Saturday, April 14, 2018

Overachiever.




Day exterior scenes are usually a lamp operator's dream.* Since the (California) sun is typically bright enough to light up the whole set, a set electrician's main job becomes to make sure that video village and the coffee maker at crafty have power. Then it's mostly finding a shady place to hide while the grips swelter in the sun.

Sometimes, on a slow day like that, the Best Boy will take advantage of the time and have us do some housekeeping, like cutting gels, re-organizing the carts, inventory, etc. 

It was one of such days when a colleague and I were assigned to tackle the small pile of B.O.** equipment that had been collecting on the truck. I was putting a new Hubbell on a stinger while he re-globed a light. 

"Hey, do you have an alcohol wipe?" I asked him, as he was finishing up.
"Naw, there's some in the set cart but that's all the way on set. I'll wipe down the globe later," he said while he started closing up the housing.
"No need. Here." I usually keep an alcohol wipe in my tool pouch and so I handed it to him.
"Oh, look at you. Overachiever," he said as he took the wipe from me. "Thanks, Overachiever!" He emphasized that last part rather loudly so our whole department heard.

I let that comment go and returned to my own work, but his words left a bad taste in my mouth. From anyone else on that crew, I might've taken the comment as gentle ribbing, but from him, plus the tone of his voice, it was clear he was annoyed with my preparedness. This was the same guy who repeatedly showed up late for work, sat at staging all day playing games on his phone, and never stayed on set for longer than a few minutes. 

So it's a wonder that to him, me having the bare minimum required to do the task at hand, was considered "overachieving." Or maybe it was the fact that I saved him a trip to the set cart that he had a problem with? 

Or maybe it was the fact that compared to him, the bosses that be saw me as a more valuable addition to the crew and he knows it. I'm no model electrician, but at least I show up on time every day (granted, I may have cut it preeeeetty close a few times) and hang out on set until they get a take going before sneaking back to staging. I also re-stock the set cart when supplies are running low, make sure the head carts have the proper counts when we load them back up, and wrap loose stingers and cable that for whatever reason ends up laying around the middle of the floor, causing unnecessary trip hazards. 

...All while he plays games on his phone at staging.

None of those tasks were assigned to me. I just do them. Why? Because, again, it's the bare minimum of work required for my job. I don't know who he's used to working for, but making sure we have expendables nearby and wrapping stingers are pretty par for the course on every crew I've ever been on. 

And yet, I'm an "overachiever."

Okay. So if doing what's required of me at work makes me an "overachiever," what does that make him? Also, let it be noted that instead of getting his own alcohol wipe (which were in the set cart no more than sixty feet away), he took mine and then gave me a thinly veiled insult.

Really, man? Maybe the problem isn't that I'm an overachiever. Maybe you should just try harder.




Not counting the sundown-"OhShitWe'reLosingLight!!"-mad-scramble at the end of the day.
** "Burned Out," aka: broken.

1 comment :

Michael Taylor said...

The last full season I worked on a show, we shot lots and lots of day exteriors in the full summer sun of LA. Should have been a juicer's holiday... but no -- our DP was one of those "ring of fire" devotees, so in addition to all the 20-by and 12-by grip bounces, we always deployed at least two 18Ks and two 6K pars. He kept moving them around between takes, too (not just between setups), so there was no hiding in the shade. Manning an 18K in 100 degree heat was very much no fun - while the grips, of course, cooled their heels in the shade of those big bounces.

Lazy-ass juicers like your co-worker are the kind of people who give unions a bad name - they do the absolute least amount of work possible, yet (somehow) keep getting hired. I worked with my share of these slugs over the years, and never understood their approach to the job.

And of course you're right - he dissed you in a defensive ploy to cover up for his own sloppy work habits. It's the same dynamic that causes the dumb-asses in grade school to make fun of kids who pay attention in class. Same as it ever was...

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