Tuesday, January 22, 2019


I take my seat in the cramped, dark space and face forward, sliding the door shut behind me. I know he's there, but I can't see him clearly. But that's okay. I kind of like that I can't see his face. I can't see the judgement or amusement that might cross his features. I can speak freely here; unreserved. He's just mostly here to listen. In this space, words seem to pour out of me, lifting some of my burdens and cleansing a part of my soul.

This pass van was my own personal confessional booth and it was an intricate part of my existence.

I'm not sure how it happened. How it started. But I got to know one of the drivers on my show. I'd somehow always end up in his van on the drive from crew parking to set, or from one location to the next, and sometimes, I'd be the only passenger. Just me in the back. On these trips, when it was just the two of us, we'd start talking. Small talk at first. About where we're from, what part of town we live in now, if we have any siblings, etc.

Soon enough, we'd start talking about our day, and soon after that, we'd talk about the... "idiosyncrasies" of our respective departments.

On this particular show, I wasn't getting along with a few people in my department and it upset me because these were people who I got along with so well before. They were like family at some point, but now, for whatever reason, they were ganging up on me so much that even other departments would ask me why they hated me so much. I'd smile and give a polite shrug, staying politically neutral. I still have to work with these people, after all, and feeding the gossip mill is feeding the fire. So I took the high road and kept my opinions to myself.

Unless I was in the van. With just the two of us, I felt safe. I'd seen him before around other crew members, and he was always quiet, even with the boys in his own department. He was one of the few who didn't partake in gossip. He never egged anyone on to spill any and he definitely didn't spread it. I knew he wouldn't tell my secrets. He was more of a listener than a talker, and so, when I slid in to the empty backseat of his pass van, I would talk.

I'd tell him everything. Why my co-workers were turning on me. Which one started it and why the others followed. What they'd do to make my day miserable. I'd tell them about how I was blamed for equipment not being ordered when it even wasn't my responsibility to order equipment. How I'd cover for my co-workers when they made a mistake on set, yet they'd still talk shit about me to anyone who would listen. I told him the only reason why I was staying was because this job came with a promise of better things down the line. And hell, I wasn't going to leave. I busted my ass to be here. I had earned my spot and I wasn't going to leave it because of some assholes.

I told him everything, and he'd sit there in the driver's seat and just listen, not really saying much. But that was fine with me. I didn't need advice. I wasn't looking for sympathy.

I just needed to unload. And I needed someone to listen. And I needed to feel heard, even if it was just for a few moments to an audience of one.

And sometimes, he'd talk to me. Never turning around to look at me, he'd stay in his seat, still facing forward, and just talk. He'd tell me about the bad decisions he made in his life. Why he almost got fired from his last job. How he planned on making ends meet. And I would sit there and listen to him like he would for me. I wouldn't tell anyone his secrets either. They were safe with me.

Looking back, I guess it seemed a little odd, us having one-way conversations and not even look at each other. But in some ways, I feel like that's what made things easier. In some ways, it's easier to spill your guts to someone you can't see. Kind of like talking into the darkness. You can't see their reaction. You can't be judged. Not that I'd judge him. The van had became a safe space.

I was never raised with any particular religion, so I never went to confession. But for a few minutes each day, I understood why they say that confession is good for the soul. I didn't have any sins to confess, but just telling someone my problems, even it if was met with mostly silence, was enough to get me through the show. I almost went crazy from dealing with all the drama my colleagues were causing me. And I may have almost quit. But this small act was enough to keep me going.

The show, as all shows do, eventually ended and the driver disappeared to wherever co-workers go until the next time I see them.

But now, whenever I slide into the back seat of a van, and it's just me and the driver, I smile a little as I remember my own private confessional booth, and how it made all the difference in the world.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Scraping Off The Rust.

The first day back at work after some time (whether it was a self-imposed absence or not) is always a weird one for me.

Our job uses so much knowledge, skill and movements that don't really translate to every day life that I always have the fear that I won't know how to do anything anymore. What if I've forgotten how to tell the difference between a Baby and a Baby Jr.? Can I even lift an M40 on a stand on my own anymore or am I just going to embarrass myself? How early do I have to set my alarm clock again? And, the one that always always trips me up in the morning my first day back at work, what the hell goes on my tool belt??

I always get a little nervous when I go back to work because as weird as this sounds, I don't remember the feeling of work. And if I don't remember something, how am I supposed to do it?? I remember that cable is heavy, but I don't remember, in my mind, how to maneuver it so it sits on my shoulder just right. I know that stingers must be wrapped clock-wise, but I don't remember the feeling of it sliding through my fingers, or how many degrees I need to subtly twist it so it lands in a perfect loop. I remember all the steps to rig a light (safety cable, cotter/hitch pin, power it up, focus it), but will it come to me as effortlessly as it did before I left?

These are the kinds of irrational (or rational?) thoughts and feelings that run through my head before my first day back, sending the proverbial butterflies to my stomach. I understand that they're all things that are difficult to explain to anyone how to do. That a lot of it relies on muscle memory, instinct and just plain experience. Stuff that can't really be taught. And sometimes, you just have to be somewhere looking at something to understand how to do it. I mean, you can't explain to someone how to globe up an 18K unless you're looking at one, just like you can't really explain to someone how to drive a car unless you're both sitting in one. But just like driving a car, how rusty will you be if you haven't been behind the wheel in a while? And that goes double for a car you've never driven before!

But then I get to set (after setting my alarm clock ridiculously early) and I see friendly faces and familiar set ups and things seem like home again. The job starts flowing, my joints loosen up, the cobwebs clear from my head and my body is on auto-pilot once more. Instinct starts to kick in, and it's like I never took any time off. I have never once failed to get back in to the groove of things.

But lo and behold, after the next hiatus (self-imposed of not) come and goes and it's time to get back to work, those butterflies return once again...

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