I recently had the privilege of working out of town at a stagehand gig. Which was great. I was craving the travel and the general feel of the work I love to do. I was looking forward to working with other professionals in my field and….
I ended up a bit disappointed.
Day 1- We spent the day unloading semi trucks. Just 2. but it took all day. because we had to push those heavy boxes, granted they had wheels, across soft ground. The boxes kept getting stuck in the ground.
Instead of leveling up to match the work, like I enjoy doing, most of the others on the crew I was with just kept complaining as they moved slower and slower. At certain points my fellow hands got snappy with our lead and well…I kept my mouth shut and just worked harder to try to pick up the slack.
Day 2- We ran power. Now for those of you who aren’t familiar power shouldn’t be a hard thing to set up. Not with hands who are familiar anyway. While we ran power though I learned why the hands I was working with were complaining so much… We had a wardrobe movie guy, a couple of theater kids, a couple of quick wedding set up kids, and a couple of older gentlemen. I was the only festival worker. As such…I had to level up again. I started being the one who flew under the stage while pulling the super heavy main power we call 4/0 feeder. I became the one the roadies conveyed the plan to. So I leveled up again to giving general orders in the most polite way I could possibly manage. I leveled up 2x that day. Oh…and I got to stay late.
Day 3- By this time the other hands had a bit of an attitude with me. I kept saying, “this is my normal” and at certain points they’d legit ask me what the plan was or why we do things a certain way or if doing something a different way would be better. Now I like to think that all those years of growing up with sports really helped me learn how to be a team player. So when we started getting boxes onto the stage I attempted to be where I could do the most good. Which was a bit difficult to find…I just had to figure out the job that no one else wanted. The roadies liked that.
Day 4- I got sent to the box. The guy in charge of us decided to take me out of the general equation. So I got sent to help a different group that were doing a job I wasn’t familiar with but it was simple enough on my side where I handled it well enough where they were impressed. For about 6 hours of the day I communicated via knocking a drill on the box wall. I rested. I sat down. I got lost in my own thoughts. The rest of the day I helped put up lights and run video wall boxes across the ground. By then I was so pent up with energy that it was an easy task and I got to speak with an elder member about things he’d seen in his career. I love stories like that. They teach so much..
Day 5- We cranked out a 50’x60′ video wall. Before lunch we only had 2 rows left. At first the roadies wanted me to switch out and be the one who passes the video panels. But I knew that I could make all the connections and such much faster than someone who had just learned the job. At first they thought I was being stubborn but..I proved myself capable enough were my lead gave me his business card…That’s right. A roadie, an lighting designer, thought that I was a good enough stagehand that he wanted to make sure I could contact him. Let me tell you that my little stagehand heart is still crying with joy over that confirmation of skill.
In short, How I can measure my success in my field:
- I got work in another town with people I don’t know when the entire industry is almost dead.
- Lazy people hate me at first but eventually like me
- Elder members willingly and happily share their experience with me.
- People don’t mind teaching me.
- A roadie, someone in the professional league of what I love to do, gave me a way to connect with him.
I hope I read this again when I’m feeling like a piece of shit.