This morning at 8:45, I dragged my sleepy buns into the Breslin Center to load in the Blue Man Group’s show (“How To Be A Megastar Tour”) for a one-day-only appearance. Compared to “Wicked” and “Le Cirque du Soleil,” it seemed like a very small show. Note to self: Buy some damned gloves, girl. And a normal-sized C-wrench (monster 10-inch-long ones don’t conveniently fit into pockets.)
After the trucks were off-loaded, I wound up on the video crew with 5 other people. At a few moments after 11, the road crew guy I was following around like a baby duck said, “Ok, you guys have been here for 2 hours now – go take your break.” I blinked. “Um, I’m good.” He blinked. “Really?” “I’ve only been working for 2 hours, dude; I’m fine, seriously. If you want to knock this out, let’s do it.” “Fuckin’ A,” he nodded.
There is occasionally Attitude amongst the road crew (folks who travel with the show) toward the local crew. Some of this is understandable – some of us are new, some are outright incompetent, some are lazy and none of us know the equipment and set-up as well as they do. Still, some modicum of decency would be nice. There usually seem to be several assholes per crew. They are skilled, knowledgeable people with absolutely no patience for anyone who doesn’t know their set-up.
Most of the road crew are perfectly friendly, and make efforts to know their hands’ names. They answer questions. They pitch in. We like those guys.
Thus, to help the good guys and to try to show the assholes that I’m not a monkey, I try to be as alert, aware, competent and helpful as possible. I want to leave a good impression, not only of myself, but of the East Lansing crew as a whole. When they unpack at their next gig, I want them to have an easy go of it (without rat’s nests of cables, like we had.) I like it when people are happy. I also admit to a certain level of wanting to prove that women can work as hard as men. I acknowledge that most men are stronger than I am, but I am not going to back away from working as hard as I physically can. I want to be seen as a good worker.
I also didn’t need a break after barely two hours of work – that just seemed unnecessary.
We finished up the project, and then he insisted I go get a Coke or something, so he wouldn’t get in trouble. Crazy, this union stuff. But, as Rig pointed out while I was on that break, this type of labor has been exploited before. So we take breaks.
Speaking of Rig, I have a very blurry photo of him doing ground-rigger-type stuffs. Blurry, because the slow Treo lens doesn’t do well with large, badly-lit interiors.
Once finished with my break, I got assigned to a different video guy, setting up LED panels in bizarre places around the stage. This guy was not happy; “I have six hands, and three of them are chicks?!” He glanced at me, “no offense, honey.” I arched an eyebrow – “None taken, sweetheart.” True enough, the other two girls weighed about 100 pounds soaking wet, one had wrist issues and couldn’t lift. This was problematic, because she and I were hoisting 120-pound, awkwardly-shaped stacks up about 3 feet. She quickly got replaced.
After my new partner and I hauled about a dozen of these stacks up onto the deck, Sean re-evaluated my girlyness and kept me with him after he replaced the two other girls. “Your steward is being is dick; you can’t have small people doing video. You can’t just dump people onto video because you think it’s chick work. No offense.”
I managed one quick shot of the floor as we were working – it’s blurry and doesn’t have a lot of clear detail. I unloaded a lot of the boxes, and my team assembled and hoisted the two video screens left and right of the stage. The yellow thing is a fork truck, and the crosshairs above the stage are the main video screen thing. The line of black things on the left are speakers.
We got out at 1, and most of the hands are going back at 9pm to take everything down again and haul it away. Lots of work for a one-day show, but at least it’s not an enormous set. “I want you back for load-out tonight,” Sean said, pointing at me. I was happy to have convinced him that chicks are not always useless. I apologized for being unable to help with the load-out.
I have a lot of terminology to learn. A lot. I still have to consciously think about where “upstage” and “downstage” are, and which direction I’m facing to go stage left or stage right. I also have to get comfortable with the fact that not everyone has a good work ethic. There are plenty of people who are content to do as little as possible, and some of those same people strangely get a little defensive about other people working harder than they are. “Why are you always on the move?” and “You’re working too hard.”
The riggers, however, always seem to be doing something. One guy thought that Rig/Dave was my older brother. 🙂 The same guy, seeing my Wolf Haven shirt, proudly told me that he raised two Artic [sic] wolves as pets. Being as polite as I could manage, I asked him why he would do that. We had a brief discussion about wolves as pets, and, trying to short-circuit as much of it as I could, gave him my nutshell speech about why wolves are not good pets, and how they’re generally not happy as pets. None of it sunk in and of course his were the exception, blah blah blah. I know from extensive experience that nobody’s viewpoint (mine or the other party’s) gets changed in these conversations, and since it is no longer my profession, I don’t go off on extended diatribes anymore. I make my point and I leave it alone. It helps my blood pressure.
It was very strange to walk away from the job with the work not yet done. But rules is rules, and four hours is four hours.