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...


Michael Taylor said...

There's no denying how fast the rust sets in, and you're right: it's because very little of what we do and learn on the job is reflected or reinforced in civilian life off set. They really are two different worlds. I can't count the times I came back to work after a few weeks away feeling l like I needed a complete re-boot on how to do my job, as if I'd forgotten everything -- but once I got rolling, it all came back. Two years after kissing Hollywood goodbye, there isn't much I miss about the work... except those single man-lifts. I really would like to climb back in one of those and take it for another spin.

zarihz said...
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A.J. said...

Michael - Kind of a weird thing to say, but single man-lifts are my favorite kind of lifts. I never hesitate to jump in one of those.

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