All he wanted to do was enjoy the movie.
And perhaps no one who set foot in the theater that entire day was more deserving of losing himself in a film.
When he first entered the Regal Cinemas Independence 10, next to Chapel Hill Mall, he felt right at home. He and his wife had patronized the place many times, dating back to the day it opened.
But Carol Krosnick is nearly four months gone now, having finally succumbed to breast cancer after a 13-year war.
Ron Krosnick tears up just thinking about her.
It is a sunny afternoon in August, a month he has experienced 68 times. He is sitting in his living room — the same room that for 2½ years served as a hospital room.
Krosnick is a big fellow, a self-described “hard guy,” a retired meat-cutter. But the memories of his wife and her struggle soon cause his eyes to pool up and eventually spill over.
Ron and Carol were high school sweethearts at Garfield. When asked what first attracted him to her, he jumps up from his chair, heads into another room and returns with a framed picture of a cute blonde teenager. Enough said, he figures.
They were married for 48 years. For most of those years, life was good. But a significant downward trend developed at the turn of the century, when Carol was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer.
After a decade of chemo and a wide variety of other treatments, some experimental, the cancer spread to her back and legs. She became paralyzed from the waist down. Couldn’t feel a thing. Couldn’t even use a wheelchair.
For her last 2½ years, her feet never touched the floor.
Ron was her rock. Throughout those 2½ years, he slept six hours a night so he could devote the other 18 to caring for her.
Cooked her three meals a day. Tracked and dispensed her meds. Took care of her eliminations, keeping her dry and clean, doing his best to fight off bedsores.
Spent so many hours in that living room, with the wide-screen TV and the special medical bed, that today he could likely describe every inch of it with his eyes closed.
As if that situation weren’t tough enough, Krosnick also was caring for his mentally challenged son, who is 48. The son can’t read or write but does have some basic communication skills, roughly on the order of an 8-year-old, his father says.
Now, you might assume that, after 2½ years of being a full-time nurse, after 2½ years with a bed in your living room, after 2½ years of watching the woman you love wither away, the emotion triggered by Carol’s death in May would have included at least a fractional pinch of relief.
Not so. To Ron Krosnick, her death was devastating — “the very worst experience I’ve ever encountered.”
To this day, he refers to her as “my darling wife.”
After she was laid to rest at Holy Cross Cemetery, he curled up in a shell, doing virtually nothing for three months. Finally, at the end of July, knowing he had to get rolling again, he asked his son to accompany him to a noontime showing of Red 2, right around the corner from their house.
Only four other patrons were in the theater, so Ron and his son had an almost unlimited choice of seating. They headed to the very top, where the legroom is larger, and sat near the center of the row.
A half-hour into the movie, Ron believed he had made a wise decision. “I enjoy shoot-’em-ups,” he says with a smile.
But then he encountered an ugly scene that did not come from the projector.
A Regal employee marched up the stairs toward them. When she arrived, she looked at Ron and said, “Are you recording this movie?”
Now, if you’re guessing Ron Krosnick is not the type of person who would fire up an iPhone or camcorder and try to pirate a movie, you’d be absolutely correct.
When he said he was not, the woman asked the same question, this time more firmly. Again the answer was no.
She told him she had seen a red light coming from their vicinity. Well, he said, what you saw was probably a reflection off the mirrored sunglasses my son has been holding on his lap. See them?
But the woman — Desiree Vanegas, the theater’s general manager — was still suspicious. Once again she asked whether they were recording the movie.
Somewhere after that third inquiry, but before her fourth, Krosnick’s blood began to boil. On the brink of screaming at her, he finally suggested they move to the hallway to continue their discussion.
Pressing the issue
Krosnick told her he was going to call the police so they could come out and search him and write a report. He put the conversation on his cellphone’s speaker so Vanegas could listen in.
Now, most days, the Akron Police Department has more pressing issues on its plate, and Krosnick was told an officer might be dispatched if one could be sprung. In other words, don’t hold your breath.
Vanegas offered a refund, but Krosnick declined. He didn’t care about the money. He wanted an apology.
The apology eventually came, he says, but only after he contacted her superior and demanded one.
Vanegas declined to comment. Her superior is a regional manager in Middleburg Heights ... who passed me along to a publicist at Regal’s corporate offices in Knoxville, Tenn. ... who passed me along to a vice president ... who left me a voicemail saying the company takes piracy very seriously and didn’t want to talk about the incident because that would reveal its enforcement methods and assist would-be pirates.
Sort of like the CIA, I guess.
I called him back and said I was a lot less interested in the methods Regal uses to detect piracy — or alleged piracy — than how hard one of its general managers should be leaning on a 68-year-old guy who says he isn’t taping and explains a flash of light by pointing to a pair of mirrored sunglasses.
Still no go.
“We will not comment on the specifics,” said Russ Nunley, vice president of marketing and communications for Regal Entertainment Group.
He did say an internal investigation was conducted, but “that is a private resolution that we will not play out in public.”
Use your head
In other words, we don’t know whether Vanegas has been subjected to any disciplinary action.
But I can tell you one thing: If I were supervising people in a service industry, I would make the following concept crystal clear.
Any time you are tempted to get in someone’s face because you think that person is doing something wrong, but you’re not really sure, and the first indication is that he’s not, and the person in question is pushing 70, you just might want to pause for a moment and consider what you’re doing and how it looks from the other person’s perspective.
And maybe, just maybe, you could remind yourself that everyone has a real-life backstory, and not all of those backstories are as glamorous as the ones in the movies.
Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or firstname.lastname@example.org.