The man who keeps the movies running in Fairmont

We first met Bernie Ockuly on NewsCut when he pulled into a spot along White Bear Lake, to tell us about what it’s like to be an older worker in America, caught in the fallout from the Great Recession.

He took a job as a long-haul trucker and he’s been driving across the country ever since, stopping every now and again for a bit to eat and a word or two with people along the way about why they do what it is they do.

Over the weekend, he pulled into Fairmont, Minn., and found out what it means to be a manager of the local movie theater.

Posted by Bernie Ockuly on Sunday, November 19, 2017

If you’ve been following my posts about truck driving, you might recall that I have mentioned, one of the most difficult obstacles is finding a place to park. It is a lot easier with this job at ADS, but there are still challenges. Today my travels took me to Fairmont, Minnesota.(pop.10,115) We have a plant here. Dropped the trailer this afternoon and bobtailed to town. Will get unloaded tomorrow morning.

Got out the old Google Maps to find a place to eat. Found a place but parking looked a little tight, especially compared to the wide open movie theater lot across the street. Parked the truck over there and had a great lunch at the Ranch House Family Restaurant. Afterwards, I walked back to the truck and decided to check out the show times posted in the window of the theater. Poked my head in and asked if it was alright if I could stay parked in the corner. One of the employees said, “Oh sure, no problem.” Thanked him and said I would be back in two hours when the movie started.

Only in the truck for a little while when some other guy came out of the theater walking towards me. Thought to myself, “Oh great, here comes this guy to tell me I can’t park here.” Instead, much to my surprise he said, “Seeing how your waiting for the movie, could I get you a bag of popcorn and something to drink?” You could have knocked me over with a feather. I said, “Gosh, thanks but I’m stuffed from the lunch I just had across the street. Thanks anyhow for your offer.” He told me he just wanted to see if I needed anything because he knows it can be pretty rough for truck drivers and added that he appreciates the hard work we do.” As he walked back inside, I just sat there smiling and realized I was a victim of another random act of kindness.

Went in to see the movie “Wonder” and is my norm, stayed to the very end to watch the credits. I was the last one still in my seat when the guy who offered me the popcorn was busy cleaning up the mess that some people leave. Told him, “The movie isn’t over till the end of the credits.” Besides I always check to make sure no animals were harmed, looking for the American Humane Society seal of approval. As he walked back, I said, “Do you like your job?” He stopped and said, ” Why yes, actually I love my job.”

Meet Jonathon Scott Shrum. Turns out he is the manager of the Fair Lakes Cinema. Been working here five years. “Tell me why do you love your job.” He grinned and sat down across the aisle from me, thought for a moment and said, “I just do. I love everything about the business from the back office work, to selling tickets and concessions.” “Heck, I even enjoy making the popcorn,” he said, flashing a grin. Born in Glendale Arizona and raised in Worthington, Minnesota, Jonathon is still working towards a degree in Performance Arts. “Really?” I said. “Do you want to be an actor?” He replied, “No, actually I’m a musician and play the piano.” “My dream would be to play contemporary music and conduct an orchestra at a Broadway theater in New York.” But for now he loves his job because in his words, “It brings joy and entertainment to people.” How many people get to say that about their job?