"Hey A.J.! Where've you been??" Crafty asks me, "We had quesadillas and that salsa you like yesterday and you missed it!"
"Aw... Damn!" I replied, bummed that I missed out on some good eatin'. These guys knew their way around some tasty snacks and had quickly become my favorite crafty.
"So, where were you?" Crafty asks again.
"Uh... no where. Just sitting around at home."
"Yeah," I knew where this conversation was going, "I'm just a day player on this and I guess they didn't need me here yesterday."
"What?? How are you a day player on this? You work harder than most of the guys here!"
I shrug, give him a smile and go on my way. I've been day playing with this crew for a while now, and nothing more. I come in once every couple of days. Sometimes a little more often; sometimes a little less. Sometimes just enough to fool the other departments into thinking I'm around all the time before laying me off again, which was the case now. And no matter how much my co-workers like me or how much I get along with everyone, something tells me that my status as a day player isn't going to change anytime soon with these guys. Which is fine if it wasn't for everyone else reminding me of that fact.
A few minutes later, I run into the On Set Decorator.
"A.J.!" she says, patting me on the back, "Where'd you disappear off to yesterday?"
(Here we go again...)
"No where. I was just at home."
"What? What happened?"
"...Nothing. I'm a day player on this and they didn't need me here yesterday."
"What? You're a day player and not a regular?"
She gives me a puzzled look. I shrug and offer a smile as I continue on my way.
I don't get very far when a P.A. known for his friendly banter catches a glimpse of me.
I stop in my tracks. "What?"
"Where'd you go yesterday?"
"What do you mean?"
"I'm a day player. They didn't need me yesterday so I stayed home."
"Oh... Wait, what??"
I shrug and smile at the boy as I continue on with my work.
Sometime later, I find myself sitting by the Key Grip waiting for the next set up to start.
"Hey, look who's back today!"
"Hi, Key Grip. How are you this morning?"
"I'm good. What show did you leave us for yesterday? Something good, I hope!"
"Um... No show... I'm just a day player on this and they didn't need me yesterday."
"Wait, you're only a day player?"
He stares at me for a second as if he's trying to figure out if I'm pulling his leg or not. "Bullshit."
I smile at him and shrug.
"You could've fooled me. I see you on the set working more than I see any of the other guys... Why aren't you a regular?"
I offer him another shrug. "Your guess is as good as mine."
He nods, understanding my predicament.
I do work hard for these guys. I'm the one on set, never letting the Gaffer out of my sight while the other guys are at staging, staring at their phones. I've known the Gaffer and Best Boy longer than any of the regulars. One of them had even commented to me before about how the Gaffer seems to be less stressed whenever I'm around. And yet, I'm still only a day player.
I have my own theories and speculations as to why that might be. I won't get into the details of what they are, but the rational side of me kind of understands the hiring decisions that were made. Or at least, I've accepted it. I can't make someone hire me.
What does bother me, however, is the constant reminders from people every time I'm out for a couple of days about how I shouldn't have been the one to be gone at all, and the awkward conversations that go with it. Conversations, that despite nicer wording, essentially reads between the lines like this:
Them: "Where have you been?"
Me: "I've been sitting at home, not doing anything because I'm a loser and not good enough to be here full time."*
This. Multiply by several times a day. After a while, it starts to get to you.
But what can I do, other than reply with a smile and a shrug...
* This is not to say that all day players are losers who can't hold a regular position. I'm just saying it sure seems/feels that way