable” if you are uncomfortable having that conversation, there is always the easy way out: “Oh, I might be using them this week but if not I have already promised them to my mom/daughter/best friend. Sorry.” Or tell him you managed to get your close friend to split the cost with you, so that now whichever ones you don’t use will go to her and her family. “Saves money for both of us, since that annual pass is really quite costly!!”

    And then next year, buy that pass and just don’t talk about it at work! “Oh, I decided not to do that any more and pay as I go instead, since that pass was really quite costly.” None of his business if you have a pass or not and he’s not going to “catch” you using a pass unless he’s standing directly behind you at the admission gate.

  • KimB September 14, 2015, 7:46 am

    I REALLY want to know what happens! Please do tell, OP!

  • Ginger September 19, 2015, 9:34 pm

    Your boss sounds like an entitled pig! I agree with our website hostess…tell your boss that your personal belongings are yours & what you do with them are YOUR business alone. Then change the subject. If he persists, start writing down when he pesters you. Then show this list to a higher up. It’s no longer about tickets. He’s harassing you over something trivial. It’s weird.