Saturday, September 23, 2006
You can see it in their eyes
Sunday Scribblings- Instructions
I’ve done well at my job not because I’m particularly brilliant, not because I’m a great technician, but because I am bossy. That’s what it boils down to. I can think five steps ahead and I like to tell people what to do. Inefficiency kills me. I’m a freelance stage manager and electrician. Every day at work I am handed eight to twelve men who look to me to give them instructions. It’s not the fantasy it sounds like, ladies. Most of these men are looking to prove something: either that they are more skilled, have done more gigs, have known more famous people, or something as simple as they are able to lift more than me. It’s not so bad now that I’m bit older and have the comfort of experience, but when I was in my twenties and I walked into an arena full of local stagehands all checking me out, thinking “this little girl is going to boss me around?”—let me tell you, there was a knot in my stomach the size of Montana. Scorn twisted their faces as they stood in groups and watched me approach.
And all I ever wanted was to get the job done, get the rig in the air, get the band on stage. “I don’t care who you’ve worked for, what tour you were on, or who you had lunch with in nineteen-seventy-six. Shut up and push the box down stage left where I told you to.” That’s what I’m thinking, but there’s years of bitterness behind those thoughts. What I actually do is smile and say, “This one here, yes, put it over there. Thank you.”
Every day at work is about being clear and precise in the instructions I give. What I’ve discovered is that I cannot say “hang the leko on the upstage side” and expect someone to do what I’ve said. I have to say “put that light in your hand right here where I am pointing. Don’t forget to plug it in.” That will usually do the job. You have to play to the weakest mind in the group and apologize to the bright ones. I’ve gotten so that I can tell by their squint if they understand me. If I have learned anything (and the jury is still out), it is that you have to be as completely clear as you can. That, and always, always double check the work.