“It was going to be a special day; it was Anna’s birthday,” said Stefan Slowinski.
The 18-year-old had saved up his money to take his girlfriend, AnnaRose, to the movies for her 17th birthday, but it wasn’t the special day he had planned after the two accidentally sat in the wrong seats, and a manager asked them to move.
“I thought he was unfriendly and treated us the wrong way. He found two seats in the back of the theater. They were not together,” AnnaRose Rubright explained.
Anna and Stefan have Down syndrome, and the AMC theater in Marlton has a new seating policy that includes assigning a seat to each person with a ticket. While Anna and Stefan were in the right seat numbers, they were sitting in row D instead of C.
The teens’ parents say that instead of moving them to the proper seats, the general manager moved them to the back of the theater, on opposite sides of the aisle.
“They wanted to hold hands together like any other 18-year-old and 17-year-old couple does at the movie theater,” said Anna’s mom Lin Rubright.
When Anna got home that night, she was upset and told her parents what happened. They went to the theater to confront the general manager, who they say was unapologetic.
“It was really heart breaking. We got the impression that he hadn’t treated Anna and Stefan like two people at the movie theater. He treated them like two people who had Down syndrome, and couldn’t stick up for themselves and wouldn’t tell anyone,” Rubright said.
The manager claims Anna didn’t have her ticket but Stefan did. Her parents say she had the ticket in her coat pocket, but she was embarrassed and so nervous she couldn’t get it out fast enough.
“When I see something like this happen, it makes me so angry. Why would he do that?” Stefan’s mom, Toni Slowinski, said.
“What would have been the big deal just to put them in the right seats? Was it really so hard to sit them in the seats they had paid for? No, it wasn’t.” Rubright agreed.
The story has spread on Facebook and someone has started a donation page for Anna and Stefan’s next date, which they say will be dinner and a Phillies game.
“We are getting married and our honeymoon will be in Florida,” Stefan said.
AMC Theater says they are taking steps to deal with the staff at the theater, and they will be offering AnnaRose and Stefan a private showing in the theater.