Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Nobody Knows Anything.

"Hey, I need a low boy combo over here!" yells out the Key Grip.

It's kind of a slow day, so both my colleague and I get up from our apple boxes and head for the truck. I beat him to it though, and pull out a low boy. Not too far behind us is another grip, who pulls out a Coleman stand.

"Take him this one," he says, handing it to me.

I set down the stand I'm holding and reach for his. "Why? Did he change the order?"

"No. But this is a low one."

I glance at the other grip standing next to me, and I could tell that he was just as confused about this as I was. "Yeah, but he said combo," and I continue on my way back to set with a low boy in hand.

"But that's not a low boy!" says Grip #3. This guy's older than my dad, and I sure as hell didn't feel comfortable yelling back at him that he's wrong, so I pretended not to hear him. That's when he starts to follow me with the Coleman.

I'm almost to set when I pass by Grip #4 who takes one look at me, rolls his eyes, and says "No, not that one. He asked for a low boy combo."

I stop walking. Now I'm even more confused. Wasn't I already holding one?

"So... If this isn't a low boy, what is?"

Grip #4 rolls his eyes again, and this time adds a sigh. "Just take that to him. He might use that too. I'll go get a low boy combo." And he walks away, leaving me with a stand in one hand and a weird look on my face. This is my first day working with this particular crew, but I'm pretty sure "low boy combo" means the same thing no matter who you're working with... Unless you're working with these guys, I guess.

A few seconds later, the other two grips (and the Coleman) find me still standing there in my perplexed state. I hand off my stand to Grip #3 who takes it, along with the Coleman, to set. I turn to Grip #2 who was with me at the truck. He asks me what just happened.

"Well, the Key Grip asked for a low boy combo. I went and got a low boy combo. But then Grip#3 said not to take the low boy and tried to hand me a Coleman instead. And then Grip #4 says that the low boy I'm holding isn't a low boy, and the Key called for a low boy, but I should take the stand I'm holding to set anyway while he goes and gets a low boy from the truck. And Grip #3 just took the low boy that isn't a low boy and a Coleman that wasn't asked for to set."

"Oh... okay..." I could tell Grip #2 was still trying to make sense of it all, and so was I.

This is the part where I start doubting myself. I hate doubting myself, but when someone's so insistent on you being wrong, you can't help but have at least an inkling of a thought that they might be right. And in this case, there were two people saying I was wrong (although they didn't exactly agree with each other either) and not only that, but these were guys who work on shows a lot bigger than the ones that I do and have been doing this job a lot longer as well. Does this mean that I've been grabbing the wrong stand on every set I've been on??

Anyway, after another moment or so of the two of us standing there like a pair of idiots, I break the silence.

"So... If the stand I was holding wasn't a low boy combo, then what was it?"

Grip #2 looks at me, shakes his head, and shrugs. "I dunno. If I had beaten you to that truck, I would've grabbed the same thing."

And this was coming from a guy who's been a grip longer than I've been alive.

We didn't hear the Key screaming over the radio for another stand, so we assumed that one of the stands Grip #3 brought him was either exactly what he wanted or close enough. A little bit later, I poked my head onto set and saw that both stands were being used so I guess we'll never know which one he would consider to be a low boy combo.

As for Grip #4 and the "low boy" he went to go get? He disappeared for a good ten minutes or so only to reappear again wearing a different shirt and eating a sandwich from crafty.


Nathan said...

Well, I got my start working 6 years at a G/E rental house and I vote with you. Doesn't matter how low it'll go if it doesn't have the combo head.

(BTW, on my first job I was told to stay out of sight on the truck -- cause I really was utterly clueless -- when I heard someone yelling for studded vice-grip. I proudly went running to set with the biggest damned furniture clamp I could find.


Ed Moore said...

You're definitely a right - a low boy is a low boy is a low boy. Bizarre. You've got to wonder how many other things those guys just assumed they knew.

Michael Taylor said...

I've never heard the term "Coleman" used to describe any stand, so when following the link, I was surprised to find what I've always heard described as a "Baby C Stand."

I don't hear "low boy combo" very often, either -- in my world, it's simply called a "low combo."

But you're right -- nobody knows anything...

A.J. said...

Nathan - Sometimes a Coleman and a low boy can be interchangeable, but if I don't know what they're using it for and they're specifically asking for a combo, I give them a combo. And sorry, but I found your story to be really funny, although I do have to admit that I sometimes have trouble keeping track of all the different kinds of clamps we use.

Ed - Agreed. What sucks even more is that if you're on a new crew, once they think you're wrong about something, they feel the need to babysit you the whole day.

Michael - From what I understand, "Coleman" is actually the shortened version of another nickname for a baby C-stand. I often also hear them referred to as a "Gary Coleman". I think it's kinda self explanatory...

Nathan said...

I showed this post to the Grip Best Boy on the show I'm on now and he just kept muttering "fucking idiot" every couple of seconds. (He wasn't referring to you.)

I just stood there laughing.

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