Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Merry Fucking Christmas.




I took a call to play with a rigging crew and we're taking down a swing-set that First Unit was now done with. That meant cleaning up some cable and taking down whatever lights were rigged. Basically, clearing out all the crap from our department so construction can come in, tear this set down and build a new one in is place, only for us to come in and wire it all up again.

It's an endless cycle.

But this particular set was a little different than most of the ones we encounter the rest of the year. Seeing as how it was mid October, it was prime shooting time for all things Christmas, which means there were Christmas lights... EVERYWHERE.

And they were all powered up with zip cord.* A good few spools worth. And of course, the Rigging Gaffer wanted every single piece of it back.

The regular guys on this crew knew this, and they, being the muscle-man gorilla type of juicers who can't stand to do anything remotely delicate or tedious, immediately volunteered to do the heavy lifting. In other words, they were more than happy to wrap and toss heavy cable into a cart all day than to deal with the rats nest of zip cord.

That left me and the other day player to deal with the mess. So he started on one end of a room and I started on the other, and a few minutes later, I look over and see him struggling to pull out one strand of zip stinger from a big ball of them. How he got into such a big mess in such a small amount of time is beyond me, but all I know is that he ended up throwing the whole thing across the set in a bout of frustration.

He sighs, looks at me and says, "Dude, I can't do this," and he walks out, presumably to "help" the other guys toss cable around.**

And essentially, leaving me alone with the daunting task of collecting, de-tangling, wrapping and sorting several hundred feet of zip stingers.

I'm not even exaggerating when I say that shit was everywhere. Hidden above doorways, behind large pieces of furniture, underneath rugs, shoved into Christmas trees, etc, there was not one piece of set dressing that somehow didn't involve a zip stinger.

Sure, it was a daunting task, and not a very fun one to say the least, but whatever. I don't really mind the tedium and I'm not easily defeated by a thin piece of copper, but it did suck to have to wrap it all up on my own. Halfway through the task, I had to resist the urge to bang my head on the wall and three-quarters of the way through, I felt like shooting myself. But a few hours later, I was done. Whew. Freedom at last.

Luckily, it was also lunch and the whole rigging crew went to the diner around the corner. It was nice to get off the stage and unwind for a bit, especially after the mind-numbing morning I just had. And as we waited for our food to arrive, one of the guys commented about how he was already tired. The other guys nodded in agreement, and so did I when one of the guys chirped up.

"Why are you so tired, AJ?" he sneered, "Are your arms sore from lifting all that zip cord?"

The other guys busted up laughing and all I could do is sit there and be embarrassed. On paper, it sounded like I was being a wuss. Zip cord on its own isn't nearly as heavy picking up a piece of 4/0 or banded. But at the same time, that doesn't mean handling it isn't real work. Because of it's frustrating and tedious nature, none of the other guys wanted to touch the stuff, and those who tried immediately gave up. Yet it had to be done, leaving me the only one who stepped up to the plate and deal with the shitty, shitty mess. I was the only one willing and able to do a job that other men would rather cut their own arm off to avoid and here I was, being ridiculed for it.

Sigh...

Later on, I was the only one not asked to come back the next day. Which was fine by me.



* For those of you who aren't familiar with the stuff, it's basically lamp cord. In our world, it comes off of a spool and with add-a-taps and add-a-plugs, we can essentially make our own lamp cord stingers (aka: "zip stingers") and in any length we want. It comes in handy when we're powering things up, like practicals, and need to hide the cord. However, it is "illegal" to use on some sets. Whether or not we follow the rules, is a totally different story.

** As with every task, there can only be so many people on it before you start wasting manpower. For example, it typically doesn't take four people to set a Tweenie, and sending two people to wrap one stinger doesn't do much good. In this case, those guys didn't really need another hand in dealing with the cable.

1 comment :

Michael Taylor said...

Sometimes you just can't win. Given that you're not a hulking mesomorphic brute -- and that there were plenty of hands already dealing with the big cable -- it sounds like the work on set was getting done and going smoothly. Somebody had to deal with the Gordian Knot of zip cord, and you stepped up.

Still, it's the nature of crews to rib each other, and the comment directed at you sounds like typical rough-and-tumble snark. Most of the time (and depending on the crew) such comments aren't meant as a personal attack -- it's just one dog seizing the opportunity to bark at another to see what happens.

The best way of dealing with it is to give as good as you get -- come right back with an equally snarky bitch-slap. Then everybody laughs and it's all even. This is one way the tribal bonds that unite a crew are formed and reinforced.

Then again, maybe the guy has something against women and was just being a dick... and in that case, you probably don't want to be on that crew anyway.

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