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.


leonie said...

i like it. sounds like you have a cool job. i'm going to have to use some of your advice as i am now learning to give others instructions myself.

FatCharlatan said...

Hey, Repeater! Consider expanding this essay and sending it to a place like "Bitch" or "Bust"--these magazines love "strong woman" essays, and I think that's what you've written! :)

Also sounds like a great character for a short story or novel.

sundaycynce said...

Repeater, those terrific instructions work really well for teaching high school and junior high also. You were very clear and explicit and your post was delightful.

TI said...

I bet you're *really* good at telling those guys what to do! I agree with FC, you can really tell a good story about this, either fiction or non.

Bug said...

I also agree with FC. This is so original--I've never ever met a lighting tech of either gender. Great post!

Repeater said...

Thanks, everyone. Good idea about the mags, FC. Someday I'll get around to it. Maybe Nov. when we have a little break???

Anonymous said...

I love that you admit that being “bossy” is one of your strengths!

So nice to finally read some of your stuff – now I know who this Repeater is that CJ (writerbug) has been mentioning!

Look forward to reading more,