It's been a rough couple of days and this morning was no easier. We've been pre-rigging day in and day out, often re-doing things we've already done to meet the last minute changes from Production. So when the chance arises for us to take a break, no one has to tell us twice. My Brothers for the day and I immediately drop what we were doing and head out to the truck for some water and snacks.
So there I am, just chilling on the back of the lift gate, cold soda in my hand, enjoying the morning breeze against my damp skin. This was essentially a new crew that I was on, but I had been called back to play with them enough times that I was starting to really feel like one of the guys.
Just then, one of my coworkers who I've been primarily working with takes a seat beside me.
"You know," he starts off, "You really impressed me yesterday and this morning. You're starting to prove not to be useless afterall."
I turn to look at his face to see if there was any hint of joking at that last part. There wasn't.
"I mean it," he continues. "Yesterday was rough, but you just kept going without stopping. That was really great. You're helpful now."
I sit there, staring at him, jaw wide open and flabbergasted. Finally, I ask him, "So you're saying I've been doing nothing but fucking up all this time?" I spit out the question as lightheartedly as I could, hoping I could spin it into somewhat of a joke to give him a way to back peddle out of the insult he just threw at me. But he didn't take it.
"No, no, no... I'm serious. You're doing really well right now. Keep it up."
I take a good look at the guy. This was his way of genuinely paying me a compliment. What the fuck...?
So instead of going off on the guy, I tried to handle the situation as professionally as I could.
"You know," I said to him, "Thanks, but I really don't need to hear this from you."
"What?" He seemed confused now. He honestly didn't seem to think anything was wrong with what he just said to me.
"I'm saying, I don't need to hear this from you. So you can just save it."
Finally sensing that something he said had rubbed me the wrong way, he tried to "validate" me even more. "I don't think you understand. I'm saying it's a good thing that you're useful now. I really mean it!"
I try to find the right words to make him understand why saying "You're finally good after working with us for so long" can be insulting. "I know you mean that as a compliment, but by saying that, you're also saying that I've been useless for the past few weeks I've been with you guys."
"Yeah, but you were helpful yesterday and today. I mean it too. Don't worry. It's a good thing."
I give up. He wasn't getting it. And the more I tried to explain it to him, the more aggravated I was getting. I wanted this conversation to end. "I get that it's a good thing that I don't totally suck right now, but you know what? I don't want to hear it."
And with that and a curt "Fine. Have it your way," he gets up and leaves me alone with my now flavorless soda.
Who the hell does he think he is to be talking to me like that? Sure, I'll admit that he's been on this crew way longer than I have and he does have more experience with bigger shows than I do, but I've also been in this business longer overall. On this specific crew, he does have seniority over me, but I've also proven to have some skills that he doesn't. Despite me still learning the ways of this group, I feel like I've done enough to earn my keep.
I may not be the best at my job, but I'd like to at least think I'm a hard worker and at the very least, I'd like to think I'm not counterproductive to the team. In fact, early on in my days with this crew, I've gotten comments from some of the less cocky members about how I've surprised them (in the good way).
So where the hell does this guy get off by telling me, "Hey! You're not a total fucktard afterall!" and expecting me to be grateful for it?
As our break ends and we head back to work, I could tell he was insulted that I wouldn't take his "compliment." Whatever. He's not the Best Boy on this crew. He's not the Gaffer. And those two are the ones who keep bringing me back.
So I must be doing something right...