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1:19 pm - Mon 3/28/05
Angry Chimps, Robotic GMs, and 1-800-The-Law-2

Angry Chimps, Robotic GM's, and 1-800-The-Law-2

Weeks back, I read about a man who got attacked by a couple of chimpanzees while at some sort of "ape preserve" (He and his wife had once owned a chimpanzee–"Max", I think his name was–that they eventually gave to the preserve, and they were there to "visit" him).

The two chimpanzees tore this guy up–practically peeled his face off, and (Prepare to cringe, Guys) ripped his testicles off for good measure. I imagine if the guy isn't dead–and I haven't read any follow-up stories–he probably wishes he were

(I can't help it–I'm still wondering about that last part: Is ripping your enemy's nuts off standard chimpanzee fighting style, or were they just grabbing anything that was handy?)

And why do I share this grisly story with you, you ask? I guess to show that I understand my life is not that bad–As I write this, my face is still attached to my head, my gonads are intact, and I'm not in a hospital bed wondering why I ever thought having a chimpanzee for a pet was a good idea–and however bad I may think life is from time-to-time, it could always be worse.

____________________

Shot the 1-800-The-Law-2 commercial on Saturday.

My call time was at 8:00 a.m., in San Pedro (About 25 miles or so from L.A.), and I got there about a half-hour early.

I'd planned to write one of my "Day On The Set" journal entries, but things really moved too fast--Call was 8:00 a.m., like I said, and we wrapped a few minutes after noon.

Between wardrobe, makeup, rehearsal, and shooting, there wasn't nearly the "down time" I've experienced on most of the other commercial shoots I've done.(They were shooting three different spots that day, mine being the first, and were on a very tight schedule).

In the commercial, I appear at the scene of an accident (In a puff of smoke, which meant jumping into the frame behind a couple of smoke bombs), and pull a couple of oversized $1 bills out of my hat, handing them to the grateful "victim" (Who was, coincidentally, also an actor from JS. Eric-somebody).

Then I turn with a flourish and walk off, where you can then see my top hat is actually full of money.

Pretty cheesy stuff, and I had to tell myself a couple of times "You're not in the 'dignity business', Jim...". But it was pretty easy, for the most part (There were only two camera setups), and while it was the least I've ever gotten paid for a commercial (Videos and "spec" commercials pay even less), it was certainly better than what I make for four hours at the bookstore.

Speaking of the bookstore, when I came in on Friday, the first thing David (The GM) said to me was "I hear you have a commercial shoot tomorrow. You know that's going to be an occurence".

I forget my exact words, but I was not very happy, and said, trying to keep my rising anger in check, something like "Well then, it's an occurence" (An "occurence" at Borders is basically a reprimand. Get enough of them, over X amount of time, and you're invited not to work for Borders anymore).

There was a voice inside that said "Let it go, Jim", but a much louder, angrier voice said "Grab something heavy and hit him in the head with it, Jim".

I compromised, and settled for talking to him in his office.

But afterwards, I wished I'd found something heavy and hit him in the head with it.

In his office, I said I found it hard to believe that I was the first actor to ever work at a Borders in L.A., and that the last three managers had all been able to work with me on this stuff.

I noted the fact that I almost never call out sick, I'm never late (Unless I've called the day before to tell them I'll be arriving late from an audition), that I know books as well or better than anyone in the store, and that I always give as much notice as possible about any audition or commercial booking. And given all that, I said I thought I'd earned some consideration.

He didn't give a shit about any o that. His rap was basically "Rules is rules"--If you call out for any reason when you're on the schedule, you get an occurence.

But here's the thing: The schedule typically goes up on a Wednesday for the following work week, and I have never gotten that much notice in advance of an audition or a commercial booking. It just doesn't happen.

(I could go on about this rather tense, unhappy exchange we had, but I think you get the idea. This guy is basically a corporate drone without human feeling, who doesn't have an imaginative bone in his body.)

I've been very upset by this, because I don't want to get rapped on the knuckles by Borders every time I have an audition or book a commercial. And while I want out, I want out under my own steam, I want out with a plan, so I don't end up on the street.

So today, I called Patricia Cripps, the regional manager, and we discussed the issue.

I made a concerted effort to keep things in a "Can't we work this out?" vein, and happily, instead of someone just reading the company handbook chapter and verse, she actually talked to me about the matter, asking how many times I'd had to call out and so forth (I told her about this most recent situation--Having given notice on Wednesday that I had a commercial shoot on Saturday--hoping she'd see that I'd made a "good faith effort" to give reasonable notice to the job).

She's obviously a real manager: She didn't give me carte blanche to call out whenever I wanted or anything like that, but she did suggest there were indeed compromises (One thing she suggested was pretty simple, and something I'd certainly be willing to do--Post a notice asking someone to take the shift in question. That's something I should have offered to our robotic GM, or he should have suggested to me, but it never came up).

She also kind of "calmed me down" about the whole "occurence" thing--"Stuff happens", she basically said, and it takes quite a few "occurences" before you get a "warning", and then...well, let's just say that by the time I got enough occurences to threaten my job, I'd probably be ready to move on anyway.

I just get tense when it feels like someone is getting in between me and what I need to do out here.

Obviously, my time at Borders is winding to a close. I don't want to be there, certainly no longer than I have to be, and I don't want to work under this particular GM anymore (And the list of "People Who Don't Want To Work Under This GM" is getting longer every day).

But I want to leave on my own schedule, on my terms. I want to leave having a plan in place.

Anyway, the regional manager is going to call "Mr Roboto", and we'll see what happens.

I'll keep you posted.

 

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