Friday, April 15, 2011

The Next Time My Phone Wakes Me Up, It Better Be For Work...

My phone is annoying me lately. It keeps ringing.*

The frustrating thing is that it’s not necessarily ringing off the hook from work offers. It’s ringing unnecessarily.

Let me explain.

I’ve been lucky enough to be working a lot lately. Which is a good thing, especially if you‘re a dayplayer like me. The not so good thing is that a lot of the jobs I’ve been getting are night shoots or splits, so instead of the usual 6am to 10am call times that people usually get, I’ll get one in the late afternoon or just before sunset, meaning that I’ll be working well into the night and often until dawn.

While the thought of such a schedule is enough to make most people groan, I actually don’t mind them so much provided that I’m given enough of a warning to get my sleep on the day before (or at least attempt to).

The problem arises at the end of the work “day” when I’m at home and crawl into bed. The sun will usually be rising in the pale blue morning sky as I close my window shades and plop onto the mattress like a kid belly flops into a pool on the first day of Summer. Within minutes, if not seconds, I’ll drift into a deep slumber. Working nights, unless you’ve been doing it for an extended period of time, takes a toll on you no matter how much you try to prepare for it.

Occasionally, since the rest of the world revolves around a schedule that’s the opposite of yours, you’ll be rudely awakened well before your much needed seven hours of sleep by such things as leaf blowers, lawn mowers, garbage trucks, and noisy neighbors. These things are obviously beyond your control and you can do nothing but just accept being prematurely woken up by them as a part of life. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

Which makes it even more frustrating when you’re trying to sleep in on a day when the neighbors are gone, the gardeners aren’t around and it’s not even trash day, but you’re woken up anyway… By your friends and colleagues.

It seems to be inevitable. About two hours or so after my head hits my fluffy pillow, my phone will ring, usually from a text or something. And the message is almost always something frivolous, like sharing the contents of their breakfast burrito or a funny encounter with an eccentric homeless guy while they were rigging somewhere downtown.

It’s frustrating and pisses me off with no one to blame because as I’ve said before, the rest of the world isn’t on my schedule. How are they supposed to know that while they’re out enjoying the warm California sunshine, I’m still happily wrapped up in my comforter in a darkened room?

But what really irks me are those messages that come at a time that would piss me off even if I wasn’t working nights. For example, I was woken up at 7am by one the this morning from a friend “sharing“ an anecdote about his car. Yes, I realize that in the world of call times, 6am isn’t unheard of so depending on what I was working on, it might not be too far of a stretch to think I was already up at that hour too. But in my opinion, it’s one thing if they send me a silly text message if they know I’m awake at that hour, but it’s a whole other issue if they just assume I’d be up. Because chances are, unless I have are reason to be up that early, I’m not.

And further more, I was so incensed about how thoughtless the dumbass was being that I had trouble getting back to sleep, making me tired and cranky for the rest of the day. This has happened more than just a few times.

Sure, a simple solution to this seemingly mild yet definitely irritating problem would be to just simply shut off my phone. But unfortunately, it’s easier said than done. The last time I did that, I woke up to half a dozen messages on my phone from my boss and production. The first couple messages were informing me of some changes that were made, and the rest were frantic calls wondering where I was and why wasn’t I calling them back. Apparently, it’s unheard of in this business to shut your phone off for any extended period of time.**

And if this post sounds like a frivolous rant, it’s probably because I’m sleep deprived and cranky.

* That is, if my phone actually made a ringing sound. Despite having a long list of ring tones to choose from, “ring ring” isn't one of them.

** Even if you’re on set.


D said...

Do yourself a favor. Turn off your phone. Production monopolizes enough of your time, don't let them have your sleep. If you're still worried about it, change your voice mail message to say that you are working nights and are sleeping but will return calls at xx time. Get yourself a white noise generator of some kind and say f&^%k 'em. Believe me, if they're too stupid to know you're sleeping all day after a night shoot, whatever they need can wait. I don't even know any best boys who answer production while they're sleeping.

Michael Taylor said...

D is right. The whole rationale of voice mail is for leaving messages to be received and responded to later. Don't let some ADD-afflicted PA or panicky production coordinator intrude on your private time.

This is just one more reason I keep my land line and avoid the temptations/distractions of the cellular world -- I really don't want to be on the long end of an electronic choke-chain that keeps me available to the rest of the world on a 24/7 basis.

But that's just my inner Luddite speaking -- I certainly don't expect anyone else to agree.

Trouble is, land lines ring too, so when I'm in your situation, I take the phone off the hook and let all incoming messages go straight to silent voice mail. Fuck 'em -- they can just wait 'til I wake up...

A.J. said...

D - The problem with Production arises when they're calling about a different show than the one you're on. The panicked phone calls I mentioned in my post were from the job I was supposed to be on right after the current one wrapped, and they had no idea about my sleeping schedule. In fact, I almost lost the gig due to the "non-returned" phone calls. But thanks for the tip about changing my voice mail. I hadn't thought of that, and may try it out.

Michael - Unfortunately, with the invention of cell phones/smart phones and other technologically advanced doo-dads, everyone expects you to be accessible 24/7. The idea of "private time" doesn't seem to exist anymore. It's exhausting. And it's even harder when you're day playing on several shows that are going on at once. Being "inaccessible" means losing out on work.

But you're smart to hold out on getting a cell phone. I miss the days when all I had was a land line and I could go about my day without obsessively checking a mobile device in my pocket every few minutes. There's a kind of freedom about it. And once you get one, it's hard to go back...

Anonymous said...

Aj, i can relate. I'm day playing on a tier one- nights. They aren't making their days, shooting well past dawn (and i'm thinking i can see the sun, can't production?!) which also means we come back tomorrow to reshoot and once the give up the ghost, we tent and -go inside-! Needless to say we are barely making our turns and i'm lucky if i get 6 hours of sleep. Yesterday i awake to what i think is a call time text about another show i'm on. Nope. Its a fellow grip. "hey" hey what? I text back. "oh,nothing, just wondered what yer up to". Really?! Im trying to get 3 hours cause i gotta pick up paychecks from 2 different offices, get dolly expedables before the Place closes and get to my forced call. How are you?! Didnt get back to sleep, was cranky all day and kept to myself. I feel ya.

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