Tuesday, April 6, 2010

NCIS - LA: finally, a working stiff

I got paid for last Friday.

Yeah, OK, so what... except: Friday was a holiday, and we didn't shoot.

Again, I know: so what?

Here's so what-- for me (and perhaps you), it's been "eat what I kill" my entire adult life. Prior to now, I've never, ever been paid for not working. Not on New Years, not the Fourth of July, not on Christmas. I get sick? Bummer for me. Vacation? Factor in the loss of income and decide if it's worth it. Where's the rent coming from next month? Wait for the phone to ring, and see. Which wears a body down, after a while.

Many of you know what this feels like. Others have lived it for a time, and said "not for me, thanks." Still others read this and think (perhaps rightly): that is simply no way for an adult to live.

I hear ya. But until recently it's been the only life I ever knew.

Besides, there's an honesty, a kind of dignity in it: you HAVE to bring your A-game, every day-- because, as is often said, Results Don't Lie. The phone rings? You're doing something right. It doesn't? Get up a little earlier, work a little harder. And if that doesn't work... take a long, hard look in the mirror. (But if it comes to that, please, please: respect yourself. Most people will never have to take that look in the mirror.)

For me, working in theatre or film has always been a calling, a privilege even to be asked-- but until now, it's never been a job. So this latest development has been something of a surprise. And after decades of being "that guy" on sets ("who's That Guy?" "I dunno-- I think he knows the star, or something...")-- it is a revelation to realize that I have become part of the rag-tag community on the lot.

And I gotta say, it's nice. The day after St. Patrick's Day, Ron, the Guard, who greets me with a smile every day, asked if I was hungover from The Big Night. I told him that we New England Irish Catholics think of St. Paddy's as Amateur Night-- and when I left for the day he said he'd been telling everyone that, all day long. He loved it! That doesn't sound like much, I know-- but if you've never had it, it's a big deal, indeed.

So, yes. It's nice to wait my turn at the gate to swipe my ID. It's nice to flirt with the payroll ladies. It's nice to have the wardrobe guy say to me, excitedly: "they got Chinese chicken salad at crafty! Better get over there!"

Wanna know a secret? It reminds me of theatre, this misfit-toy feeling on the lot. We're just a bunch of oddballs trying to do our best to make a thing good. And tomorrow we'll do it again. And again, the day after that. Except for two weeks at Christmas, I've been working this job every weekday since last July.

Which is fine by me.


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