Friday, July 17, 2020

I'm Not Here.

It's been a little over four months now since The Big Industry Shutdown™ caused by the pandemic.

It's also been a little over four months since anyone in this industry has seen me, in video, photos or otherwise, which is kind of an amusing thought. I'm not a big social media user and though I've attended the occasional Zoom gathering, my camera is generally off to help with the shitty bandwith situation in my apartment. They know I'm around. They know I exist. I stay in touch with everyone via texts and emails and what have you. I've spoken to them on the phone or during the aforementioned Zoom calls. We all check in with each other regularly, making sure we're all okay, checking if anyone needs anything. But no one from work has actually seen me. I'm like a ghost. They know I'm around, but my actual presence is something intangible.

The last time any of my colleagues saw my actual, physical being was the day before everything went down. I had the rare (ha!) day off in the middle of the week and woke up to a text from a crew I day played with. They were loading out their show at one of the rental houses not too far from me and invited me to have lunch with them. I met up with them that afternoon and we enjoyed a nice "end of the season" meal together. Little did we know, it would be the last meal we shared in more ways than one. The news was playing in the background, a continuous loop of the NHL cancelling their season and the Governor banning gatherings, but other than a brief acknowledgment, the announcements became little more than background noise. Instead, we reminisced over the highlights of the last few months on the show, talked about what jobs we had coming up, and then gave each other a round of hugs in the parking lot before we all parted ways.

That was the last time I touched anyone I loved.

After that, I went down to another show to pick up a check the Best Boy had for me. The stage was pretty much empty when I got there, the company having moved to wherever else they were supposed to be that day. So I sat there with the Best Boy for a few minutes, shooting the shit. We talked about how crazy things got yesterday, how news of one thing after another kinda hit all within the same span of time (Tom Hanks! NBA! Borders shut down!). But how naive we must have been, neither of us even thinking about how we could be effected by it, let alone so suddenly. There wasn't even a whisper of a rumor or anything circling around his show about it. He even laid out which days he could use me for next week and I told him I was available and to book me.

As I was about to walk through the cracked open elephant door on my way out of the stage, I heard my name being called out. I turned around and smiled. It was my favorite Craft Service guy on this job. Always down for a good chat, he loves nothing in this life more than his wife, his kids, and a good cup of espresso.

"Where are you going?" he asked. "You can't be done today already!"

I laughed. "I'm not really here today. But I'll see you next week though."

"Okay. I'll see you then. Can you believe all this craziness that's happening right now?"

"Yeah, it's crazy for sure." And I'm not sure why, but I added, "Hey, be careful out there, okay? Take care of yourself. Be safe."

He nodded. "I will. You too, my friend."

And with that, we both turned and went our separate ways. Him into the dark stage. Me, into the daylight.

The next day, all the shows shut down, suddenly and swiftly.

And just like that, he became a ghost. Vanished, just like I have.

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