Monday, September 28, 2009

It's Lunch Time.

Do you remember what it's like to be the new kid in class? Or was there ever a day when your best friends all went on a field trip/stayed home sick/had a dentist appointment while you still had to go to school? Then you spend the morning sitting at your desk, wondering who you're going to play with at recess and even worse, who are you going to sit with at lunch?? You don't want to be the loser that sits by herself, feeling like a nobody and a misfit. How sad and embarrassing that would be!

And while I'd like to say those days are behind me, I'd be lying if I did. I don't know about you, but things have been pretty slow for me in terms of work. The only jobs I get called for is to day play, which means I'm only on a show for a day or two before I'm back on my couch, waiting for my phone to ring again. This also means that I've spent quite a bit of time being the "new kid" recently.

For the first six hours I'm on a new set, I'm usually rockin it. I've got a job to do and I (more or less) know how to do it. Everyone gets into a rhythm and things start clicking. Then we break for lunch and no matter how good of a job I did that morning or how well I'm getting along with the new crew, the moment I step into that lunch line, I'm worried about who I'm going to sit with. The obvious choice would be to sit with my the rest of my department, but it doesn't always work out that way. Sometimes by the time I get through the line, there's no more room at the table. Or they decide to try the burger place down the street instead of eating another day of mediocre catering. Hm... Now who do I sit with?

In the end, it usually works out well. I'll pick a seat next to a friendly looking person, have a lovely conversation while we eat our chicken and I'll have a new ally on set. Worst case scenario, the person turns out to be an arrongant dick, in which case I'll finish my meal and excuse myself to "return a phone call". What really sucks though, is when I end up sitting by myself. Then I revert to feeling like a nobody and a misfit.

I know I'm probably too old to be having these "high school cafeteria" anxieties. It's something that I should have outgrown, but I can't help it. There's something about the mix of new people, long tables and trays of overcooked food that revert me back to my young self, complete with any insecurities I may have had then as well.

Call me petty or immature, but I guess part of me is still seeking acceptance. And that's probably something that won't disappear, no matter how old I get...


Nathan said...

I'm usually on for the run of a show (including 6-12 weeks of prep and a week or so of wrap), so I know everyone. I'm usually busy when they call lunch, so I'm always one of the last people through the line.

I still stand there every day with my tray trying to decide which kids I'm cool enough to sit with. (I like to think of this as a moment of seemly humility, but I balance it by knowing that, at least, I'm cooler than the extras.)


A.J. said...

Nathan - You're cool enough to sit with me any day.

Nathan said...

Oooh goody! What's for chicken?

A.J. said...

Well, yesterday was grilled chicken, which means that today's shredded chicken tacos and tomorrow's... Hm... What can you make out of leftover shredded chicken?

Anonymous said...

I have worked day player gigs here in New Mexico as a juicer and have always had luck to sit with my fellow juicers. Also I have worked as an extra and met many nice people doing that as well.

But recently I worked on a film as an actor, and I really felt what you are talking about.

Day playing as an actor meant that I did not have any other members of the crew that I was working with directly. I was just off to myself, sitting in a little dressing area with "Man In Tux" on the door. When I was needed on set I was taken over. I talked with the star of the film on the way to the set, and we did our "acting" thing.

Then it was time to break for lunch. I was kind of in a no man's land.

I did not think I should set with the star because I was just a day playing actor. He probably would have been cool with it, but I just could not make myself go over and set down with the big shots. So there I was sitting by myself feeling like the proverbial not cool kid.

I have to say, everyone on set was great, and as an actor I was put on a pedestal to a certain extent. Of course that was also kind of hard for me to take being as I think of myself as just the average guy that I am and I don't know how to handle special treatment.

But the one thing I really took away from it all is that for me that day was really kind of lonely.

Who knew?

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License .