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Writing Sample

A few years back I landed a position working as an office PA on a feature film.  At the time I thought it would be cool to document the journey, so below is my version of this experience with names changed to avoid getting sued.


Monday, July 29 - PREP DAY 1 - TGIF

The only person I’d spoken to on the production team was a fellow by the name of Michael.  Michael was a flamboyant late 50s, average build with thin features, carefully trimmed salt-and-pepper hair, a thick Bostonian accent and wide-set hazel eyes.  We spoke briefly after he saw my resume and I explained that although I was uniquely overqualified as an office PA, I was also uniquely under-qualified in the feature genre, so taking a paycut was ok for me while I had a chance to learn the ropes.  I’d had a feeling since our first conversation though, that by the time this movie was over I’d be promoted; maybe to assistant coordinator or something, I didn’t know, I just had a feeling.  At any rate I told Michael that with my skillset I could back him and the Line Producer up with whatever they needed, and I was available to commit to the duration of prep, shoot and wrap schedule of 14 weeks.  


This would be the longest full-time assignment I’d taken on purpose for at least a decade, and I questioned whether it was the right move for me, there was just something about it that felt right.  It was a hotbed for everything I wanted to learn, the budget was decent, but not huge ($6 million), I’d be in a position to listen and watch what was going on without having any real decision making power…. But did I want to start over as a PA?  Really?


When I spoke with Michael on Friday, I found out that the production location of Downtown LA had become unavailable, so they relocated to Sherman Oaks.  Sherman OAKS!!!!  It turns out the new office was 5 minutes from my place, and that was the sign I needed, I was on the right track.


I arrived at the lobby of the former Citrus headquarters around 8:45am.  It was a unique building, three stories shaped into a futuristic inverted trapezoid, with intrusive cement beams jutting out every few feet to frame rows of oversized windows, arranged into four sides with an empty center square.  The design straddled the line between fancy office and prison compound.  In the center of the building was an open courtyard with a grand fountain, carefully placed shrubbery and scattered cafeteria chairs and tables… This was where the proud employees of the Citrus Corporation came to relax and enjoy their lunches, when the Citrus Corporation inhabited this space.  Now it was a sad display, the fountain dry and rusty with tubes sticking out like broken limbs that were never set properly, courtyard eerily vacant and unkempt, dirty cobwebs and dried leaves framing the giant windows, perfectly sheltered from the elements by conveniently protective cement beams.  Inside, a vaulted ceiling boasted above a wide atrium, trimmed with viciously outdated wood paneling and sorry, sulking modular carpet licking decades of its wounds.  The elevators creaked and moaned as if begging to be shut down for good and released from this endless purgatory. 


As it turns out, the Citrus Corporation moved on from this spot but they had little success in repurposing the real estate, so rented the office spaces exclusively to production companies, for the duration of their fleeting current projects.  I’m certain some of these model tenants simply abused the facilities and promptly left, shortly before bankrupting their shell corporations and taking long, long, vacations.  Since this practice wasn’t as lucrative as the building owners would have liked, they cut other corners to make up for lost revenue; such as reducing maintenance, janitorial and security crew, cutting hot water to the entire building, and letting things like air conditioning just kind of, I don’t know, stop.


A tall man with an olive complexion, sharp high cheekbones framed with wire rimmed glasses, curly dark hair infused with streaks of grey and an atrocious mustard yellow shirt was sitting on a retro vinyl couch in the lobby as I walked in.  Next to him was a rolling case of supplies and a printer box; new-production-personnel-dead-giveaway.

“Are you Michael?”

“No, I’m Robert.”  He made me think of a stockier, less talkative Woody Allen with a beer gut.  A pause while he looked at me, like he was going to say something, but was thinking it over first, but might say something, or not… but maybe…”Are you here for TGIF?”

“Yeah!”  So we would be working together, apparently.

“Michael just went upstairs to open up the office.  He’ll be back in a few.”

“Oh great.  Guess I’m in the right place.”  Awkward.  Silence.  Why did the office need to opened before letting anyone near it…?  Did I really want to know?  I had an opportunity to sit and do nothing for a few minutes before the chaos started… should I be questioning my boss’s methods just before we actually meet in person on the first day of my employment?  Was this one of those “everything was going great until…” moments?  Was I overthinking—

“So what is your job here?”  Robert had decided to make conversation and cut my silent musings short.

“I’ll be production office PA, this time around.”  I smiled at him like I was seven years old, and super excited to be spending the summer at fatcamp.  “I’ve done a lot of production work, but mostly on commercials, so it’s a little different.”  Why was I spouting my resume at this moment?  I didn’t even know who this guy was…. he nodded like he might have cared once but this business was cruel and I would be finding that out very soon, which nobody was looking forward to.  “What’s your gig?”

“Production Accountant.”  A wry, sidelong glance, as if he were bracing himself for my poor reaction.  “But this is the first job in a while that’s not traveling, it will take some getting used to.”  Red flag.  When someone makes an excuse about not being used to the job for any reason, it’s sometimes because they’re not used to the job, period.  I may be getting ahead of myself here, but Robert seemed insecure about his own shortcomings, so he made a pre-emptive strike that he’s a fish out of water, possibly to explain later shortcomings.  The mustard yellow shirt suddenly made sense. 

“Oh that’s great!  I’ve done a lot of production accounting.”  More with the resume!  What is wrong with me?  FUCK.  We chatted for a few minutes until Michael emerged, talking a mile a minute, and off we went to the office.


At some point Michael and I went down to his car to grab more supplies, and he told me during those first moments we were alone, that mine was the only resume he looked at, and he just knew he had to hire me.  I couldn’t help the smile crawling across my face, because I knew it was right too.  I didn’t know why, or what would come of it, but it felt like the planets were aligning and funneling me the direction I needed to go.  He went on to say that he hadn’t coordinated in a long time and this was a little weird getting back into it (pre-emptive fish-out-of-water red flag again!). Then he told me that he’d written a film and it was getting produced, so he may be handling some of that during the production.  My ears perked up when he said this, and I know it sounds awful but just in case Michael had to step away I wanted to be ready to step in.  He had an assistant coordinator coming on board later but I had no way of knowing how competent that person might be, or if Michael might take him with him if he left.  Not to seem like I was angling for anyone’s job, but I did want to be ready just in case.


Early in the day Michael introduced me to Mark, the Facilities Manager for the building.  Mark was probably 52, pudgy, light blue eyes, speckley white untrimmed beard, with the general aura of a man who might have given a shit once, but gave up on that preposterous idea about 20 years ago.  His den was a sick little hole in the basement, lined with shelves of junk, tools, soda cans, garbage.  In the center of it was his office, barely recognizable, where we found him sucking down a McDonald’s Sausage McMuffin amidst a pile of clutter and paperwork.  Old maintenance manuals and books were stacked haphazardly atop hidden furniture and somewhere in the middle of it was a computer, I assume - I could only see the top half of the monitor peeking out.  Mark was the guy who would help us with whatever building issues we needed.  Terrific.   I asked him about the AC, which didn’t seem to be working, and he told us to turn it down to 55 and it should cool down.


Rebekah showed up around 10am.  How to describe Rebekah?  Hmm.  Well, my first thought is someone who has endured some really fucked up trauma in her life.  My second thought is I kind of don’t want to know about it.  She was 45, short and plump with shaggy unkempt dishwater blonde hair and a low cut dress showing off her cleavage.  She spoke fast and loudly with a piercing shrill, and as I came to find out pretty quickly, she seemed to assume that everyone waited with baited breath for her next words.  Letting anyone finish a sentence was not a courtesy she ever considered but in a way, she was endearing; she rudely interrupted every few seconds, repeated herself incessantly and stomped on whatever anyone else had to say; but it was like she didn’t know any better.  There didn’t seem to be any point in trying to talk to her; it was like she was teaching a class and only rowdy students raised their hands; but lord knows I will have to try.  She claimed to work in commercials and hadn’t done a feature in a long time.  Oooooooh that’s just great.  That means, she has no idea what she’s doing, and she’s just given us a pre-emptive excuse as to why.  If she ever had worked in commercials, she probably tells people that she’s been working in features for a while and has to get used to it again… Houston, we are three for three in the red flag department.   I may be judging early here but usually I’m right about this kind of thing - I suspect someone else will handle the majority of the work while she rants about something irrelevant.


Paul and Hagai arrived around 11.  I actually like these two, at first glance.  Paul was tall with thinning blonde hair and spoke with a thick accent that I couldn’t place.  Hagai was a little shorter, had a lingering but subtle accent, a big smile and seemed to be a guy who would burst with positivity in the face of tribulation.  The two of them were all business, they moved a couple of tables around and went to work on the schedule, saying little to the rest of us for most of the day.  Around 5pm, Paul handed me a pile of 200 or so receipts, which had been meticulously wadded up and stuffed in a backpack, and asked me to sort through them and categorize by method of payment and expense account.  They were all pretty straightforward, mostly restaurants and drinks, a taxi here and there… except for the one for Prosecco and condoms.  Meals and Entertainment account I guess?


The office was actually not an office, this particular section of the building had been used as a set for a couple of years.  Because it had been used as a set, there were no phones, no internet, no wiring for phones or internet, no power to the desks, and no air conditioning.  Now this might not sound like a big deal…. We had a MiFi box and cellphones to cover the telecom for the moment, the laptops didn’t really need power most of the day, but late July in southern California is no picnic without AC.  There were windows on two sides of the space and we were fortunate enough that neither faced West but even then, the room was ten degrees hotter than the rest of the building.  The air was suffocating, stuffy, we spent the day sweating at our desks, Mark quietly ranting about cheap owners and incompetent management, Rebekah incessantly waffling between the budget and the rental contract, Michael attempting to place an office supply order at Staples, and me, moving desks and chairs around, stringing extension cords to plug our laptops into.  Ten minutes before we left, Mark brought a floor fan to help cool us down.


Halfway through the day, the data on the MiFi ran out, so everyone’s internet went kaput and Rebekah spent an hour and a half on the phone with Verizon deciding to spend $30 for more data, claiming over and over during the conversation “I’ve never done this before, it’s the first time I’ve ever done this, so I didn’t realize that it would run out so quickly, because I haven’t done this, it’s my first time.”  Theory confirmed - MiFi boxes are so essential they’re practically slang in production, anyone who has ever managed a production with a budget has rented and used one at some point; Rebekah apparently had not.  


Because of that delay, it took Robert about 5 hours to cut a petty cash check, which I took to the bank, which rightfully refused to cash it, because they made it out to cash (despite my suggesting they make it out to me), it was drawn on the director’s account and he was too important to answer the phone to verify it, and the account manager was apparently in Missouri, which was now closed, because it took 5 hours to write the check.  By the time I got out of the bank, it was too late to go to the key-making place, where I had been instructed to get 8 keys made for the office, so that errand was a bust.


We needed a fridge for the office, and I found a used stainless steel Samsung on Craigslist from a legitimate mom-and-pop reseller for $325, including tax, delivery and a 90-day warranty.  Rebekah nixed this idea to say we only needed a mini-fridge, and that nobody would be preparing food in the office.  I made the suggestion that it wasn’t much more expensive and mini-fridges were frustratingly small, but that was shot down so I dropped it.  She told me to go to BestBuy with the Paul’s credit card and buy a mini-fridge and microwave, and I told her they might not accept me paying with Paul’s credit card, since I wasn’t Paul… she told me to try anyway, which I found to be a retarded idea.  I stopped in just the same and they told me what I knew already, which apparently Rebekah didn’t; someone else’s credit card at a grocery store or restaurant is not a big deal; but at an electronics retailer susceptible to massive amounts of fraud it is a big deal, which is why their security is tighter.  At any rate, I went back to the office, placed the order with the credit card and authorized myself to pick it up the next day.


When the AC persistently wasn’t working, Mark backpedaled on his original instructions to turn it down and informed us that there was no AC in this space, which he had known all along, and the building managers didn’t.  ”It’s a set!  That’s why there’s no AC!  Cuz it’s not an office.  They didn’t ask me before they rented it, because what would I know?  I’ve only been here 26 years.  Productions shoot in here, but they bring their own AC.  You know why?  Because IT’S A SET!!”


Monday was a day whence everything was urgent, nothing was accomplished, and the conditions were a hair shy of workable.  We had no petty cash and were discouraged from using company credit cards, so we had no food.  Maybe I’ll bring some snacks tomorrow.  In the meantime I went to the gym and nearly killed myself on a cardio machine.  Home around 10, bed around midnight.

Tuesday, July 30 - PREP DAY 2 - TGIF

7am was a cruel joke.  Tuesday was the day that the phone, internet and copier installers would arrive.  Michael arrived early because the phone company gave us an installation window of 8AM - 4PM (seriously?) and I arrived early because I decided to bring my kit and printer, just as a patch if needed.  As I was loading in my stuff, Michael stopped me to ask if I knew how to do sides.

“Sides?  You mean for the shooting days?  Print at 50% and attach to the schedule?  yeah.”

“Ok, well, I just need to make sure that you know how to do them, because it will be you and David in charge of printing sides and in charge of crafty.  So you know how to print them?”

“Yeah, just the schedule and the script pages for those scenes, right?”

“Yes, and you’ll have to ex-out the parts of scenes we’re not doing…”

“Right, I’m familiar, I know how to do that.”

“Ok, because on my last shoot I had three PA’s and I found out the night before the shoot that none of them knew how to do sides, on the NIGHT BEFORE THE SHOOT, so, yeah, they didn’t last long.  It’s really important that you know how to do them, because I don’t want to get stuck doing them the night before the shoot, and I need to know that you and David are going to handle it and I don’t have to worry about it, because I’m not going to be able to shift my attention to sides, so you know how to double them up and —oh shit, I’m going to have to get a paper-cutter…”  He babbled for a few more minutes… I may have glazed over a little while trying to hint my way out the door, wondering why he was so insistent on this relatively simple point 5 weeks before anybody would need to address it.  I had answered him several times… did he want me to print samples to prove I knew what I was talking about?  Good thing I brought a printer I guess….

As soon as he took a breath long enough I interjected.  “We’ll figure it out, it’ll be fine.”  I smiled at him and quickly added “I have some more stuff I’m gonna grab and be right back, okay?”

“Oh yes, of course, sure, okay, no problem.”  He waved me out the door as if he felt bad delaying me.  That was my first taste of Michael’s complete inability to prioritize, and even if he tried he would be getting pestered by Rebekah’s shrill interruptions for the next 14 weeks.  


Before I left to get the mini-fridge, microwave, keys and petty cash, a discussion started about moving us to another office within the building.  There was a vacant one, apparently, that was completely wired and sported a kitchen area, but it was considerably larger and more expensive, and the management company wanted to charge us double for the space, despite renting us a space that was largely unusable, and the bigger one having been vacant for a year or so.  Paul and Hagai were on a location scout, so Mark, Rebekah, Michael, and the phone guys were standing around trying to figure out what to do and talking over each other when Rebekah said, “We’re definitely going to move, it’s just a matter of when.” 


I left to go to the bank and thankfully the bank was more receptive this time, and cashed the check.  My next stop was Flams, the key-making place… A fellow in his 70s with a twinkle in his eye like he had a thousand stories to tell puttered up to the counter and smiled at me sweetly, as if he were a long-lost grandfather that had rocked me to sleep as a baby.  There was something very comforting and warm about him, and the store, unlike traditional lock and key pigstys, was immaculate.  Every drawer labeled, every keyring and hide-a-key in it’s place with a handwritten price tag.  This man clearly loved his little store and would probably work it forever.  I explained what I needed and handed him the small yellow envelopes each containing one key, with Michael’s specific instructions on the outside noting the number of copies.  Mr. Flam starting cutting the first key when it occurred to me that if we were moving offices, why was I making keys for the old office?  I texted Michael to ask if we still needed keys and he immediately texted me back that we did not.  Mr. Flam was gracious and charged me for the key, and I left. 


Next stop, BestBuy.  The fridge and microwave were waiting patiently for me to pick up… but it occurred to me that if we were in a bigger office with a kitchen area, did we still want a mini-fridge?  I texted Michael again and he said to go ahead and pick up, although we may return it for a bigger one, he wasn’t sure.  Whatever, fine.  I just have to haul the fucking thing out to my car (BestBuy employees apparently were not able to help past the front door of the store), put it on a dolly, haul it up to the office, unwrap it, no big deal.  By the time I got back they had already moved to the new office, and about twenty minutes after I landed Michael told me Rebekah was probably going to go with a bigger fridge.  Genius.


Robert was still hiding in the old office, apparently with no internet now, and I hadn’t seen him all day - he opted against lunch, telling me he would get his own.  Okay, weird, but no problem.  I ordered lunch and went to work cleaning the kitchen, which wasn’t terribly dirty, just had a layer of dust and clutter from the last production left over from a year ago.  They decided to go with the original Craigslist option for the fridge, so later I would need to return the little one to BestBuy.  I plugged in the microwave and for whatever reason, it started cooking and wouldn’t stop.  None of the buttons were responsive.  Around that moment, Michael and Mark were passing by so I mentioned it.

“I think the microwave is defective.” 

Mark interjected immediately.  “Oh, well, if one socket doesn’t work, try plugging it into another socket, there’s two in the kitchen, that should do it.  If it blows the circuit just try the first one.”

Really?  Did he really assume that I didn’t know how electricity works?  I looked at him with a mixture of incredulous, insulted and amused.  “Do you want to look at it?”  Oh please, big strong man, fix this insurmountable mystery that I can’t figure out.

“Sure, yeah, I’ll take a look.”  Mark immediately looked regretful of saying anything, because it ultimately led to work for him.

Mark and Michael entered the kitchen.  “It’s not that it won’t power up, it’s that it starts going and won’t stop.”  Because it’s defective.  Which is why I said initially, ‘I think the microwave is defective.’  Because surprise!  I know how to plug in a microwave!

Both looked at the microwave which was humming and spinning and at first seemed to assume that I fucked it up somehow.  It reminded me of the Singing Bush, for those of you familiar with classic comedies, it was just doing it’s thing and REALLY didn’t care about anything else.  After a moment, Mark and Michael’s expressions shifted to visibly surprised.  Michael started pushing buttons, which did not respond.  “Oh, yeah, see none of these are working.  Like when you hit stop, it’s supposed to…” he trailed off.  

Awkward pause before I suggested an ending….  “Stop?”  Ya think?  It was hard not to start laughing at this brilliant assessment.  The guys seemed to have made a baffling discovery, on their own, that the microwave was definitely defective, and told me so.  Thanks guys.


Michael and I then attempted to put together a list of crafty snacks.  I came over to his desk and as we went through the list, Rebekah interrupted shrilly every 45 seconds or so.  

Michael was concentrating intensely.  “We want to make sure we get some healthy snacks, because Paul and Hagai try to eat healthy—“

“See, I told you I had dry erase markers!”  Rebekah triumphantly holding up a pack of multi-colored markers.

Michael glanced up briefly then returned to his task.  “I mean, we should get some candy, and some chocolate, but also get Kind bars, and maybe Balance bars—“

“I found a whole bunch of the fat ones, but I only have three of the thin ones, do they want more thin ones?”

Michael looked up, jerked away from his thoughts, and centered himself.  “They actually liked the fat ones.”  Rebekah returned to digging through her production kit and Michael redirected his attention to crafty.  “And get Coke, and Diet Coke, and Half-and-half, but not the non-fat kind, the regular—“

“Oh look, here’s a bunch more!  Look!”  Rebekah standing with an array of dry-erase markers laid out on a desk.  “When I said I had dry erase markers, I wasn’t kidding!  I have a whole arsenal!”  She grinned broadly, immensely proud of herself for this press-stopping discovery.

Michael obligatorily stood to see the cache of dry-erase markers, then sat back down.  “I think we have to get coffee stirrers, as much as I hate to do it, because they’re so wasteful, and people just stir their coffee once and throw them away, I just hate it, but I think we absolutely have to.  People are going to want coffee stirrers….”  After a few more earth-shattering revelations, the list was complete and I was ready to go shopping.


I repacked the microwave, loaded it with the fridge onto the dolly, and headed back to BestBuy.  This time, armed with petty cash, I would stop and order the full-size fridge for delivery, exchange the microwave for one that worked, and my last stop was Target to pick up crafty snacks for the office.  It was around 3:15 when I pulled out of the parking lot, and for some reason Robert was casually strolling towards the building, this time in a loud fuchsia polo.  It was too late to have gone for lunch, and he wasn’t coming from the parking lot… it was baffling.  Maybe he had gone to Trader Joe’s across the street, except that he wasn’t carrying anything.  He didn’t notice me as I drove past him, he just stared straight ahead with a glassy half-smile and kept walking, in a straight line.  Curious.


BestBuy insisted on unpacking the fridge, which had never been unpacked.  There was banding tape still intact on the packaging, but whatever.  They exchanged the microwave with no issues, and the clerk then tried to repack the fridge and re-attach the banding tape.  This process appeared that it might take a while, so I asked her if I could just get the receipt for the return and go, and maybe she could address the repacking later?   


Next stop was C&C Appliances, an endeavor of Efrain, 50-something hispanic man, and his son Joel, probably about 28.  Both were sweet as pie and told me they had an unexpected opening and could deliver the fridge tonight if needed, instead of tomorrow morning as I expected.  Beautiful.  I paid them in cash, took the receipt and headed to Target, the place where red shirts go to die.


Target went fairly well, I spent a little over $200 and got enough snacks to last a couple of weeks, and weirdly, ran into the shifty bartender from Corky’s, who was uncharacteristically awkward in this setting.  Now with all my errands run I headed back to the office, unloaded the microwave and all the food, hauled it upstairs and went to work turning the shoddy little kitchen into the center of social interaction.  By the time I was done, sodas were chilling in the fridge, snacks were laid out beautifully, coffee and tea ready to brew, fruit, candy and protein bars begged to be bit into.  It wasn’t elaborate, but it was cute, and clean, and inviting, and boasted a little bit of everything.  By the end of the day, I felt good about actually accomplishing something, even if half of the day was spent undoing everything I started the day before.  


So far my biggest annoyance is the lack of efficiency.  These people are working harder, not smarter.  They are talking, not listening.  They don’t seem to grasp the concept that waiting to make some decisions based on budget ultimately incurs more cost, which overall blows your budget anyway and usually costs more than making the decision early to spend a little money and do it right.  It will be interesting to see how this progresses over the next few weeks, but likely not that interesting.


After work I went straight to the gym and nearly killed myself on a cardio machine, again.  Check the scale?  Back down to 152, where I was before last weekend, so that’s a small victory!   It’s 1:30am and I’m crashing out.

Wednesday, July 31 - PREP DAY 3 - TGIF

For whatever reason 7am did not seem so cruel today; we actually got along just fine, it was like we had been friends for years.  Not great friends, but like the kind of weird-neighbor-you-run-into-at-the-grocery-store-every-so-often-and-politely-exchange-smalltalk-with friends, for years.  We were civil.  Quick shower and leftover sandwich for breakfast, then off to the excitement of another day!!!  


There was a meeting scheduled today with art department, so I sent a text to Michael around 8:15 asking if I should pick up some donuts and orange juice.  He quickly responded no, we didn’t have the budget.  I sat in the car, reading and re-reading the text.  Max cost of orange juice and donuts… maybe $17.  This was a 6-million dollar budget.  $17 is not going to make or break it, but whatever.  I told myself today that when things got moronic, pay attention because I wanted to write down every event with as much vivid detail as I could recall.


I arrived at the office around 8:40.  Michael was already there, already looking pained about his life.  He made me think of someone who was voted in high school as “most likely to have an ulcer”.  It hit me at some point that he spoke like an overbearing Jewish mother who was tearing her hair out trying to plan a bar mitzvah for an unruly tween, and it was such an accurate metaphor for me… every tiny detail that he was fussing about didn’t really matter, it was all fluff.  Nothing was all that urgent or worth the slightest amount of worry, but for Michael’s blood pressure, running out of blue cardstock seemed to demand the same panic attack as a life-or-death scenario.  All I could do was try to be a voice of reason, kind of like raising teenagers; and hope that even though they claimed not to listen to me out of principle, it would sink in at some point and seed an “original” idea that might even be laced with some common sense.  Of course, this approach rarely works with teenagers, and these were full grown adults.


Robert strutted into the office around 9:30 to teach us a lesson.  “So, I just want to mention, even though nobody will probably care, the way I like my staples.”  It was hard not to giggle a little but I stifled it.  This part, I actually do understand - wrongly placed staples times thousands of pages can get cumbersome to work around, so he was just letting us know we could make a small effortless adjustment to make his life easier.  I totally get that… what I didn’t get was the way he presented this point - a mixture of defiance, mansplaining, a little anger thrown in, capped off with anticipated disgust that nobody cared anyway.  “First of all, I hate paperclips.  For two reasons.  They tend to catch on papers and come apart in a stack, and also, my computer has a magnet in it, next to the power supply, you know, where the computer power cord plugs in, there’s a magnet, and paperclips stick to the magnet.”  I silently pictured his laptop sitting peacefully on his desk, then suddenly being mauled by a stack of paperclips, ferociously attacking the power supply magnet.  Okay, Robert, aaaah, I don’t know what to say here… I’m trying really hard not to laugh out loud, and just paying attention, need to write this shit down later…

“Oh, you don’t like paperclips, because you don’t scan anything.”  I just said it, flatly, not making any accusations, also not cutting any breaks.  

“No, I don’t scan anything,”  he paused.  “Also, when I staple something I like it to be vertical, in the upper left hand corner, as close to the edge as it can get, like this.”  He held up visual aids, two pieces of paper stapled together, with a vertical staple, in the upper left-hand corner.  Good thing you brought that.  “Now, when it’s landscape, the way I like it is different and maybe unexpected—“  (yes, that happened) “—the staple should be in the upper right hand corner, like this.”  He held up the second visual aid, two papers with a landscaped report, and the staple exactly the same place and direction as the first portrait-aligned visual aid.  “See? So that way when I’m flipping through them I can do this…” 

I had to tune out as he demonstrated how to flip from one page to the next, conveniently aided by the very well-placed example staples.  I was surprised he didn’t wheel in a projector and give us a powerpoint presentation, to make sure we were understanding the material, and follow it up with a timed exam, which would consist of two sets of papers in portrait and landscape orientation, and a stapler.  Except I knew why, because Michael would fail on purpose.

I watched him with a combination of amusement and studiously memorizing each detail, and managed not to laugh.  “Well that’s easy enough, we can do that.”  I smiled at him and he left, immediately followed by Michael rolling his eyes and resuming whatever earth-shattering emergency Michael was dealing with.


“Okay, so Paul and Hagai are coming in around 11.  And they are going to take that office, because we set it all up for them.  And the office supply order is coming in today, and then we need to put up those marker boards, and I need you to go to Flams to get some keys made.  Also, we need to put up the parking signs because when people in this building have a production they will take all of our parking spots, and those are our spots.”  The parking lot was kind of a joke, there was enough empty spaces to park an additional 500 cars, but Michael wanted to make sure our 20 spaces were marked and nobody else would take them.  I get it, I can handle that.  “We need to print the signs, and some of them will have names, I’ll send you the list of names.  The others can just say ‘TGIF Reserved Parking’, for the rest of the spots, so that people know those spots are reserved for, you know, TGIF.   And they need to be laminated.  And we need to find those kind of posts that the other company was using … do you know which company was using them?  The other marked spots?  I wonder if it’s the company that is moving out Friday.”  He raised an eyebrow as if to say, ‘Can we steal their lawn darts?’  “Maybe you can go out to the lot and check, which company, and see what they did to mount their signs.  And I need you to go to the post office to pick up a roll of stamps, and then, you know, lunch.  And I’m thinking, the copy room needs like, some shelves, so maybe you can find something from the building, and I’m thinking I can just put all the office supplies in there, so everyone can use them if they need to, and of course I’ll keep a separate stash for when things run out, because people always say they’re out and then after they leave we clean out their desks and oh, look, they have a bunch of office supplies, because people hoard them.”

I listened to him act annoyed by the idea of other people doing what he did routinely, dismissed the thought and nodded at him.  “I think they used a, garden stake thing, for the parking.  But I’ll check.”

“Okay great, so you’ll do that, ok, and I need to work on this schedule.”  He resumed fervently studying his monitor.  The schedule was basically a printout of a google calendar, with one or two events filled in for the week, that would probably take him, all day.

“I’m on it.”


First I decided to put shelves in the copy room.  I went in there to find that nobody had bothered to even sweep it.  A year’s worth of dust had gathered amidst strewn trash and remnants of past tenants… it needed a good cleaning.  So I knocked that out, picked a spot against the back wall for the shelving, and moved a credenza nearer to the copier so that there would be a spot for stapling, making piles of copies, maybe putting a paper-cutter, sorting through collated whatevers and anything else people making copies might need table space for.  I found a couple of shelving cabinets in a back room nobody was using, loaded them onto a furniture dolly, wheeled them into the copy room and wiped them down.  There was plenty of room for a year’s worth of office supplies and paper on the shelving.  I felt pretty proud of myself, but I also noticed that while I was working A) nobody offered to help me, even with the shelving units I was hefting around by myself, and B) nobody was bothering me, probably so they wouldn’t feel obligated to offer any help.  I was fine with that.


Next I checked out the space where the marker boards were slated to go.   Next to Michael and Rebekah’s desks was a small open space, a blank wall and separate closed office surrounded with randomly placed empty file cabinets and pieces of disassembled cubicle desks.  Michael and Rebekah decided this area would belong to Paul and Hagai.  Having had a little exposure to Paul and Hagai, my impression of these two was that they would pick whatever space they liked, and settle there, regardless of Michael and Rebekah’s plans for them; which, I gathered after my limited exposure to those two, rarely seemed to make any sense.  


I pointed out to Michael that there was already a marker board in the hallway next to the kitchen, it was the same size as the one they were working on in the other office, and it was near some other empty desks, as well as next to another empty closed office.  

“But Paul and Hagai will be down there,” he gestured to the other end of the room, “because we set up that office for them.  We put them in that office, and it’s all set up, so they can use the wall down there next to it, so let’s put the marker boards there.”  I decided not to mention that Paul and Hagai will just settle wherever they feel like settling, and that he just blew $400 on marker boards that nobody really needed, even though both of these points seemed blatantly obvious.  

“Oh, okay.”  Thank you for mansplaining that to me.  At the very least we could consider pulling down the existing marker board and moving it.  Maybe I’ll bring that up tomorrow.  But for now, I assigned myself the task of cleaning up the shitpile that was immediately outside Paul and Hagai’s office, and spent the next hour arranging the filing cabinets, relocating up the cubicle pieces, and cleaning up the trash and random component debris around them.  Just as I wrapped up, dripping with sweat, Paul arrived, moved a table next to Rebekah’s desk, plugged in his laptop and planted himself there.  Rebekah was subtly but visibly bothered by this, I found this moderately hilarious and she was uncharacteristically quiet for the rest of the day.


Just as I was clearing up the last few remnants, Michael beckoned to me.  “Oh, so Loa, it’s like, almost 11.”

I looked at him, like, ‘really?’  “Lunch, right.”  I hadn’t forgotten.  Especially since lunch is specifically the only consistent job that I have, everything else is one-offs at this point.  ‘Almost-11’ was not cause to panic, but Michael apparently felt obliged as he peered at me over his glasses, eyes wide and brow furrowed, to remind me of this task, whilst I stood soaked in sweat from busting my ass all morning to be sure the producers didn’t arrive to an office that looked like a fucking pigsty.  “I’m on it.”


I sent everyone a menu and asked for their order when Michael came to explain to me how to list receipts in a spreadsheet, something I have done professionally for twenty years or so.  I asked him if we should total receipts by expense, and he said no.  “That is production accounting’s job, we provide a list, with totals, and that’s it.  The rest is up to them, they are just lazy and we are not here to do their jobs for them.”

“You don’t total by the expense account?”

“Nope, that is something production accounting is supposed to do.”

“Well, if I’m making a spreadsheet anyway, it’s a pretty easy step to just note the account, right?”

“No, because if we start doing that then suddenly they will want more.  If you give them an inch, they want a yard.”  I decided not to correct him on this old adage.

“Wow.  I have never, NOT done that.”  At this point I noticed Paul glance at Michael strangely.  He had apparently been listening to the conversation though he didn’t seem to be paying attention.  It struck me that this might be the first taste he was getting of Michael’s attitude.

“Well that’s the difference between Features and Commercials.”  Okay.  Features are less work, apparently.  I felt like this could be old-school IATSE disgruntlement talking, and I was mildly fascinated albeit disgusted.  Michael continued, “It’s just like the AD’s, sometimes they want us to send out the call sheet, but my thought is, they are the ones on the set, they have already handed everybody a copy of the call sheet, and we are waiting at the office, and they send us a call sheet and they want us to distribute it to the whole crew, and I’m like, ‘no, that’s not my job.’  We don’t do that, the AD’s can send their own call sheets, they’re just being lazy and want us to do everything, and it’s not our job.  It’s just like, we don’t need to know about what’s going on with the different departments, they need to handle their own thing.”  I wondered if Michael had ever been to a set before?  The idea that it was somehow an inconvenience for him to sit in an office and send one email when someone on set could do it sounded lazy to me, as people on set are often, you know, actually working.  

“I always kind of felt like production should be in touch with all departments, and know what's going on, no?”

“Nope.  That way if they screw up, it’s on them.”

“But production ends up getting in trouble for it anyway, right?”

“Nope.  We don’t get in trouble because they are supposed to handle their own stuff.”

“Okay.”  I responded with the feigned fascination of someone who was learning the ropes for the first time, grateful to Michael for showing me how to operate.  There was a knot in the pit of my stomach though, and I was questioning whether I could take 14 weeks of this mindset, to deliberately limit communication, deny knowledge of anything outside of your own office-supply and calendar world, in an effort not to assist anyone with the work they could likely use your assistance for, which could ultimately benefit the whole production for you to at least know about.


Maybe there was an element of self-preservation here but it sounded like bullshit to me.  Making a film should be a team effort, right?  You work closely with your department heads and if you’re lucky, for this short engagement you’re both part of, they become your family, right?  What the fuck was this cold-shoulder-fuck-everybody thing?  Was it a necessary answer to decades of abuse?  Maybe.  Was Michael the exception or the rule in the film industry?  If I were producing, would I hire Michael were he the last fucking coordinator on earth?  If I was producing, would I want to know as much as I could about the whole operation?  At least bullet points?  I’m convinced that I would, and I also want to work with people like-minded, who want to keep the lines of communication open, if for no other reason than to know where all the money I was spending was actually going.  You want to talk about budget?  Fastest way to fuck up a budget is tell everybody to spend whatever they want and don’t tell you on what, because it’s not your job to know, and then buy marker boards you don’t need.


After working in this office for a minute and being incessantly aggravated by the poor fluorescent lighting, I mentioned, “You know what would be cool in here, is just some floor lamps in the corners, maybe desk lamps, and to turn these overheads off.”

“It’s not in the budget.”  I was told, and left it at that.


Later on I was installing the copier driver on my laptop when I noticed that A) it was black-and-white, not color (why….?), and B) the toner was low.  I asked about this.  

“Right, so, we always get whatever toner was left in it, from the last rental, that’s why we buy a toner cartridge, but we can still get, like, a few hundred pages, out of it.  Sometimes if you just shake it back and forth…” He began to blather about how to stretch a toner cartridge for a few more precious printed pages, but this was not my question.

“I mean, it was just delivered, is it standard to deliver with only a little bit of toner left?”  In my book, this was the equivalent of renting a car with an empty gas tank.

“Right, that’s why we buy another cartridge, because we get whatever was left from the last rental….” This was clearly pointless.  These cartridges ran over $200 but there was no logic here that Michael would recognize, about a copier installer deliberately delivering a unit with no toner left which would force the renter to buy another cartridge immediately.  I gave up on this argument, but Michael continued to school me.  “You know the deal, right?  When we change the cartridge, we order another one.”

“Oh, so you don’t find out you’re out when you’re halfway through printing tomorrow’s sides?”  I laughed a little because ...

“It happens.  Oh, my god it happens aaaaaalll the time.  You have no idea.”  He rolled his eyes in remembrance of past incompetents.  “So anyway, as soon as we change it, we order another one.”

“Oh, I believe it.”  I chuckled a little.  “What bothers me, is when someone changes the toner, then hides the old one behind the copier, and I don’t know it’s changed, until we run out, and I look for a fresh one, and all I find is the old one in a new box.”

“Oh my god, right?  Why do people do that?  Or, they cause a paper-jam, and just leave, and you don’t find out about it, because they don’t fix it, and they’re like, ‘that’s not my job.’  I hate that!  It’s everybody’s job!”

Again I listened incredulously to Michael act annoyed at behavior he practiced himself professionally.  ‘It’s not my job?’  Really?  That bothers you?  


On a side note, the word “incredulous” is becoming much more frequent in my everyday speech.


Meanwhile, Rebekah was pitching Paul on a caterer.  “I have this great caterer, I know she will be awesome, and she will always work with me on the budget, so can I go ahead and book her for this?”

Paul responded as any seasoned line producer would.  “Get a couple of quotes, and we’ll send them through, and go from there.”

“I really don’t want to do that.”  Although I wasn’t part of this conversation, her response pierced through the office to the center of my head.  Paul was making a reasonable request that any production manager should honor, and that was to bargain shop a little bit, or at least pretend to for higher-ups, and Rebekah was immediately dismissing it, because she wanted to hire her friend.  She was so transparent it was sickening, and I could feel Paul bristling a little bit.  “It’s just that she works all the time, and right now she’s available, and I’m afraid that she’s going to get booked up if we don’t jump on it, and I know she will work with me on the budget.”  Okay, so the shoot is still almost five weeks away, and she’s using the ‘this-deal’s-only-available-for-a-limited-time’ excuse to avoid getting a catering quote from somewhere else?  Plus, she used the budget line twice, which probably means it’s not true.  No decent producer is that stupid, and Paul knew better.  I wonder if Rebekah even knows any other caterers… but either way, it’s not hard to get a quote, there are production caterers all over LA.


After lunch I was tasked with creating and posting the parking signs.  Since they needed to be laminated, I looked up lamination sheets at Staples for $57/100 and forwarded to Michael.  Rebekah immediately responded.

“That’s too much.  We need to take them to Staples Copy/Print center, and they will do them for cheaper.”

I doubted this statement.  “I found another box, with only 50 sheets, that should be enough, for about $30, would that work?”

“No, it’s too much.  Call Staples and find out how much they charge to laminate them.”

I spent the next half-hour researching this.  We were creating 20 parking signs.  Staples charged $1.89 - 2.59 per letter-sized page, plus tax.  This would come to a minimum of $41.58.

“Do you want them to be heavier duty?”

“Yeah, they should be sturdy, they need to hold up.”

The heavy duty version of Staples would come to $56.98.

“You can take them to FedEx, that will be cheaper.  They have a self-serve machine.”

FedEx Office charges $2.49 per page, plus tax, this would come to $54.78.  And just for good measure, Office Depot charges the same as FedEx.  

“I just want it to be the best solution.”

“Do you want to have FedEx or Staples do it even if it’s more expensive?”  

“No, I just want it to be the best option.”  Rebekah went on to mumble something illegible as Michael approached my desk.  

“Did you find the stakes?”

“I think so, I think Home Depot has them, I just can’t find them on their site.”

“Well, okay.  So I need you to go to Flams and get the keys first, then go to the post office and get the stamps.  Then, just go to Home Depot and if they have them they have them, but if they don’t have them maybe they will have something else, like, just tell them what you want and they might be like, ‘oh, I think there’s something in plumbing that will work,’ and maybe you can just find something that is similar or that will get the job done and just, go there and ask, you know, and see what happens.  Maybe they will be like, ‘oh, here’s something in garden’ or whatever, but usually somebody somewhere will be able to help you or find something else that will be something we can use.  Or you know, that will work for this.”  

I wondered if Michael had ever been to Home Depot before, and attempted to ask an apathetic stoned 20-year-old on minimum wage for assistance.  Or maybe he had, and it had damaged him for life.  Maybe his mind was still trapped there, and his body wandered around like a shell of a man trying desperately to find plumbing!  Ooooh kaaaay reel it in Loa… 

Michael abruptly leaned in and whispered to me, almost inaudibly, “And if you find the right laminate at Staples, just get it.”  I nodded in acceptance of this clandestine mission and left.


When I got back the task at hand was to laminate the parking signs.  I had printed them all on my portable printer on yellow cardstock, because it was a color printer and looked better than black-and-white.  Now, to get an idea of the weirdness that happened next, it’s important to know that we are working in an open-floor-plan space.  There are short cubicle dividers around Michael and Rebekah's desks, that land below the shoulder; the rest of the room doesn't even have those so we are all clearly visible to eachother.  I spent the next 20 minutes or so laminating the signs, first one side, then the other.  I lined them up, pressed out the wrinkles, and was stacking them all neatly next to me.  I hadn’t taken a break, since, well, never.  On sign 18 or so, Michael sidled up to me, apparently impatient with my progress.  “Are you pretty close to going outside?”

I looked up, didn’t say anything, but smiled at him, with a look that said, ‘you can see me working here, right?’

He leaned in and spoke in a hushed voice.  “I’m just trying to get out of here before 7, you know?”

It was about 4:30.  “I’m almost done, then I can run down there and do it.  I will need to borrow a hammer from Mark.”

His voice returned to it’s normal volume.  “Oh, no rush, ok, no problem, just want to make sure these get done tonight, they look beautiful.  Oh my god they are so beautiful I could cry.”  He diva-walked away towards the kitchen.

Really.  They are letter-sized pages on yellow paper that read ‘RESERVED PARKING TGIF” in red arial caps, wrapped in cheap laminate.  I personally didn’t feel too emotional about them, but, I was doing a fabulous job, so there was that.

I finished the laminates, scooped up the pile, grabbed the stakes, some packing tape and a razor knife, and headed downstairs to Mark’s cave.  He loaned me a hammer and some work gloves, and then I exited the building to the burning sun of a midsummer 5pm. 


When I accepted the position of “Office PA” I hadn’t really planned on this kind of work, but whatever.  I spent the the next 45 minutes moving the rocks in the parking lot median, pounding the wire brackets into the dirt underneath, then replacing the rocks to add stabilization, before I saw Michael approaching me in the parking lot.  

“Are you okay?”

I looked up at him from my crouched position, hammer in hand.  “Yeah?”  I was drenched in sweat for the second time today, practicing manual labor in the unrelenting California sun.

“Oh, okay, I just wanted to make sure you’re okay.  I texted you but I thought maybe you left your phone in the office.”

I pulled my phone out of my back pocket, he had texted three minutes ago.  “I’ve got it, sorry didn’t see it.”

“Oh no worries, just making sure you’re okay, cuz I was up in the office thinking, ‘I wonder if she’s okay,’ so I just wanted to check.”  I get it.

The office was located directly in front of the parking lot, and he could have looked out a window at any time to see me working, but I let that go.  “I’ve got all the stakes in, I had to move the rocks to get to the dirt, then I’m replacing the rocks so they’re more stable, and now I just have to tape all the signs on.”

He rolled his eyes, knowing that this was no picnic.  “Oh, I’m so sorry, but they look great, and, yeah, they really look great, was just checking in on you!”

“I should be done in, another, 20 minutes or so.”  

“No rush!  They look great!  Okay.”  Michael left and I wondered what that was about.  Although, each time I crouched down to pound in a stake, I’d stand up and go black a little bit, but I honestly didn’t think it was visible from the windows above me.  This happened commonly before my period when I’d forgotten to take iron, it had been happening for years and was pretty good at covering it to look like I was just stepping back and wiping the sweat away.  


I wrapped it up a little after six and returned the hammer and gloves to Mark before heading back up to the office, my wet shirt and jeans clinging to my undoubtedly smelly frame, hands black from handling dirt and rocks of the parking lot.

As I walked in Michael couldn't resist an opportunity.  “Okay, so we should think about gathering up all the trash.”  Really?

A short chuckle may have emerged despite my efforts to choke it.  “I’m a little grimy.”  I stopped in the kitchen to wash my hands and grab a water from the shimmering, spacious, spotless, stainless steel Samsung fridge.  I kind of wanted to crawl inside of it for a moment but resisted the urge.  Instead, I picked up a couple of trash bags and started to make the rounds.  

As I was emptying the office trash bins, Michael was on hold with Apple tech support, trying to figure out why his calendar wasn’t syncing properly.  Apparently he was still working on the schedule.  “When she goes, you go!”  He whispered to me, and I looked at him and nodded in acknowledgment.  

“I’m only going to stay long enough to figure out this calendar thing, but when she leaves, you can leave!”  He was gesturing towards Rebekah’s empty desk to let me know I didn’t have to stay until he left.  Since he was on the phone, I didn’t say anything but looked at him again and nodded again to say, ‘I understand.’

Apple returned to the line.  “Thank you for calling Apple Care, how may I assist you today?”

Michael looked positively panicked.  “Can you hold for a second?”


He muted the phone and loudly whispered this time, still gesturing wildly to Rebekah’s desk, “When she goes, you can go!”

“Okay.”  I nodded a third time and this time he seemed to think I finally got the point, and returned to his call.  Apparently he really wanted me to leave.


I finished with the trash and stacked it by the door before returning to my desk to pack up my laptop.  Rebekah had already packed up and was chatting with Robert by the front of the office when I waved to Michael that I was leaving.  

He muted the phone again.  “Did you get Rebekah’s salad?”

I looked at him, confused,  “What?”

“Her salad, it’s right there.”

Hidden behind a short divider on an unused desk was the remains of Rebekah’s lunch.  “Wow.” I didn’t really know how to process this.  “There are, plenty of trash cans around here.”

Michael rolled his eyes.  “I know.  Did you already take the trash down?”

“No, I’ll do it on the way out.”

“See you tomorrow.”


It just so happened that Rebekah wrapped up her conversation with Robert just as I was passing through the front door, so she followed me to the elevator.  “I’m going to a pizza party tonight,”  She ventured, clearly not expecting a response.  “A bunch of friends from my bowling team -- I didn’t bowl this summer but I’m on a bowling tea m and I usually do -- one of them owns a pizza a beer place in Santa Monica, it’s actually a really cool pizza and beer place, so every so often we get a bunch of people together and go out …” she kept on going at warp speed, as I studied her voice, her body language, the content of this fluffy conversation without saying anything.  At some point my amusement produced a slight involuntary smile creeping around my face, standing in the elevator clutching two bags of trash.  She glanced at me briefly and was visibly confused by the look on my face, then immediately began scrolling through her phone and then talking loudly to herself as the elevator doors opened.  “Oh, he’s coming?  Why is he coming?  I can’t believe… “ she had stepped out of the elevator and her voice trailed off as she looked back…. Clearly she expected me to follow but I was standing there headed for the basement, where the trash goes.  “Oh you’re not—? Oh, okay, see you tomorrow!”  I wonder about Rebekah, I think she needs to be the center of attention for some reason, maybe she doesn’t feel like part of the ‘in’ crowd otherwise or something?  Or maybe her incessant blabbing is just a combination of nerves and ADD.  Hard to say. 


So after three days, I have established a couple of ideas about Rebekah and Michael.  Rebekah will always challenge a good idea if it’s not her own, because she needs to feel smart; even though her ideas are inefficient, expensive and lack any common sense.  Michael needs to tell me to do something immediately before I’m going to do it anyway, because I’m his only underling at the moment, and he needs to feel important; even though he has fashioned a career out of deliberately staying as unimportant as possible.   It’s a miracle the film industry has survived this long.  


I skipped the gym tonight because my landlord stopped by and I found out she had a stroke last year, and still had fuzzy vision in her left eye.  I began to ask her about her treatment and therapy because I thought it might be beneficial information for Holly if there was much crossover in her symptoms.  It turns out, there was, and she talked about one of the things that the Kaiser Neurology team refused to address, possible pressure on the optic nerve.  Holly’s headache’s always radiated from her right eye and from Berenice’s account, pressure to the optic nerve could be fatal if not treated.  Later on I talked to Holly for about an hour to recap the day, and still later chatted with Jon, who had asked me to go away this weekend with him and his kids.  I didn’t think it was a good move because I expected to be catching up on sleep all weekend, so I opted to pass this time around.  Still later, an old bandmate asked me to play bass with him for a show Saturday night, which might actually be fun.  I’m missing the Organ Donors gigs and could use a little rock and roll outlet at the moment.


It’s 2:15 am, and I’m going to bed.

Thursday, August 1 - PREP DAY 4 - TGIF

Today 7am was not in my corner, it was more like I was the uncool kid at the party and got passed off to the weird cousin, 8am.  8am and I weren’t exactly soulmates either, we went our separate ways pretty quickly.  


I’m writing this at the end of the day, I’m exhausted with a persistent lump in my throat, trying to decide whether or not to give up on this torture.  I’m questioning whether I have completely missed the mark - maybe I am the stupid one, and all of these folks surrounding me are more educated and experienced, and my incompetence has blinded me to this obvious point.  Maybe I have misjudged myself and everyone else in a bizarre case of reverse reality, if there is such a diagnosis.


Having slept in a little, I showered, blowdried my hair and arrived at the office around 8:50.   Dressed in sleek black jeans and a cute camouflage top, with silky shining hair down, I felt a little like a champ pulling in to my own parking space, noting all the parking signs mounted and looking snazzy.  The building tenants seemed to be respecting the reserved spots, it was a little feather in my cap for a minute.  I had barely entered the office when Michael started in on me.

“So today, I need you to record the outgoing voicemail message.  And we have to go through all the credit card receipts.  And figure out what desks we can put in Robert’s office.  And the trash dumpster is coming in today.”  All of that amounted to less than an hour of work, but that was fine.  I was dragging a little anyway.  

Rebekah breezed in around 9:30.  “So, I saw the signs but I actually wanted my parking spot on the other side of the tree, I know, it’s weird, it’s just where I like it, cuz I like it to be in the shade, at the end of the day, so I pulled up the sign with my name but I couldn’t get it back into the dirt.”

Figures.  Rebekah was no genius but somewhere in the back of my mind I thought she might have been a little smarter than that.  It’s like, when you’re on a hot set, you don’t touch anything, because you never know what props or furniture or even dressings are set to blow up, so you either tiptoe in to take a look, or you stay the fuck off the set, because touching something could result in creating a bunch of work for someone else, who will despise you for it.  Rebekah wasn’t the type to give a shit about this kind of detail.

“Oh, well, okay.  I wish you didn’t do that; it would have been easier to pull the tape off and just swap the signs, and leave the stakes alone.”  The odd thing was, the night before I actually figured this would happen, and had already come up with a plan on how to swap the signs to save myself a headache, which was obviously pointless now.

“Oh, yeah, sorry!  I was trying to be helpful! Hahah!”  She laughed, but I don’t know if it was the kind of embarrassed self-deprecating ‘I-am-so-sorry-I-fucked-that-up’ laugh, or more like the wicked stepmother ‘now-you-have-to-clean-the-chimney-again-and-miss-the-prince’s-ball-because-I-hate-that-you-have-potential’ laugh.  Very hard to say.  She brushed it off and started in on her own self-absorbed monologue.  “I’m going to a screening tonight, at Landmark, at 7:30, it’s a movie coming out, and one of my friends directed it, kind of like a documentary, but not really, anyway he’s a great guy, I’ve known him forever, so I’m kind of excited about it, did really well at Sundance and at Cannes… I went to Cannes this year because I wasn’t working, so I was like, ‘why not go to Paris?’ and I have a friend there that I could stay with, that I've known forever, and it was so much fun… ” on and on.  This speech had two functions - A) give everyone an excuse as to why she had to leave early, and B) make herself feel important, or smart, or connected, or whatever insecurity she was grappling with at that moment.


I picked up my packing tape and razor knife, rose from my seat and announced passively, “I’m gonna go, fix the, parking sign.”  I spoke in the general direction of Michael and Rebekah but didn’t make eye contact.

When I was about 30 feet away I heard Michael mumbling and figured this speech was for me…. “Rrrmmm nummm ler…ray… mmrrnnoorr…. Know that… before you head out the door…”

I turned around to look at him.  “Sorry, what?  I didn’t hear you.”  My tone was flat, not pissed but not jazzed, but he obviously needed me to hear whatever he was saying.

“I just wanted you to know that, before you head out the door.”

“Before that, what was the first part?”  At this point, my tone could have been interpreted as sharp, by someone who was really being an ass or frighteningly insecure.  I was leaving the office for five fucking minutes.  What was so god-damned important?

“The dumpster is coming today.”

I looked at him, waiting for whatever the interesting part was.

“Waste Management is going to deliver the dumpster today, so I just wanted you to know that, because they won’t come upstairs and tell us, we’re going to have to go downstairs and check and see if it arrived, so I just wanted you to know that, before you head out the door.”

I stared at Michael, still waiting and a little dumbfounded.  He had suddenly become very engrossed in his computer and refused to make eye contact himself, maybe he discovered how stupid this exchange sounded?  I wondered how many zeroes of fucks did he expect me to give about this right now?  First and foremost, I was busy for a few minutes, and I was only going to the parking lot, to redo the work I did yesterday, that Rebekah just decided to take a shit on.  “Okay.”  I said, still looking at him, while he continued to ignore me.  I waited for him to go on, because this emergency obviously deserved my undivided attention, but he didn’t.  He just uncomfortably stared at his computer and ignored me.  After a few seconds, I slowly turned back around and let my face settle into my actual sentiments, I was a shade beyond pissed.  His petty control game was getting to me.


I went downstairs to Mark’s lair and sat down across from his desk.  He could tell I was in a foul mood and offered me some chicken, and suddenly I understood.  Maybe Mark wasn’t a stupid guy, or a lazy guy, he had just been dealing with shit like this for 26 years.  He had much more intestinal fortitude than I ever would, nearly having a breakdown at the 4-day milestone, so maybe there was a health insurance clause in there somewhere.  I actually admired him, for being able to tune out all of the crap, and just be the guy, in the den full of tools and gadgets and schematics and garbage mowing down some hot delicious fried chicken.  I was in no hurry to fix the parking sign at that point, so we chatted for a few minutes.  

He has gout, as it turns out.  “It’s because I eat this shit.”  He gestured to the fried chicken.  “It’s not good for anybody.”

“How do you treat it?”

“I took some medication, a couple days ago, and that helped.  Usually it will go away after a few days, but man, it’s not fun.”  He rose slowly and I could see the sharp pains he was suppressing cross his features.  

“I’m sorry, that sounds awful.”  For a moment, it was nice to just be empathetic and forget my own troubles.  I resisted the urge to mention Workers Comp and wished there was something I could do for him.

“Ah, it’s okay.  It goes away.”

I grabbed the hammer, promised to bring it back and headed for the lot.  Rebekah’s version of relocating the stakes was laughable… she had attempted to swap hers with someone else’s and basically propped both of them around the rocks in the median; a broccoli fart might have blown them over.  I crouched down again, thankfully this time in the morning shade, repositioned the spot, sliced off the tape, shifted the spider-webbed rocks, pounded the stakes back down, replaced the rocks, re-taped the signs, and stood back to grimly admire my handiwork, again.  I didn’t have much to be proud of in this job, so I was reduced to professional pride in the exact positioning, pristine lettering, lamination, facing angle and taping of reserved parking signs, and these looked pretty damned perfect.  Kind of like yesterday, but hopefully satisfactory to Rebekah’s randomized whims this time.


After returning the hammer I wandered reluctantly upstairs, but by the time I re-emerged into the office I had shaken off the disappointment.  I addressed Michael with a ready-to-get-started chirp, “Okay, so the voicemail box, we need an outgoing message right?”

“Oh, yeah, ummm, we actually need to do a quick meeting.”

I didn’t know what he meant by this.  “Okay, I just came up with a quickie script, I can show you, pretty simple….”  I took a perch at my laptop and inflated the text on the monitor.

He had risen from his desk and was walking towards the office exit.  “We just need a little meeting real quick.”  A pause.  “Outside the office.”  He was waiting for me to follow him.

I was confused by this, but complied.  “Okay…”. ??? and followed him out of the office towards the elevators.  

Once we were in the building common area, he started with his rhetoric.  “Okay, so I just want to make sure that you’re happy here, because it really seems like you’re not happy, and Rebekah was talking to me about it, and if you’re not, that’s okay, we just need to know, because I know, it’s not what you’re used to, this job is a PA job, and, that’s just what it is, but if you’re not happy, then, you’re not happy, but I just need to know that you’re happy here, because I don’t see your enthusiasm, and I really need you to be more, like, enthusiastic, even though I know, it’s not what you’re used to, but that’s the job, and I just don't see you smiling, enough, so I need you to smile more, and I just need you to be like, more ‘yay!’ about everything, and I’m not seeing that ‘yay’ from you right now, and I really need that.”

He was giving me the preamble to the ‘you’re-fired’ speech, but there was no way in hell I would let that happen this easily.  I cannot be fired by this excuse for a prick.  I also silently wondered if he would ever speak these words to anyone in a union, or anyone with a penis.  I doubted it, but either way, I was neither.  “Well, I am a little frustrated, by the lack of efficiency,” was all I ventured.  I didn’t point any fingers, I didn’t place any blame, I simply stated a reasonable sentiment.  You’d have to be my mother to fire me for that.

He rolled his eyes, in a sympathetic way, and began climbing the pinnacle of excuses that this business apparently takes for granted.  “I know, and I am too, and it’s just— I’m not saying that it’s perfect?  I get frustrated too!  But that’s the way things have always been done… and I know you’re smart!  Like, everybody knows, you’re smart!  I have to deal with it too… ” I tuned out somewhere, since everything he said followed a pattern; sympathize, complain about your own problems, throw in an obligatory compliment, pretend to accept the protocol, and hope for agreement.  


After a brief pause he stood looking at me with this ‘you’re-probably-fired-just-shrug-it-off-and-move-on’ kind of look on his face, and I spoke up again.  “I guess, I’m kind of frustrated too, because, I don’t need to be told, 50 times, to do something, I kind of get it, the first time, so, like, around time 46 or 48 of being told the same thing, I might be, like, you know, less enthusiastic.”

“I don’t know what to tell you, I can’t help that.”  His tone had switched to pure cold-shoulder as he visibly blew this off.  He was hoping I would say something that would end this union, but I wouldn’t give this sad replica of a human the satisfaction.  “Rebekah tells me the same things all day long and I just have to deal with it, and you know, shit rolls downhill.”  


That’s the worst excuse I’ve heard in a while, and I’ve been here for FOUR DAYS!!!  I guess the general consensus is, if someone else practices behavior that’s nonsensical, you have to do it too?  Or, as my selfish stupidity dictates, you can end the cycle, dipshit.  Of course I couldn’t say that, but I didn’t have to, because someone else happened to exit the office towards the elevators at that instant, and Michael’s countenance immediately shifted while he talked to them.  I don’t remember who it was or what the fuck they were discussing, except that they didn’t matter, it was something completely irrelevant, and demanded Michael’s full attention.


Whoever it was got on the elevator and disappeared, and Michael turned back to me, his face instantly shifting back to the hurried, twisted, ‘please-let-me-fire-you’ look, and I responded with the only thing I could think of, a big smile and reassuring burst of energy.  “I will be a ray of sunshine.”  I nodded as if to say, ‘I mean it, I won’t let you down,’  and he pretended to buy it, because ethically, it’s the only thing he could do, and there may be a guilty shred of ethics buried in his psyche somewhere.


We returned to the office, and I didn’t address the voicemail, and neither did Michael.  This was a little unsettling, because if they didn’t want my voice on the voicemail, I probably wouldn’t be here for long.  I felt myself wondering what the instant messages between Michael and Rebekah contained, and realized I was being sucked into their middle-school drama.  Should I care?  No.  Did I care?  A little.  I could feel myself being pounded into a pulp in their digital banter, call it DESP (digital extra-sensory perception), as they both went uncharacteristically silent with uncharacteristically furious attention focused on their laptops for a while.


Neither of them asked much of me for the rest of the day, which was also unsettling, and slightly relieving.  I spoke up to say, “I would like to get to Paul’s receipts today, if possible,” with a quiet unassuming tone, as if I were asking for permission.  

Michael responded to this.  “Yes, you should do that, so yeah, just, for sure, do that.  That needs to get done.”  He couldn’t say anything just once, it had to be a minimum of two or three times to create emphasis on his point, which was usually pointless.  I was going to do it anyway, since A) it was a request from his boss, and B) I had nothing else to do.


After ordering, picking up and delivering everyone’s lunch, I spent the majority of the afternoon sifting through Paul’s hundreds of receipts.  I had already sorted them in date order and segregated by which credit card, but now they still needed to be taped to letter sized paper, logged in an excel spreadsheet, numbered, and scanned to the dropbox.  When I was done I had a stack of papers about two inches high and Paul said he was ready to review them all.  I hadn’t actually expected him to review them, so this was a pleasant surprise.  So far, Paul was the only regular in the office that seemed to have any common sense, respect, or knowledge of how to make a film, and now he would get a taste of how I worked.  My paperwork was perfect, my data immaculate, my attention to detail exceptional.  I already knew this, and now, so did Paul, Rebekah and Michael’s boss.  Maybe he would take a liking to me, maybe he wouldn’t give a shit.  I can’t even speculate, he’s a man of few words. 


The afternoon seemed to fly by.  Michael acted weirdly more talkative than usual about his personal life, and decided to tell me about his first job waiting tables, at a belly-dancing joint in Burlington Massachusetts, where the only way he could make money was to steal tips from the belly dancers.  He would follow them around while they gyrated and pick up the dollar bills falling from their belts, and tell them he’d give it to them at the end of the show… then rush into the bathroom and stuff the money down his pants.  He laughed while telling this story and I think he actually expected me to sympathize with this practice, because the men weren’t making any tips and the belly dancers were, which clearly wasn’t fair.  I outwardly empathized, and inwardly cursed him.  Do you have any idea how much training, energy, focus, sweat and tears it takes to belly-dance you fuck?  And how little money you make as a professional?  And you, an entitled little teenage cunt, had the audacity to steal from belly-dancers, because you think you deserved their tips???? FUCK YOU!!!


He went on to tell me about an emotionally-unstable PA he worked with once, that was nervous and crying and shaking, and how he so very gently exhausted all of his efforts to try to calm the poor kid and assure him, because he was such a sympathetic understanding guy apparently, but he quit anyway.  Wait, you mean you didn’t tell him to ‘be more enthusiastic’ and ‘smile more’?  Again, fuck you.  Your sad attempt at making yourself the hero in this situation contrasted sharply with blaring evidence to the contrary.  Then he moved on to when he was a ‘celebrity judge’ on America’s Next Top Model or some other reality show, and later decided to bitch about Robert, saying “There’s one weird one on every show, and he’s it.”  He then recanted an accountant he worked with named Sandy, that was deathly afraid of combination safes, and dropped random anecdotes from whatever other projects he professionally cunted on with union benefits.  I don’t know if he was trying to patch the divide he created earlier or just being himself.  Maybe he felt like we bonded over conflict, or maybe he was a nervous wreck.  Again, very hard to say.


Later on, I was talking to Robert about something random… lunch maybe, when he decided to confide in me. 

“Sometimes, I’ll yell at people, and it has nothing to do with them, it’s just me dealing with my stress, not their fault, so I have to work on that.  So if I yell at you, I don’t mean to.”

“Well, if you yell at me, I’ll be straight with you,” I told him.  “I’ll be like, ‘don’t fucking yell at me,’ and that will be the end of it.”  I laughed a little, but this was true, and however it sounded I was just being honest.

“Right!  And you should!  Because it actually helps me, because it’s wrong, and sometimes I need to be called on it, and that’s how I improve as a person.”  After a taste of this team I was genuinely surprised by Robert's honesty and candor.  I had to hand it to him, a glimpse of admiration began to surface for Robert.  Either he was rehearsing a very-well-rehearsed script, or he was expressing a genuine sentiment as an introspective human being; recognizing his faults and making an effort to overcome them.  I had to lean towards the latter, as much as Michael and Rebekah bitched about this guy, he actually seemed pretty ok at that moment, and I also started to understand his sense of anticipated defeat at making a simple request as to his stapling preferences, having been acquainted with Michael and Rebekah for a few minutes; neither of them gave a flying fuck about making anyone else’s lives easier, and Robert knew that immediately.

“By the way, if you ever have free time, when you’re not working on something, and want to jump in and help out, I know you have an accounting background, that would be great.  With permission, of course.”  From Rebekah and Michael, he meant.

“Oh, sure, I’d love to!”  I responded with a smile.  I was a little stunned by this and a small rush came over me.  Robert just sorta passively offered me a job.  Something to think about.


Towards the end of the day, I got an email for payroll setup and this is when Michael and Rebekah decided to drop another shit on me, which they both obviously had been aware of for an indeterminate amount of time.  “So, unfortunately, about your deal, we really tried but couldn’t get you a kit fee, Hagai said it wasn’t in the budget,” Rebekah offered up.  “But we were able to get you a cell allowance, it’s like sixty bucks a month.”


I tried to contain myself.  From day one, I’d been asked to bring a laptop.  I went above and beyond to bring a whole slew of badly-needed office supplies and a printer/scanner, which had been used a lot in the short time I’d been there.  But I also knew, sometimes, these things had a way of working out in the end, either way PA’s rarely get paid for kit fees, and I understand that, so that was somewhat expected.  “Well, that’s something.  And for purposes of this exercise, I don’t mind that much.”  I dismissed it as extravagant but I immediately hated myself for that confession.  It was true, I didn’t care about the fee, although it would be nice; the problem was, they knew they could fuck with me now.  I could either take it up the ass or quit, those were my options, and they were already trying to get me to quit.  They seemed to really enjoy grinding in the disrespect, nonchalance, and general disdain for my existence.  I wanted to assume that it was because both Rebekah and Michael were bright enough to figure out that I transcended them by stratospheres and ultimately threatened their jobs, but maybe it was because they were just awful, mean, rotten, shallow, paranoid jerks.


It was randomly interesting that they picked a moment after Paul had left to tell me this.  Maybe Paul might have contradicted them?  Again I can’t possibly speculate.  Probably not, after all, technically I was a PA, which is apparently short form for “Piss All-over”, although I would never display such blatant lack of respect for my PA’s.


By the end of this miserable day I couldn’t make a decision.  I felt like an A-list actor being cast as background, and told to stay away from the union crafty table, except that would have been easier to accept.  They were insolent brats who hated me, and would probably wait until Friday to fire me, because a new assistant coordinator, who probably sucked as badly as they did, would start on Monday to take up the slack.  They were keeping me as a failsafe so they wouldn’t have to empty the garbage themselves until some new pee-on was added to the payroll.  Should I stay or should I do us all a favor and quit?


I left around 7pm that night, and it was all I could do not to cry in the car.  I called Holly and we talked for almost two hours, and to her credit I felt a little better while we were talking, but as soon as we hung up I just wanted to cry again.  I talked to Jon for a while after that, and since my old band was able to lock in another bassist I decided to join him and his kids on a trip that weekend to Solvang, a weird little Danish settlement about 3 hours away.  As soon as we were off the phone, I just wanted to cry some more.


I decided to have a drink, then I realized, my period was due in the next day or two.  Perhaps this had something to do with my emotional state.  It might even start tomorrow, and this was a standard side effect; if there was nothing to be sad about, I was sad anyway this time of the month.  If there was something to be sad about, I was devastated.  Maybe it wasn’t as bad as it felt right now.


I made a mental list of pros and cons.  


I could continue with the daily blog, take my faithful readers on this journey with me, maybe give a little insight to someone considering a career in the film business of what they were in for.  A purely journalistic approach to an impossible, ridiculous shitshow, of which I could opt-out at any moment.  

I could also embark on the most atrocious acting role of my life, hopefully; to be ‘enthusiastic’ in the face of being shit on for 14 weeks solid.  If I could pull that off, as an actor, I’d be a pretty mind-boggling actor, right?   The problem with this scenario is that I tend to live acting roles, and might not recover fully.

If I did manage to stick this out, and recover, unscathed, it could be a turning point for me; a heightened sense of detachment for a greater good and evolving of my own personal strength.

There was still potential to make connections.  The wardrobe guy Roger was quiet but seemed direct and good at his gig, the art department was actually sweet as pie.  Paul and Hagai seemed okay, despite the shit that Rebekah blamed on them, the locations guy actually seemed to know his job well and was fairly laid back.  The only problem children in this scenario were two production morons that somehow got to the job post first, probably through a union-exclusive bulletin, because they were the first idiots out of work to respond; and had enough credits, albeit wobbly ones, that they weren’t interviewed sufficiently by anyone who gave a shit.



The job was sucking the very life out of me.  Michael and Rebekah were expecting to rape me of any professional pride and be subject to their miserable drama, and demanded explicitly that I smile and be more ’enthusiastic’ for this 14-week torture session.

My ‘bosses’ were two of the dumbest people I’d ever met, communication with them was pointless, and whatever went wrong in the future would likely be blamed on me.

There was still a possibility of making no connections, as they actively worked to shelter me from contact with anyone else.

I’ve been shit on most of my life, and recently bucked this behavior, well into my 30s.  I did not want to welcome this kind of contact in my life again for any reason, least of all a paycheck.  I’m way too old for this juvenile bullshit.


I had two questions.  A) could I continue?  And B) should I continue?  After a couple tequila sunrises - hold the grenadine - I was no closer to the answers than my dripping mental state at 9am, limping defeated to the parking lot to undo the vandalism to the work I’d done the day before.  I decided to wait one more day, and see if I was fired by the end of it.  The universe has a way of answering questions like this if I wait long enough.  

Friday, August 2 - PREP DAY 5 - TGIF

Friday I arrived at the office at 8:45.  Robert was wearing a polo with black and white horizontal stripes that looked like a optical illusion, it legitimately hurt my eyes to look at.  Michael was quiet.  The office was pretty chill, and it appeared Michael and Rebekah had forgotten to take their adderall this morning.  They were actually calm and civil to me at the moment, so I sat waiting for the guillotine to drop, and really not giving a shit.  I played out the conversation in my head…. Michael telling me that Rebekah was firing me, and me responding with a laugh to say I just won a $50 bet.  


For whatever reason, a white Mercedes took Rebekah’s spot that morning.  I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself - literally no other reserved spot was taken, only Rebekah’s, and if she’d left the fucking signs where they were then it wouldn't have been an issue.


Rebekah talked to Michael for a while about the screening from the night before - apparently it was a film called ‘Luce’ about xenophobia or some shit.  I tuned her out for the most part but bits and pieces poked through.  “It’s really about racism…” … “… an amazing film….” … “… opening in sixteen cities in a couple weeks…” Since the conversation wasn’t directed at me, and wasn’t work-related, I didn’t feel ‘enthusiastic’ about paying attention, and yesterday’s infuriating speech was still ringing in my ears.  Around 10am, Paul showed up and landed immediately in front of Rebekah’s desk, and she promptly shut the fuck up.


Eventually Michael had something to say to me.  “So, is the voicemail done?”

“What do you mean?”  I needed to clarify.  Yesterday I was ready to do it when the speech happened, and afterward nobody mentioned it.  “I haven’t done it yet?”

“Yeah, Rebekah wants that to be done today.”

“Okay, I can do it right now.”

“Okay, great, so, yeah, lets do that, let’s get that done.”

“I just have a really simple script.”

“That’s fine, I’m sure whatever you wrote is, totally fine, yeah.”

I recorded the outgoing message thinking A) they must have decided not to fire me if they wanted my voice on the voicemail or B) they didn’t care who’s voice was on the voicemail, and they would likely fire me anyway.  Aside from extreme cases, firings are typically reserved for the end of the day on Friday, so I would know in a few hours.


I had my first exchange today with the costumer, Roger.  Roger was around 52 or so, average build, in good shape, sporting bleached blonde hair with greying temples and dark eyes.  He had an unassuming kind of demeanor and shook my hand warmly to introduce himself.  

“I don’t know if we met before, and what’s your title?”  His tone was neutral, question direct.

“I’m Loa, Office PA, nice to meet you.”  Your basic polite chit-chatty exchange, but he had a genuineness about him that was refreshing.  Later on he was near my desk when he asked Michael if the copier was color.

“Um, no, it’s black and white.”  Michael spoke quietly, and seem to shrink as he made this admission.

I piped up.  “This printer is color, if you need something, it’s not great for a lot of volume, but if you have some one-offs I can handle that for you.”

He looked at me, grateful for the offer (it was the only color printer in the office) but not sure if he should take me up on it.  “Is this, yours though?”

“Yeah, it’s my personal printer, but production will cover the ink.”  I smiled, pleasantly surprised that he actually gave a shit.  “Do you have a lot of pages to print?”

“No, it’s just a few pages, just one copy.  That would be great.  Should I send them to you?”

“Sure.”  I printed out his pages and he was legitimately thankful.  “This is a great start, thank you for that!”  A simple expression of appreciation for my work, and suddenly everything was okay.  I didn’t mind smiling when there was something to smile about, or even for some interaction with just one person, with any sense of consideration or integrity or that treated me like a human; this just might have been the first time I’d experienced it on this job.


I ordered lunch from an Italian place but could only eat a few bites of it.  There was a knot in my stomach and I really wished I was somewhere else.  Anywhere.  A refugee camp would have been fine.  After lunch I approached Michael.  

“So, I’m thinking, I’m not sure how much more I have to work on this afternoon?”

“So, we need to check on the crafty, and I might need you to go to Target, and I want to set up that other office, and try to steal some chairs from that other production office that’s leaving today…”  Michael was desperately dreaming up things for me to do.

“I think we are good for crafty for the moment, but I can make a run if I need to.  The other office is locked right?”  A pause as he awkwardly nodded.  “Is there anything else for me this afternoon or is that kind of it?”  A pause as Michael tried to dream up some busywork for me.  “So, the reason I’m asking, is Robert asked me yesterday, if I ever didn’t have anything to do, if I could jump in to help him out a little, if it was okay with you guys.”  Because I wasn’t trying to leave early, although that would be great, because I was legitimately interested in helping someone else in the office rather than doing fucking nothing.

Michael leaned in close and began a half-whisper as if he were telling me a life-changing secret.  “I’m hesitant to do that, because what happens is, accounting will turn you into an accounting clerk, and when things get crazy we’re not going to be able to spare you, so I don’t want him to put you on anything because yeah, if you give an inch, you know?  They take, they take, well they want you to do a whole bunch more work.  So, yeah, I’m hesitant to do that.”  He drew is eyebrows down low and peered from beneath them, his face twisted into some combination of a frown and scowl.  A frowl.

Maybe he had a point, I can’t say I could determine that yet, but Robert had an assistant starting Monday.  “Okay, well, I thought he might need a hand, you know, just until Christine starts Monday.”

“Yeah, I just, don’t want to do that.  Cuz they will try to steal you.”  It felt more like, if Michael was sharing a jail cell with Robert, and Michael got two sandwiches, and Robert didn’t get any and was starving to death, Michael would fiercely protect his sandwich until it rotted rather than let Robert take a bite to save his life.  This seemed to be less about self-preservation and more about saying ‘fuck you’ to Robert than anything else, but who knows?  Maybe he’s right and I just don’t understand the dynamic yet. 

I nodded in understanding.  “I totally get it, okay, just wanted to check with you.”  Whatever.


Michael then decided to go over “the crafty situation,” and Rebekah threw in her two cents.  “Just, healthy snacks would be nice.  Like, almonds or nuts or something.”

I didn’t bother to point out that almonds are nuts.  “Well, there are some mixed nuts in there, and apples, oranges and bananas, bagels, organic protein bars…” I started listing off the stockpile.  Rebekah struck me as the kind of person that would always ask for healthy food, but only ever noticed the chocolate and chips because that’s what she really wanted.

“I just mean, like, some hummus, celery, carrots….”

“Oh, a veggie platter?  I could do that.”

“Well, I mean, it should be organic though, and we can cut it up here.”

“Okay, that’s great, it will keep longer.  Do you want me to pick up a knife and cutting board?”  They had already discussed how a knife and cutting board were not in the budget.

“I’ll bring one from home.”  I’ll be pleasantly surprised if she remembers that come Monday.

“Okay, and then I can pick that stuff up Monday morning?”

“Yeah that would be great.”

Michael decided to chime in.  “And we need some garbage bags.” 

Right.  With the current stock of garbage bags we are scheduled to run out in two months or so, or right after shooting ends…. better jump right on that.  “Okay.”

“And I just want to check all the crafty levels and see what we need to restock.”

“I looked at it earlier, so far we are pretty okay for stock, for another week or so I think.  Except bananas, which I think it’s better to get Monday.”

“Okay, and I just want to make sure there is plenty of Coke and Diet Coke.”

“Yeah we are good for those.”

“So maybe today you can do a run, and just get all the, you know, non-perishable stuff, then Monday morning you can get fruit, and vegetables and hummus and stuff.”  

All the non-perishable stuff consisted of garbage bags, and, um, well, I guess just garbage bags.  “Sure.”


The conversation ended with being issued another $300 in petty cash and instructed to go to Target.  It was around three in the afternoon, and I couldn’t help but think they could have just sent me home early, because there was nothing that we really needed at the moment, and they were sending me shopping Monday morning anyway, but they wanted to make something up for me to do instead.  I wandered around Target for about an hour, chatted with Holly on the phone, had an espresso, decided to buy a shirt, really not giving two shits how long this errand would take and still half-expecting to be fired in the next couple of hours.  It would be worse to go back to the office and sit there with nothing to do the rest of the afternoon, but even if they fired me at the end of day they never let me go home early, if for no other reason than to add insult to injury.


I picked up some plastic cups, a couple of light bulbs for an office lamp, some random crafty… dried fruit, more nuts, mints, chewing gum.  The whole errand took me about an hour and a half, and when I got back to the office I spent another half-hour putting it all away.  After that I started combing back through Paul’s receipts, which he’d left for me with his notes about which were production reimbursements and which were personal, which he also wanted logged separately.  Rebekah and Michael left me alone most of the afternoon, which was nice.  There hadn’t been any more ‘you’re-fired’ hints but I couldn’t help feeling like it was the calm before the storm, like Monday morning all hell might break loose and I’d be back on the chopping block.  By now, I’d decided that this job was only important if nothing else came up, so I would be taking the first PMing or coordinating job that came along and graciously bowing out.  Whether they needed me or not they would likely lambaste me for it, but so far the only thing I was learning here is how to kiss ass a little harder, and that was a hard pass.


Rebekah left early, Michael and I left around 6pm.  When we got to the parking lot something came over me, and I pointed out, “Oh, look, there’s shade on both sides of the trees.”  Yeah, I said it, and yes it was unnecessary, and yes it was a semi-subtle ‘fuck you’ to Rebekah’s shit.  Literally every parking spot was shaded at that moment.  Michael looked at the spots, got a weird look on his face and didn’t respond, just got in his car and drove away.


After work I went to the gym and guess what, my period started.  This was a likely explanation for my emotional state yesterday, or a factor anyway.  That just made me more pissed off… of all the stupid ways to treat me, threatening to fire me over a glance or a slight indication of disappointment and demanding that I smile and act happier was already ridiculous, but factor in that it was while my hormonal balance was fucked up for a few hours that month and it was so much worse.  I didn’t want to think about it, I had a whole weekend to think about anything else that I wanted, so I’d better use it. 


Dressing at the gym I couldn’t help but notice the bruises on my arms and legs from moving office furniture around.  I’m a pretty strong person, muscular for a girl, but moving furniture without getting bruised up takes a little more finesse than I apparently command.  Meh, doesn’t matter, that shit will heal.  I spent an hour on a stairstepper watching the season finale of “The Affair”.  Season 1 is basically a dude fucking around on his wife with a married chick.  Season 2 the dude divorces his wife, the chick divorces her husband, and the two of them get married, he writes a book about fucking around, makes some money, and the new wife fucks around with her ex-husband and gets pregnant.  Season 3 the dude goes to jail for something he didn’t do, valiantly to protect both wives in a way, then goes nutso, pulls out of it, divorces wife #2 and somehow becomes a professor at some Ivy-league university.  Season 4 everybody moves to Los Angeles (probably because the executives garnered enough traction to re-locate so they wouldn’t have to travel to remote locations six months a year), the dude starts teaching at some ghetto high school, ex-wife #2 dies tragically and he rekindles the relationship with his first wife, who is practically married to another dude now, who also conveniently dies tragically at the same time, but not without knocking up the next-door neighbor first.  So basically they are back where they started, only now they’re in LA, and they’ve both had other relationships that cheated on them and produced children with someone else.  Kind of anti-climactic but Maura Tierney is pretty awesome.   She’s one of my heroes, from Newsradio and Liar Liar days.  The production value is great, the acting is fantastic, the script is not bad, but the story line just feels kind of stagnant.  It started out well but feels like your basic high-end soap opera now.


I stretched for about a half hour after that, trying to wring out a charlie horse in my thigh… it’s a knot the size of a walnut that’s been there for about a month and won’t go away.  I was unsuccessful but always feel like I make a little progress.  Weighed in at a cool 149, apparently I lost three pounds this week.  Went home, took a long hot shower and headed to Jon’s place around 10pm.


Jon wanted to get away this weekend with his kids since they are both headed back to college in a couple of weeks, so we drove up to Solvang Saturday morning and spent the day there.  It was nice to be out of town, but the heat was oppressive and the drive was brutal.  I love Jon but he rides the brake hard and I already have a weak stomach and get motion sickness easily, so for me it was miserable.  I killed a bottle of wine Saturday night and a couple Bloody Mary’s Sunday morning, and by the afternoon I was sleepy and bloated, not at all looking forward to the drive back or returning to the office Monday.  


Sunday night I managed to get my laundry done and spend some time writing, and felt better after that.  One week down, thirteen to go.


Monday, August 5 - PREP DAY 6 - TGIF

The office was quiet again this morning, I had very little to do.  A new production had moved in and taken over an adjoining parking lot, which was now crammed with porta-potties, trucks, talent trailers and lunchboxes, but nobody working there - it was pre-staging for a shoot coming up this week.  Otherwise the building was pretty chill.


The accounting assistant, Christine, didn’t start today after all - she is scheduled to start next week, always was.  Robert mentioned that he told Michael that, but Michael didn’t listen (“because some people just don’t listen…”).  Eric, the assistant coordinator, started today.  I guessed him at 31, dark hair, average everything, khakis and a nondescript button-down shirt.  He seemed alright, we were introduced but didn’t talk much.  


Around 9:30am, Michael addressed me.  “Ok, so we should have our meeting now.”  Umm, what meeting?  Is it time for another pre-firing speech?  I asked myself.  I didn’t know what he was talking about.  “Let’s use this office.”  When Eric followed him with a pad and pen it dawned on me, that he wanted to hold a production meeting.  Ah-haaah, yes of course.  There were three meetings listed on today’s schedule, this wasn’t one of them and nobody mentioned to me, but I guess I was just supposed to know about it anyway.

“Okay, so I have three deliveries today, one from Staples and two from Amazon.”  He began.  “So we need to keep an eye on those deliveries, so we make sure they arrive.”  Fair enough.  “It’s about $50 worth of labels and some binders.”  Okay, nobody cares.  Michael’s obsession with and pride about ordering office supplies was truly baffling.  “And I just want to make sure that when we change the toner, I know about it so I can order more toner, so we don’t run out of toner.”  I started taking notes, not because I gave a shit about anything so far, but so that I could recap all this menial crap later, and I happened to have a notepad and pen, and needed to look interested anyway.  “Eric, I want you to take over the production runs, and I want to make sure we are checking the mail, there’s a bin downstairs for us but sometimes deliveries will just get dropped there and so I want to make sure we are checking the bin, to make sure, that doesn’t happen… I haven’t had problems with anyone taking mail, but there have been times when our mail got dropped into someone else’s bin and lost for a while.  I don’t think we need to start a package log, because we get so few packages, but I’ve worked on productions that had so many packages, that we needed a package log.  Just, you know, what came in, who signed for it, because we had so many packages that they were getting lost, but I don’t think we need that yet, I’m hoping we don’t have to start a package log.” it was really hard to stay at rapt attention for this list of shit we didn’t need to worry about, but I gave it a college try.  “Eric, I want you to work on the vendor list, and the purchase orders, because it’s going to be a book.  We’ll make a, PO book, so all the PO’s, are, in a book.   And Paul has a meeting with props at 10am, and a budget meeting at 11am.  Also, our dumpster is gone.”

This was a surprise.  “It’s, missing?”  I asked him.  

Michael’s eyes were wide, with an incredulous half-smile on his face, as if he’d just told us the President was abducted.  “Yeah, we went down there this morning, and it was just, gone.”  Ok, who makes a trip to the basement to check if the dumpster delivered Friday is still there on Monday?  Michael I guess.  “So, we need to find out who took it, because the disposal company will charge us to empty it, and we only want them to charge us when we actually fill it up and then make the request that it be emptied.”  He went on to bloviate about the contract with Waste Management that he had brilliantly negotiated to this effect.  “Otherwise we are paying for other people’s trash to be emptied, and we don’t have the budget.  So maybe you can go to that production, the one in the parking lot, and find out if they took it.  Because if they took it, they need to bring it back, and use their own dumpster.  The locations company requires that everybody have their own dumpster, so they should have their own, and they can bring ours back, so if you could check on that, before they fill it up, that’d be great.  Cuz we’re not gonna pay for emptying the trash, when it’s, not our trash.  It’s not in the budget.”  He reminded me of the boss character in Office Space, passively aggressively conning his staff into working weekends for free, like it was their idea.  ‘I’m gonna need you to go ahead and come in on Sunday, yeeeeaah, that’d be greaaaat.’

Just before wrapping up, Michael had to tie up his little prick package with an annoying bow, he addressed me.  “Also, just watch the vaping, in the hallways, because Mark said no vaping, and if you’re in the hallways he can see you on the security cameras.”  I nodded in agreement.


So, I had a task; track down the dumpster.  I went downstairs and stopped in to chat with Mark on the way.

I tap-tap-tapped on his office door and poked my head in with a smile.  “Good morning!”

He seemed pleasantly surprised to see me, and a look of minor relief crossed his features… I wondered who he was expecting that he didn’t want to hear from.  “Oh, it’s you.  Good morning Loa.”

Aw, he remembered my name.  “How was your weekend?”

Obviously that was the wrong question.  Mark’s eyes went dark and his voice took on a tone that was defeated.  “It was… not so great, actually.”  He said it with the grave rasp of someone who had just discovered he had stage 4 cancer, or that his wife was having an affair, or that his parents were just tragically murdered, and was an eggshell’s thickness from breaking down in tears.  His pain was palpable.

“Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that.  That sucks.”  A pause while we both didn’t say anything.  “Anything I can do?”

“No, but thanks for asking.  You getting out of the office?  Here, have a seat.”

“Oh, well, yeah, I guess the dumpster has been absconded with so Michael sent me to go find out where it’s at.”

Mark’s disgust emerged, compounded by already having a shit day at 10am.  “It doesn’t matter, what the fuck dumpster, you use to — oh for fuck’s sake.”  

“Well, he’s saying that he doesn’t want to get charged for it getting emptied if someone else is using it, is all.”

“He’s going to get charged, for emptying once a week, no matter what.  Because that’s what everybody pays for, one empty a week.”

“Right, well that was my thoughts… fortunately there’s eleven empty dumpsters right next to it.”  I laughed a little and Mark agreed.

“Exactly!  Which dumpster you use doesn’t matter, everybody gets charged for emptying the dumpsters, once a week.  We can’t, we can’t—MONITOR the dumpsters, and who’s putting trash in which one….”

“Michael is saying that they only empty ours if we call and ask them to.”

“No, Michael’s wrong.  Oh, fuck, Michael, he’s been here for, two years, he knows this.  You know why you don’t get charged only when you call?  Because you’d never call.  Companies would get cheap about it and just never call to empty the dumpster.  Waste Management charges everybody the same thing, once a week.  Just tell him that.”

He made a very good point.  “Well, he doesn’t listen to me.”  I started laughing again.  A pause while Mark rolled his eyes, but he knew it was true.  “So I wonder what happened to the dumpster?”

“I know where the dumpster is…” He was tired of this conversation before it started.  “The gardeners just picked the first one, and yours was the closest, and they dragged it to the other end of the lot because they’re doing some trimming down there, that’s all.”

Ah, this made sense.  To ask the poor gardeners to wheel ours back and pick a different one and wheel it all the way across the property would be really stupid and mean, and I had no intention of even hinting such a request; although I wouldn’t doubt that Michael would instruct them to do exactly that.

“I’ll, tell you what, I’ll come up and talk to Michael.”  He was weary of many things at this moment, and Michael was just one more nagging annoyance on his list.

“Okay.  Well, when you come up, we have chocolate.”  I smiled at him sadly, an attempt to cheer him up.  It worked.

“What kind of chocolate?”

“Well, we have Snickers, and Milky Way, and, um… dark chocolate peanut butter cups…”

“You had me at Snickers.  I’ll be up in a bit.”

“Thanks Mark.  Sorry your weekend sucked.”

He shrugged as if to say, ‘it is what it is,’ and I hated the idea of presenting another annoyance to him.


I headed back up to the office where Michael looked at me, wide-eyed again.  “What did they say?”

“Well, I talked to Mark, and he said he’s going to come talk to you.”

Silence as he looked at me, waiting for a punchline, as if there were anything else to say.  Then, with his face turned to a scowl, “He’s in a mood this morning,” as if Mark were the one annoying him.  Perhaps reverse-reality is a thing.

“He’s had kind of a rough weekend I think.”

“Yeah, he is going through something, and I know what it is, and it’s, well, it’s, life-altering.”  How dare you, you fucking asshole.  First insinuate that Mark is prone to mood swings, then instantly admit that the poor guy is suffering from some life-changing trauma?  I don’t know why my tolerance for Michael was nose-diving so hard, but he was honestly just, such, a fucking, shit.

“It’s hard.”  I turned back to my desk as Michael nodded with feigned sympathy.


I wrapped up Paul’s receipts, which took about twenty minutes, made some little flyers to attach to cars taking the reserved parking spaces, then twiddled my thumbs for an hour.  Ordered lunch, picked it up, and with nothing else to do decided to read the script.  It was a hard read.  Really hard.  The characters were shallow, the plot one-sided, with lots of senseless killing and random acts of violence.  I found spelling and continuity errors right away and overall it just really didn’t make sense.  


There are two major character sets.  The first is a lavishly-rich but fucked-up family; the father designs and sells one model of red women’s shoes; the mother feeling dissatisfied has an affair with their head of security and attempts to steal a bunch of gold bars and elope with him to Fiji in a private jet.  The daughter is a hopeless alcoholic, drug addict and social media influencer.  The ad campaigns for the shoes are largely VFX depictions of people getting killed brutally while wearing the shoes - but the twist is, they’re not VFX depictions, they actually kill people under hypnosis to make shock-value ads, because they like killing people.  When the mother’s heist goes south, she starts creatively killing people herself, per the counsel of her split personality talking to her through a mirror.  Nobody gets caught, despite the regular practice of releasing global ads starring now-missing persons never to be seen again; and the three of them are batshit crazy.


The second character set is a gang of modern-day hoodlum girls who plan elaborate heists to feed themselves, and otherwise hang out scantily clad in an abandoned warehouse.  Nothing interesting here, except that they also randomly kill people for sport, sometimes with machetes, sometimes bow and arrow, sometimes in a cage fight, usually hopped up on speed.  Again nobody gets caught, nobody even gets suspected, again no law enforcement is spotted at any point.  The daughter is friends with them and otherwise there isn’t much crossover.  Eventually she discovers that the hoodlums unknowingly hi-jacked the gold and dumped it, so she kills her parents, fakes her own death, steals the gold, wills the shoe company to the hoodlums, and takes off to Fiji in the private jet herself, which she has somehow been trained to fly despite her wild-child lifestyle.  The actual VFX might be the most engaging part of production, cuz some of the shots are gonna be fucking tricky.  


Later Mark came up and explained the Waste Management arrangement to Michael.  Michaels response after Mark left was “I’m not totally remembering but come to think of it, maybe I did pay it every week last time.”


The first AD, Charity started today.  Charity is around 45, 5’7”, average build, long straight hair down her back with colorful but subtle streaks of bright pink, bleach blonde, dark chocolate, mixed into highlighted medium brown.  Misfitting jeans and plain black tanktop showed off the solid sleeve tattoo on her left arm, random ink on the right.  This is a sign of A) a former heroin problem, or B) the trendy sleeve tattoo as IF you had a former heroin problem; with kind of a hippie vibe contrasted by the $500 hairdo.  She seemed alright, nice disposition, pretty blue eyes and quiet for the most part, but I couldn’t help but think there was just, something missing.  I feel like I jump to this conclusion more often than not these days, it’s practically a reflex.  Maybe I was jumping the gun.

Late in the day she and Rebekah were talking about script changes.  “I have a copy, but it’s read-only,” she told the office.

Rebekah apparently didn’t have the updated script yet.  “Can you send it to me?”

“I can’t do anything with it, I can open it, but that’s all, it’s ‘read-only’”.  A pause while she tried to work with the file.  “I can’t even save it.”

I have to interject here.  If you don’t pay for Final Draft, which is the industry-standard script-writing software, you can still open Final Draft documents, aka scripts, but you can’t manipulate them.  It’s obvious to see what’s going on here but I didn’t say anything.

“Well can you make a pdf?”  

“No, it won’t let me, it’s ‘read-only.’”  Rebekah and Charity were clearly not understanding each other.

“Can you put it in the dropbox?”

“It’s like, it won’t let me do anything.”  This went on for a few minutes, and listening to this exchange was mildly amusing.

Finally Rebekah asked if she had the file in email, and could she just forward the email to her?  That seemed to do the trick.  A few minutes later, Charity casually mentioned with a chuckle, “Yeah, I am trying not to purchase Final Draft anymore.”  As if, problems like these led her to stop paying for her subscription, as opposed to the other way around.

A lightbulb went off for Rebekah.  “Oh, that’s why it’s read-only, you probably have a trial version or something.”  Ding!


Later on Charity was chatting with Roger, the two of them discovered they worked on another movie together years before.  After a little nostalgia she mentioned, “Wow, that was before there was a child in my life, and he’s… 15 now!”

Roger nodded in agreement with a smug smile.  “We’ve been doing this, a long time.”  

“And still don’t know how to use Final Draft,” I added to myself.


Sometime in the afternoon Charity asked for a calendar.  “It would be nice to have, a dry-erase one, you know, without the numbers filled in, so we can track where we are at which locations.”  

“Sure, if you find the one you want, and let us know, we can get it ordered for you.”

“Or I could go to Staples.  I actually love going to Staples.”  She laughed a little bit.  “It’s like my favorite thing.”

I smiled at her.  “For me it’s Home Depot, I could wander around in there for days!”  We laughed together.

“Oh, no, not Home Depot.”  Michael rolled his eyes.


At Michael’s request, I started my end-of-day rounds around 5pm.  “Because we might be able to get out of here early…” I emptied the trash, dumped the coffee, set up a new pot to brew in the morning, and, um, that’s it.  When I came into Robert’s office for the trash, I struck up a conversation.

“So, just to let you know, I, asked Michael about if, when I was free if I could help you out, and he kind of said, flat, no.”

Robert looked up, his tired eyes disappointed but not surprised.  He shrugged a little, but there was a weariness and grim defeat in his expression.

“He said that, he didn’t want me, to have too much responsibility on your projects, or something, and you not be able to spare me, when he needs me.”

“It figures.”

I couldn’t possibly tell him that I’d been sitting at my desk all fucking day with nothing to do.  “I’m sorry.”

“Well, thank you for asking, and thank you for telling me that.”


I started working on Beau’s class schedule and dicking around on Facebook, half-expecting them to ask me to do something, and half-expecting them to tell me to go home.  Neither of these events took place.  Eventually, I decided that the fastest way to get them to send me home was to actually look engaged or busy, so I started writing.  Around six, about twenty minutes in, Michael approached me.  

“So, you’re done, with all your stuff?”

I laughed a little.  “Yeah, I have been, for, several hours now.”

“Okay, so you’re just working on your own stuff?”

“I’m free if you need me for something.”

“No, that’s fine, I just want to make sure, trash is out?”

“Yep.”  You watched me take it out you fuck.

“And coffee?”

“All set and ready to brew.”

“Okay, great, just sit tight for now then.  I just, reaaaally have to send, this, thing…” he trailed off as he walked away.  He had something that he needed to do, that I was not involved in, that I couldn’t help with, so I needed to stay?  Really?


Really.  Everyone else had left, I resumed writing as Michael spoke in hushed tones with Eric.  Kind of weird since by that point it was only the three of us in the office, the only person he had to shield this conversation with was me, but again, whatever.

“Oh, just to let you know….” Michael mentioned at some point.  “Robert is asking me again if he can use you, and I’m really hesitant, but maybe, for like, you know, 45 minutes, we can try, for like, 45 minutes.”  He laughed as if he were venturing out on paper thin ice that was rigged to crack, and I laughed as if he were venturing out on ice ten feet thick, and was deathly afraid of it cracking.

At 7:05 Michael finally told me to pack it up, the insufferable prick.  I’d been sitting there for hours doing nothing, he wouldn’t let me help Robert and and he still wouldn’t let me leave until after seven.  But, it wasn’t a complete loss because A) I got some writing done, and B) I was only going to the gym anyway, and there was no point in going before seven, it was too crowded.  If I had two hours to write at the end of every day, that would be perfect.


After 65 minutes on the stairstepper and stretching for a while I got home around 9:30.  Jon had texted, I left him a message 10 minutes later, and he tried calling back two hours after that.  I missed the call and left another message 10 minutes later and that was the end of our communication for the night.  No surprises there, he wasn’t big on phone time.  


Beau called around 10:30 and we chatted for a while.  He is trying to figure out his classes coming up and might decide to just take one class next semester, since his Pell Grant is running low for the AA anyway, and he only needs a couple more classes to transfer to CSUN.  He also is getting married in December and wants to dye his hair black, no doubt as part of an elaborate halloween costume.  We had a good chat and that was a high point of my day.  Hopefully, if he’s only taking one class over the fall, I can get him on the payroll as a PA at some point.  That would be a nice perk.


I’m tired, I’m sweaty, I’m hungry, it’s close to midnight.  The house is stuffy and hot, and I am just now starting to relax for a minute.  I had a few cheese slices and flipped through HBO archives until I landed on A Fish Called Wanda, and fell asleep to Kevin Kline being deliciously obnoxious whilst John Cleese babbled in Russian and Michael Malin brilliantly st-st-stuttered his way to victory.  More to come.


Tuesday, August 6 - PREP DAY 7 - TGIF

I started the day at Ralph’s, picked up Coke, Diet Coke, a case of water and a bag of ice.  The water was not really for the office, because there was a water dispenser in the office, but it was for a “just in case” someone needed water to take on a scout or something.  Michael was insistent on me picking it up and reminded me about five times that it would stored under his desk, not in the kitchen.  I had set the case of water on a desk near Michael and around 9:15 he breezed past my desk.  “Yeah, this needs to go, under my desk, so if you could just, store it there, under my desk, yeah.”

“Gotcha.”  Of course, you could do it yourself, since it’s right next to your desk.  Or, whatever, I could paw around underneath your desk after you get up I guess.  Jackass.


About a half hour later, still with nothing to do, I popped out my little vape and took a tiny puff at my desk.  Michael immediately chastised me.

“Loa!  The vape!”  He admonished with a scowl like I was a punk kid considering setting the building on fire.  I looked at him surprised.  “Mark said no vaping!”

“Oh, I thought you said to watch out in the hallways, because he would catch me on the cameras.”

“No!”  He whisper-yelled at me.  “Mark said ‘nowhere in the building!’  Put it away!”  He had to be pissed at me for something in order to feel good about himself I guess.

“No problem, it’s gone.”  I tucked the vape in my purse with a smile.  “Not a big deal.”  He turned away with a huff as if he couldn’t believe my blatant disrespect.  hahah.  As if he couldn’t fathom my disrespect.

The truth about the vape?  Nobody cares, including Mark.  There’s no smell, no cloud, I once vaped in an office for a year and half before anyone noticed.  Also, this clearly wasn’t about Mark, because Mark wasn’t here.  What he’d told me yesterday is “not to get caught” vaping.  Today he was just being a dick.


Charity hadn’t made it to Staples the day before, so I began poking around online to see if I could find the calendar she wanted.  I sent her a link for a marker board calendar and she responded out loud, “That’s perfect!”

“Okay, do you want us to get one ordered for you?”  I asked her.

“Yes, that would be great!”

I forwarded the link to Michael with a quickie request on Charity’s behalf, and about 30 seconds later he stood up, picked up a cardboard box from a pile of supplies and delivered it to Charity’s desk, which was about ten feet away.  “Here ya go.”

Charity was delighted.  “Oh, great!  You already have one!”  Of course you do.  The mystery remains why you didn’t just fucking say that yesterday, when we were all talking about it.

“Yeah, just, talk to me, if you need anything, any office supplies or anything like that, come to me or Eric, we handle the office supplies, and ordering and stuff.”  He addressed Charity and shot me a shitty glance, then resumed whatever duties he had to keep super-secret from me, the pitiful PA who should not be anywhere near relaying messages about office supply ordering.  He was really going out of his way to be an ass today, although he didn’t have to venture far.


Michael told me to add Mark to the lunch order, so I included him on the distribution.  Paul and Hagai wouldn’t be there, Michael told me, because they were on a scout.  Nobody knew if Roger was coming in.  I sent out the list to him anyway in case he was joining us for lunch.  About ten minutes later, I saw someone who looked suspiciously like Hagai walk in talking to Michael and duck into the accounting office at the other end of the office.  Michael cruised past my desk and I asked him, “Was that Hagai?”

“Oh!  I guess it was!”  Michael looked genuinely surprised.  “That’s weird!  I didn’t even think about it!  So weird!”  He was laughing a little at himself.  He had literally told me ten minutes before that Hagai wouldn’t be in, and then omitted the tiny detail that he was here after all.  Was he setting me up to get lunch for everyone in the office except the producer, to make me look bad?  Or was he legitimately that far out of touch?  Hard to say, but Michael strikes me as someone who says things and instantly forgets what he just said.  Clearly nobody had actually asked Hagai, who decided to skip the location scout.

Hagai came walking by and I asked him, “Are you staying for lunch?”

“Well, I’m here now, and I’m staying all day, so yeah I guess I’ll be here for lunch.”  I had to chuckle a little at this answer, it was like he was talking himself through the logic.  

“I’ll send you a menu.”


Around 11, when I had everyone's order’s but Mark’s, I texted him but didn’t get a response.  After a few minutes I tried calling him, but he didn’t answer.  Michael had told me that Mark confirmed getting the menu and mentioned he would love lunch so when he didn’t answer I went to find him on Michael’s request.  I found him in the lobby chatting with a middle aged guy, salt-and-pepper hair thinning around his forehead, light blue eyes and a general unassuming kind of relaxed-in-charge demeanor about him.  I instantly liked the guy.

“Oh, it’s you, yeah, I just hung up on you.”  Mark was looking unapologetically guilty as I laughed.

“You hung up on me?  You’re like, ‘whatever… I don’t have time for this chick…’?”  I was laughing at him, and myself.

“I know you want my lunch order, I didn’t even look at the menu, is there, like, a good burger on there?”

“Well, it’s more of a sandwich and salad place,”  I told him.  “But, I wasn’t sure if, you wanted to get lunch with us—“

“Yeah, I want to get lunch with you guys, that sounds great.”

“Well I didn’t know if you were gonna grab catering with another production, or something.”  The other guy watched our playful exchange and I could tell he was soaking all this in.

“Oh, shit, actually, I was going to get catering, I actually forgot all about that.”  

I started laughing again.  “Okay then.”  Then I didn’t leave, I just kind of stood there for a minute. 

“Don’t you have to get back to work?”

My tone switched to the frustration I was feeling at that moment, but I kept smiling.  “I have a whole lot of nothing to do.”  I told him dryly.  “They have me doing, absolutely nothing.  It’s like, prison!  I might as well be in a fucking cage, it’s driving me nuts.  Give me something, don’t care what!  But they literally kept me here until 7pm last night with nothing to do.  I’m writing a book! It’s that bad!”

Mark laughed at me.  “Well it could be worse.”

The other guy excused himself.  “I’ll see you later on, good talking with you.”

Mark waved him away and I repositioned myself a little closer and leaned in, nearly at a whisper.  “Hey, if you know any other companies, that could use some production help, could you, put in a good word for me?”

“Sure, if I hear of anything.  Actually the guy that was just here, that’s a good guy to talk to.”

My ears perked up.  “Really?”

“Yeah, he’s in the suite right next to you guys.  The mimimi-milim- whatever it is.  And he’s the top guy.”

“Okay, good to know.  What’s his name?”

“Umm, it’s… Kent.  You should go talk to him.”

“Alright, Kent.  That’s great.  I’ll, find, an opportune moment.”  I smiled.  This was good.  This was a good start.  


I headed back upstairs and put in the lunch order, dicked around for ten minutes, then headed out the door.  As I was exited the building Kent happened to be approaching at that exact moment.  The timing was divine, I couldn’t have planned it better.  I headed towards him.  

“Sorry, we didn’t get introduced earlier, you’re Kent?”

“Yeah, and you are?”

“I’m Loa.  I was talking to Mark, kind of looking to shift from my current company, and he mentioned you might be a good person to talk to about production work.”

Kent was instantly receptive, which I didn’t expect.  I expected the standard brush-off, ‘sure, email me your resume, we’ll see if there’s anything coming up’ line.  Instead, he looked at me with genuine interest.  “What is it that you’re looking for?”

“Well, I have a strong background in production managing and coordinating, but on the commercial side.  I really want to get into longer-form content, so I started working on a feature, as an office PA, because I know there’s a lot of crossover but there’s a lot in features that I don’t have to deal with in commercials, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to learn those ropes.  But I feel, very, under-utilized in that role, I really want to be more involved with the production end of it.”

His interest seemed to be piqued at this point.  “Yeah, you don’t need to be a PA,” he told me, and I could see the wheels turning in his head.  Something inside said ‘THANK YOU’ for recognizing that, and a rush of quiet relief swept over me.  Kent was a perceptive guy, he knew making me a PA was a complete waste of my skillset.  “Why don’t you come by my office a little later, and we’ll talk?”

I gave him a big involuntary smile.  “That would be great.  You’re in 201?”

"Yeah, just drop by sometime this afternoon.”

“Alright, I’ll see you soon.”  I couldn’t help the smile on my face as I headed to my car.  This was a game-changer.  


Michael kept hinting that he had ‘runs’ for me to do after lunch, so when everything was cleaned up I approached him and Eric.  Eric gave me a rapidly scribbled list of important items that we needed immediately from Staples.  First of all, staples, in case we needed, you know, staples.  Accounting had a box of 5000 but they use a lot of staples, so, yeah, more staples would be good.  Then, some packing tape, because eventually the wardrobe assistants would be coming in, and after fitting the cast that wasn’t confirmed yet they would need to ship wardrobe stuff to wherever, and would more than the measly two rolls of packing tape we currently had in the supply room.  Fine.  Also, we needed a ream of paper that was 3-hole punched already, because the 20 reams we had and the industrial hole punchers in the office were apparently not sufficient.  Then, a pack of napkins, because the 12 rolls of paper towels and pile of napkins we had already were not good enough, we needed a real pack of our own napkins.  They seemed to be having a hard time thinking of things for me to do, and this was the best they could come up with; Michael and Eric had apparently worked on this list all morning.  “We’ll find some more things for you to do when you get back.”  Michael smiled at me as if he were pleased with his accomplishment.


On some level, I know things will get hectic soon, and I understand that they are gearing up for the storm, but this seemed pretty lame at the moment.  They didn’t need me there and everybody knew it.  On my way out to Staples I stopped at the office next door and asked for Kent.  A sweet APOC named Megan went to his office and told me he would be out in a few minutes.  I waited for a few, then dropped my business card at her desk.

“I only have a few minutes right now, but I can drop back in a little later,” I told her.  “Can I just leave this for Kent?”

“Sure.”  She smiled at me, and I left.  Now, Kent had my name, and he could look me up on LinkedIn and check out my resume, to get an idea of what I do.


After the "supply run" I came back to the office, scanned my receipts, and after multiple requests from Robert, Michael finally released me to help him out a little.  I poked my head into his office and saluted.  “Reporting for duty, sir.”

Robert looked up with a wry smile.  “Ok, give me a second.  I’m tempted to ask you to figure out how to work this safe, but maybe I should do that part.”  He chuckled.

I laughed a little.  “Yeah, that might be a, conflict of interest.”  He gave me a stack of files and labels and told me how he wanted them put together, it was a very specific system.  Then some filing where I was sickened to find out Rebekah’s inflated rate… she was doing nothing that I couldn’t do and making insane money doing it.  I had to concede that she must be doing something right.  Robert only had a little work for me at the moment, so once that was wrapped up I returned to my desk.  5pm was getting close when I asked Michael if he had anything else at the moment.  

“Well, it’s close to the end of the day, so you can start wrapping that up,”  he told me.  I nodded because I knew he meant the trash and coffee.  “You know, the trash, coffee and everything.”  I sighed inwardly because yes, I know, thank you Michael for clarifying.  And, also, pretty fucked up that you told me you’d find something else, then told me to do this, you unbelievable fuck.  It was like he tricked me into telling me again to empty the trash.  He really enjoyed telling me to empty the fucking trash.  And, I realized, that when he described me to other people, this would be the spin.  ‘I had to tell her to empty the trash, like, every day.  Every day, I had to tell her, to, empty the trash.’

Outwardly I was a picture of cheery and helpful.  “Oh, sure, I’m on it!”


After emptying the trash and resetting the coffee to brew the next morning, I returned to my desk and sat in silence for twenty minutes or so, then walked out of the office as if I were headed to the bathroom, and turned the corner into Kent’s office.  Megan recognized me immediately and checked with Kent, who emerged from his office a second later.  “Why don’t you come on back?” He invited me graciously, and I stepped in and sat down.  “So, I looked you up, and I found that you have your own webpage,”  He began.  

Oh! well, I guess that was bound to happen, but it wasn’t my intention in this setting, and although I shouldn’t have been embarrassed I might have turned a little red.  My webpage wasn’t bad, it was just all about ‘Loa Allebach, the Actress’ not ‘Loa Allebach, the Production Guru, Whom You Should Immediately Hire For Your Production Needs.’  

I chuckled.  “Ah, yes, hmm.  Well, I’m an actress too, but I thought you might find me on LinkedIn or something,” I returned with a chuckle.

“So you’re an actress?  Why aren’t you pursuing that?”

“Well, I am, but, it’s kind of like, an expensive hobby,” I acknowledged.  “I can’t really afford to pursue it full-time, so I do this.”

“Yeah, its definitely, expensive,” he was looking at his computer screen and looked down.  “My son was actually a child actor, he worked a lot, got a recurring role on True Blood when he was younger, and did pretty well.”

“Wow, that’s amazing!  Save some money for college, that’s great.”

“Yeah, he saved, a hundred grand.”  He looked up at me with a look on his face like he was still processing this event, like there was something surreal about it, even though it must have happened years before.  True Blood’s last season ended five years ago.

“That’s awesome.”

“Yeah, he got really lucky, but then we decided school was a better route.  So tell me about you.”

“Well, I’m working across the hall right now… and I took this job, basically because I wanted to shift out of commercial work and into features.  I told them that from the beginning, they said that they thought that my skills would be really helpful, and they were happy that I knew so much about production already.  I was really clear about that I knew commercial production really well, but I wanted to learn features, and all the stuff I didn’t need to know with commercials.  So far though, they haven’t really been teaching me anything, and have actually been, kind of shielding me, from learning anything?  So, I guess it’s not what I expected, and in fairness they didn’t explicitly say, ‘we will teach you,’ so maybe I, wanted to hear that part.”  I laughed a little, partially because it was true, but also because I felt like I was just realizing it.  They didn’t actually say they would teach me anything, it just seemed to be implied; but now that I have interacted with these people for a few minutes, I realized that nothing they say makes any sense.

He laughed with me and nodded as if he understood the dynamic.  “Well, I have a couple of openings coming up.”  I didn’t really expect this either.  I expected him to pass me off to some other team, or maybe send a referral somewhere, so I was just now also realizing that this was an actual job interview.

My energy started buzzing but I tried to keep it under control.  “Okay.”

He went on to talk about the series, which boasted Kevin Hart as one of the executive producers.  “We have filmed the pilot, and we are starting filming on the first season, nine episodes, in about three weeks.”  He paused as wheels were turning in his head.  “I haven’t filled the production supervisor, and I also need some office help…” Was he considering me for production supervisor?  If there was one thing I was learning from Michael and Rebekah, it was that I didn’t need to learn how to do their jobs, I already knew how to do their jobs.  “The office positions are, they would be like assistant production coordinators, that I need to fill.”  Assistant Production Coordinator was a hair above PA, but in this case it was still a step up.  

“Well, I’m down for that, only because, I know there’s a lot of crossover with commercials and longer-form production, but there’s also a lot of extra factors that I’m not familiar with yet, so I want to get a handle on those.  Like a Day Out of Days report, for instance… I know what it is, it’s just not something I ever had to deal with on the commercial side.”  Kent nodded in understanding as I went on.  “But one thing I will say, is that I’m sharp, and I’m like a sponge when learning new protocol - I will ask a few dumb questions but I only need to learn something once, and then it’s locked in.”  Kent could tell I was a natural leader, and I was crossing my fingers, petitioning the universe that I was exactly what he needed right now.  

“Well, no questions are dumb questions,” he smiled.  “We had a girl for a while, that was really nice, but she would ask the same dumb questions, over and over again, and we were like, ‘we just answered that…’ so that didn’t really work out.”

“Yeah, well, production is, not for everybody.”  I chuckled.

He nodded.  “So, the other thing is, there are a couple of people that I may have to hire, I don’t know yet, mostly coming from the executive producers.  One of them, is, not really ready yet.”  Ah, the catch.  When he said this, I suspected that Kent wanted to hire me, and might even have sealed the deal on the spot, but had to work around somebody’s nephew or girlfriend that had first dibs on the job.  “I should know in a couple of days, so stop by again this week?  I’ll try to get it all figured out.”

“That sounds great,” I flashed him another confident smile, and shook his hand as I left, stealing a glance away for a second to memorize his name plate.  The potential of working on this project was so much greater than anything Rebekah or Michael would offer… even the chat with Kent was so wildly refreshing I was already in a fabulous mood.  There was another office PA scheduled to start Monday and with a little luck I’d be swapping offices by then.


I started practicing my ‘I quit’ speech in my head… calm, logical, straightforward, no vulgarities.  I expected to learn more about production, I made that clear from the beginning; but it doesn’t feel like that’s going to happen, so there’s no real value in this job for me.  I don’t mind the work, but I don’t feel like I’m a good fit with your management style.  I wish you all the best of luck.  Rot in hell you insolent creep.  Maybe leave that last part out.  


Wednesday, August 7 - PREP DAY 8 - TGIF

It’s a new day!  I weighed in at 150 this morning and the gym is doing me good.  I took a shower, blowdried my hair so it was shiny and swishy and smooth again.  I don’t know why that makes me feel better?  Maybe it’s a femininity thing or something.  Like, ‘Yeah I can move furniture, but I can also look like a million bucks doing it.’


When I approached the former Citrus headquarters there were two large boom rigs parked in front of the building extending flags to the third floor windows, art department unloading flats from a stakebed, and security stationed at the parking lot entrance.  Apparently there was a shoot happening on the third floor today.  I crossed over the electric cables and under the boom arms and entered.  When I arrived in the office nobody said anything, there was just the suffocating silence of their instant messages, low whispers to eachother, sidelong glances with feigned ignorance that I had showed up, despite the open-air layout and Michael’s desk positioned to stare directly at my desk all day.  “Good morning!” I bounced in cheerily, only to feel the sag of the room swallow my sentiments and retreat into oblivion.  Fuck you!  It’s gonna be a good day!


Charity was the first to notice my hair.  “Wow, your hair looks great!”  She told me.  I beamed a little and thanked her, but had to repress the acceptance of her honest compliment with the knowledge that she had only ever seen me with my hair pulled back and retracted to it’s normal curly frizzled state.


Early in the day Roger approached Michael to ask if he could grab some corkboard from the adjoining room, where it was stacked and useless, and Michael told him to help himself to whatever he wanted.  

“Do you have a minute?”  Roger asked me.

“Sure, what do you need?”  I was a picture of willing and helpful.

“Can you give me a hand bringing some cork board to my office?  I want to put some on the wall.”

“Yeah, let’s do it.”  We headed into the ne xt room and grabbed a 4’ x 8’ piece, which was awkward but light.  The two of us carried it to his office, and I told him I could mount it on the wall, I just needed a drill, some anchors, some wood screws, drywall and Phillips bits and a level, and I’d be right back.


I texted Mark about borrowing a few things, but after a few minutes without a response, I approached Michael.

“So, hey, I sent a text to Mark about borrowing a drill and screws, but I totally have all this stuff at home, and since I’m really close, I could run home and grab it.”

Michael, Eric, and Rebekah exchanged looks.  Apparently Mark was in a foul mood this morning and they were hesitant to ask him for anything.  “Yeah, if you have it, maybe we could do that,”  Michael ventured.  When he meant me, he always said ‘we’, as if there was some kind of bonding happening here, like ‘we’ were in this together; but it was never ‘we’, it was always some menial task for me.  I could’t help thinking how much his face in its twisted state looked like a frog’s head.

Rebekah piped in.  “The less we have to ask him for, the better.”  She added a wry chuckle, as if there were some big secret everybody knew but nobody would say out loud, that Mark wasn’t exactly jazzed this morning.  

“Great, I’ll run home, and I’ll be back shortly!”  I headed out the door.  


As I crossed the parking lot, Hagai had just parked his motorcycle and was walking towards the building, and lo and behold Mark was walking towards him, apparently deciding that this was a good opportunity to accost him for whatever fucking reason on earth.  I was approaching slowly, listening to the conversation; Mark was hot, loud, obviously agitated and was gesturing towards the bike and the building with his back to me.

“… I ride too, and I’m telling you, on a day like today, you could…”

Hagai was holding his backpack and looking confused, unsure why he was being stopped on his way in, but was nodding in agreement, which was the only response one could logically give to Mark, who was unnaturally excited at this moment.

“On a day like today?  They’re shooting!  You should know better!”  His tone was accusing as he gestured towards Hagai’s BMW bike… “You could take your sack, of SHIT —“

Hagai was clearly disturbed and this is when I decided to interrupt.  “Mark!  Hi!”  I interrupted from behind with a big smile and a tinge of sharpness.  “This is my producer, Hagai.”

“Oh, nice to meet you.”  They shook hands. Mark was instantly reticent, Hagai instantly relieved.  “Sorry, man, I was just saying, I ride too, and you could park your bike in the building, and not have to worry about any of these crew people, and I could get you a remote, like now they’re shooting, so the gates will be opened until late anyway, but you could have the remote, and have access anytime, and your bike would be covered, and be safe…” He was backpedaling his little bitch-fest as I stood there playing chaperone for this episode, making sure he didn’t assault my producer, but I was disgusted.  This is the guy Mark is when I’m not looking - a pissed off, aggressive, little shit of a man, playing god to everyone in the parking lot when he thinks nobody else is around.  Maybe whatever trauma he was experiencing gave him permission to be a full-time dick, and he ran with it.

Hagai chimed in.  “I think, for today, since I’m late, I’ll just leave it here, if that’s okay.”  He was legitimately asking permission to park in the spot bearing his name, and my job was to release him from this disaster.

“Okay, sure, no problem, I’m just saying, I’ve got a space that’s just for bikes back there, and the remote, it’s easy, if you get one, I’ll program it for you.”

It was time to interject again.  “Well maybe we can get one.  Hagai, do you want me to pick one up?”

Hagai nodded, he could see something was wrong with Mark, and clearly had no intention of subjecting his bike to whatever ‘special’ parking spot Mark was offering.  “Yeah, that works.”  He was subtle, but really wanted to exit this ridiculous conversation, and was legitimately late.

“Great, I’ll pick one up, I’ll see you inside!”  I smiled at Hagai as he walked away, finally released at my cue, then readdressed Mark to demand his full attention.  “It’s just a generic one, right?  Can probably get it at Home Depot?”

Mark was trying the bridge the waters of helpful, bossy, and trying to impress me with the vast abyss of his infinite knowledge.  “Yeah, it just has, one screw, so you can take off the housing, and adjust the, you know… you have to find the one with one screw.”  He said it with emphasis as if it was the most obvious thing, that so many people had fucked up in the past. 

“I think I know the one.  One button, right?”

“Yeah.  One button.  None of these fancy ones… like the Mercedes might not have it…” he pointed towards an SUV and trailed off again.  Something was really amiss with Mark this morning, and I had cutely cut his rant down when it was just getting started, so he wasn’t sure of where to go now.  I was silently questioning whether Mark’s days in this building would last the 12 weeks before this production ended, and if his replacement would be totally incompetent.

He changed the subject.  “So, hey, I have a drill and all that stuff.”

“Oh, no worries, we got it covered for now.”  I smiled at him, not bothering to mention that I was going home to get my own.  “And I have lots of chocolate upstairs whenever you want some!”  I walked towards my car, turning back to smile at him.  Mark needed more smiles in his life, and I felt like he wasn’t getting many at the moment.  He was in dire need of a blowjob.


I went home and picked up my drill, anchors, screws, bits and level and headed back to the office.  Inside a few minutes I had Roger’s corkboard securely fastened to the wall and Michael pretended to be impressed with my small case of tools.  “There’s literally, more tools in that case, than I have ever owned.”  He told me.

I laughed at him.  “I have a whole cabinet full.  And more tool boxes in the car.”  

He walked away like a diva, someone who could’t possibly subject himself to hanging a picture on a wall.  That kind of masculine labor was not for someone with his delicate sensibilities.


After installing Roger’s cork board, I was again at an impasse with nothing to do for a while.   It was close to 10am when Eric approached me, obviously at Michael’s bequest.

“So, Paul and Hagai have a meeting at ten, so can you send the lunch menu out?”

If Michael didn’t want to tell me something to do, that I already was planning to do, he sent Eric to tell me to do it.  Ugh.  I was tired of Michael’s tactics of telling me to do something I already was doing, and this was just one more annoying alleyway for him to execute his fucked-up agenda.

“Sure, I’ll send it out right now!”  I already had the lunch menu queued up, I just wasn’t planning to send it for another twenty minutes or so.  Just then, Paul, Hagai, and Charity locked themselves in a meeting so it didn’t matter, but I sent it anyway.


As usual, production ordered first, likely because they were just fucking hungry.  Michael with his chicken sandwich, Eric and his southwestern salad, and Rebekah with her turkey sandwich and salad combo were all very quick to respond.  It was around this time that I began wondering if they knew how to pick up lunch, but quickly dismissed the thought of them starving and wasting away to emaciation and dust in my absence.  


I picked up lunch and duly delivered to each person’s desk, as I did every day.  They all pretended they didn’t see it arrive, and acted pleasantly surprised to see it delivered, as they did every day.  Heavens help you should get up from the computer you’re playing Tetris on, and pick your lunch up from the desk ten feet away, for the love of god.  But, whatever, that was the job, and I was all smiles handing them out.  I actually kind of enjoyed this part of it, at the very least it was a nice delivery everybody was secretly happy about, even if they pretended not to notice.  


After lunch, Rebekah made an announcement.  “I read the script!  Finally!”  She said, and I was dumbfounded.  She had been paid, handsomely, for three days of her ‘consultation’ about making this movie, an amount of money that I could comfortably live on for two months, and I mean, with massages, spa treatments, the works.  And she hadn’t even read the fucking script yet????  I didn’t say anything, and neither did anyone else.  As soon as the words settled in this weirdly silent room, she began backpedaling.  “I mean, I read, the latest, updated version, that Adam sent…” she had a way of mumbling and trailing off, and it clearly hadn’t failed her yet.  Fuck you, this was a first read and you made it fucking obvious, you overpaid trick.  By the way, the script has been sitting in the dropbox for over a week now, in case you ever need to know what the fuck you're working on.


When I have these thoughts, I can’t help wondering if it’s me.  Is this industry standard?  First you overbill for three days of some bullshit ‘consultation’, then show up late and leave early for weeks, then you read the script?  How does that make sense?  I am new to features, so maybe I have it backwards.  Maybe that’s what everybody does?  Rebekah’s obvious regression from her original announcement told me she knew that it wasn’t cool; she just had conceded to the habit of spitting out whatever random thoughts were in her head at any given time, and listening to them for the first time right along with her audience.




I mentioned to Michael that there were a few crafty things running low… Kind bars, RX bars, raisins… when Rebekah’s ears perked up.  “Are you going to get some crafty?”

“I think there’s a few things that need stocking, so I think so, right?”  Passively asking Michael for permission.  I had nothing else to do, so I was finding things myself this time.

“Oh, okay, so the hummus?  I actually like the spicy kind, that’s, spicy, you know?  And maybe you could get some cucumbers?  You know, like English cucumbers that you don’ t have to peel… and maybe some of those cheeses in wax?  I personally like the light blue ones… I’ll text you!” Rebekah was essentially reading off her personal snacks preferences.  She didn’t care what everybody else liked, this was for her.  We had hummus, but she wanted slightly more spicy hummus.  Fine.

Eric approached me to tell me that I needed to go to Ikea, to buy two floor lamps.

“Ikea?”  I asked him.  “I think Target might have them, they’re just standard ones, right?”  The nearest Ikea was in Burbank, about twenty minutes away in good traffic, forty minutes in shitty traffic; but beyond that, Ikea was a gigantic maze.  Parking was always fucked and it took an hour to get through it, even if you only wanted to buy one specific thing.  They designed it in a way that each customer entering the store has to follow a path which leads them past every single fucking line item they are selling with very few hidden shortcuts.  It would likely be a two-and-a-half-hour mission to go to Ikea, although, they had a pretty good cafeteria with delicious Swedish meatballs.

“Well, Target doesn’t show any in stock, and Staples….”  He trailed off.  This was apparently an acceptable way to end an exchange. 

“Staples will be like fifty bucks.”  I told him, and he nodded with surprise that I knew that, and confirmation that he had actually checked.  “What’s the budget for these?”

“Well, Ikea has them for $16.”  He grimaced as he said it.  This would be hard to beat. 

“Well, shit, you can order them on Amazon, and they’ll be here tomorrow.”

Michael interjected.  “We need them today.”  Of course you do.  Because it’s a fucking emergency, no doubt, that the office lighting be slightly more palatable, immediately.  God help us if we don’t have floor lamps today, that I suggested a week ago.  I think it was around then when I realized they just wanted to get rid of me for a few hours, and in all honesty, I should have just taken the bait and disappeared for the afternoon.  It might have been a nice break.

“Well, I need to go to Target anyway, for crafty, so maybe I’ll check if they have them?  Then, if they don’t, I can head to Ikea, but it’s like a 2-hour trip.”

Eric nodded with fake sympathy, his face wrenched into a man-pout, if there is such a thing.  Maybe he’d soaked in some lessons from Michael.  “I know.”


Guess what.  Target carried them.  But, you know what they didn’t carry?  Spicy hummus.  So I had to make a separate stop at Trader Joe’s for Rebekah’s bullshit.


I spent my sweet time unpacking and organizing crafty munchies in the kitchen, for lack of anything else to do, and because the kitchen was out of Michael’s sight, which meant I could vape if I fucking felt like it.


Rebekah came into the kitchen for something, surprised to see me there, and I had to wonder where she thought I might have been?  She started in with her nervous smalltalk.  “I don’t know why I’m so tired!” She exclaimed.  It’s because you had a turkey sandwich for lunch, genius.  “I didn’t used to get this tired!  It’s something about, when I turned forty, I just get tired.  And I used to be soooo thin, and now it’s like I can’t lose it!  Getting old sucks!”  Rebekah was 45.  I was 42, but she seemed to deliver as if she were a wise sage preparing me for my distant future, which was sort of an unintentional compliment on her part.  “I don’t know why I want chocolate.  Usually I want chocolate before my period, but now I want chocolate during my period!  It started two days ago!”  She didn’t have to justify to me why she was grabbing chocolate munchies, and she certainly didn’t need to clue me in about the details of her cycle, but for whatever reason she felt impelled to tell me.  Maybe she was trying to bond?  No.  Maybe she thought I was a cool kid?  No way, not possible, I laughed to myself.  My respect for Rebekah had dwindled well into a red zone and I had long given up trying to have a conversation with her, as I knew it would be ferociously one-sided. 

I pretended I was 31 and responded.  “When I turned thirty, I gained ten pounds.”

“Yeah!  Me too, somewhere around there, I think when I was thirty I gained some weight, but there was another time too, and I was really athletic before, and I was sooo thin, and now it’s like it just won’t go away…” I tuned her out.  I only had to give her one trigger, and she would blather for five minutes, but I decided that Rebekah didn’t need to know any more about me than was common knowledge or standard stereotype.  


Around 4pm, I stopped by Kent's office again.  Megan fetched him and he emerged and shook my hand.

"Hi, Kent, I just wanted to stop by, and, see if there was any update."  I smiled at him.

He smiled back.  "No update yet, I'm working on it.  Can you come back tomorrow?  Tomorrow afternoon?"

"Sure, I'll see you then.  Have a great day!"  I exited feeling positive once again.  He didn't blow me off yet, he actually made another appointment.  This was somewhat promising.


When I went to the bathroom, I found that the women’s handicapped bathroom door lock was broken.  I liked the handicapped room because it was total privacy; I could lock the door and hang out in there if I wanted to… but with the lock broken, it was essentially out of service.  After dicking with it for a minute I figured out the solve, and couldn’t help but notice there was a utility cart parked right next to it.  A lightbulb went off in my head… this was Mark’s cart.  Later I texted Mark to let him know where the utility cart was, and still later I discovered his solution to the bathroom door… now there was a hot pink post-it note next to the handle with the words, “LOCK BROKEN.”


I was done with everything on my pathetic little list by 3:30, and sat at my desk praying for the day to end.  Around 4pm I heard Michael on the phone with Warner Brothers Costume department, wanting to know how to open up a credit card account.  I had a hard time with this, because I had opened this account for various productions, at least twenty times.  I had all the forms he needed and the contacts to send them to, but I couldn’t possibly pipe up with this information, Michael would just brush me off.  It was excruciating to listen to him try to navigate this task, possibly for the first time, and I realized once again that there was nothing this impotent jackass could possibly teach me, except possibly how to fuck up a production beyond recognition, blame someone else for it, and move on to the next job.


Michael released me around 6:45, not before asking me repeatedly if I’d emptied the office trash, and reminding me to come in at 9AM.  Yes, Michael, I know it’s 9AM, it’s 9AM every day.  I called Holly on my way to the gym, desperately needing a soundboard.

“I know, in some way, it’s me!” I told her.  “Maybe I’m too sensitive to this shit!  He will find a reason, any reason, to tell me to empty the trash, that he already knows I know to do!  Sometimes he’ll tell me to empty the trash, WHILE I’M EMPTYING THE TRASH.  Sometimes, he will tell me to empty the trash at 5 o’clock, then remind me at 4:30, and the next day at 4 o’clock, just so he can tell me before I’m actually doing it.  Sometimes, he will tell me he has something else for me to do, and when I ask him what, he’ll tell me to empty the fucking trash!  Then, he will watch me do it, and then ASK ME IF I DID IT!?!  It’s like a weird power-tripping thing for him to tell me to empty the trash!  Seriously, what the fuck?!!”

Holly sincerely sympathized.  “That’s just, the soul-sucking shit.  It sounds like, he needs to feel important somehow, by telling you to do something stupid.  It’s really sad.”

“That’s exactly it!”  I had a hard time containing myself.  “He just looooooves telling me to do something menial, but it’s also yes, exactly, really soul-sucking!  I have to quit, it’s just, I can’t, I gotta do what’s right for me.  He is so unbelievably disrespectful, and I’m over that chapter in my life.”

Holly was encouraging.  “You don’t need that, you’re better than that.”

“I gotta quit.”  I was trying convince myself as much as Holly.  “If the other job doesn’t happen, that’s okay, I mean, it’s not ideal, but either way, I gotta quit.  They won’t teach me anything, and that’s the only reason I took the gig.”

“You should do what’s right for you!  Fuck those guys!  If you’re not learning anything then they have nothing to offer you!”

It was admittedly nice to hear an agreement, even if the only basis she had was what I told her, but Holly was so much like me, she understood the dynamic.


After wiping myself out at the gym, again, I decided the time to quit was early afternoon, after lunch.  I would give them a half day to turn around their BS, which wouldn’t happen.  I would agree to work through Friday, but fully expected them to let me go at the end of the day Thursday.  I spoke with Jon later and made a bet to this effect.

“It’s hard to say,” I told him, “because they have another PA starting Monday, but they have janitorial service Friday, so they won’t need me to take out the fucking trash.  Essentially all they would need me for on Friday is to order lunch; but the flip side is, that they seem to love torturing me.  So they might keep me through Friday specifically for that reason.  I want to bet, that they will let me go by the end of the day on Thursday, so that when they fire me, I can laugh and say I just won a bet.  Will you bet me?”  Jon laughed at this prospect but agreed.  “And I will owe you fifty smackers if they keep me Friday.”

“Well, maybe we can figure out a barter.”  He laughed again and I laughed with him.  As long as I could say I just won a bet that would ease the blow.


Thursday, August 8 - PREP DAY 9 - TGIF

Thursday morning the office was more suffocating than usual.  The oxygen in the room was being sucked out a little more each day, and today it was sickeningly thin.  


There were two specific duties I had every day; ordering lunch and emptying the trash.  Michael must really enjoy telling me to do these things, because he keeps finding new and exciting ways to tell me to do them, knowing full well that I already know but insisting on telling me anyway.  


Yesterday Michael sent Eric to me, to tell me to order lunch at 10am, because the guys were going into a meeting.  This wasn’t all that necessary because they all had their laptops and could respond to the email at any time with their lunch order; which they did during the meeting anyway.  It was an excuse to tell me to do it; some special circumstance in which ordering lunch had to be done earlier than usual, and therefore I needed to be told to carry out this important task.  


Today Eric sidled up to my desk at 9:15, looking awkward and appearing uncomfortable.  “So, um, since the guys have early meetings, we’re thinking to just, you know, ummm…” Michael had clearly put him up to this stupidity as he trailed off.  

“You want me to send out the lunch menu at like, 9:30?”  I asked him, and his face flushed as he nodded in relief of not having to actually vocalize this moronic idea.  Michael had apparently been brainstorming new ways to tell me to order lunch, and this is what he came up with.  Next I fully expect a request to order lunch the night before.  Or send a menu ahead of time for approval or some bullshit.  Michael, who had worked in this building on three different movies over the last two years, didn’t have so much as a beginner list of restaurants in the neighborhood.  That wasn’t his job.


It turned out Paul and Hagai wouldn’t even be in the office today, and there was no meeting.  Figures.


I decided that after lunch was the time to quit, I’d do it with an email so I had it in writing, and see what happened.  After picking up lunch, I started to feel nervous, and my hands shook handling a plastic fork… then a tremendous headache overtook me; I popped a couple of Advil but I was dreading this idea so much.  The food was good but I felt like I was eating rocks, my throat was closing up making it hard to swallow.  After a few bites of tuna, sharp pains started to stab at my gut but I knew this was just another psycho-somatic manifestation of nerves.  


I picked at my tuna salad and starting sorting through the handful of receipts that Paul had given me the day before.  Not many, less than ten.  Around that time Rebekah decided to test out the speakers she brought to the office.  They were cheap with little pink neon lights and she set them atop her cubicle walls and said, “Let’s see ….”  A moment later, The  Backstreet Boys started blaring with “I Did It My Way,” nesting comfortably at the top of the list of cheese-ball mid-90s pop charts.  

Within the first few bars, Charity started laughing.  “That’s a throwback!”  She said with a smile.

“Right?”  Rebekah was proud of herself, and I think everyone expected her to turn down the volume, because we all thought it was a joke, but she didn’t.  She played bad pop all afternoon… Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, All For One for gods sake.  The music was so bad it was impossible to concentrate, the airwaves were attacking me.   Eventually she turned it down a little but for a while it was ridiculously loud.  


Some other random events of the afternoon… Michael went on a tangent about his irrational phobia of flat tires, due to a childhood incident when he sat on a tire and it blew out, which apparently scarred him for life… then segued into another rant about how he was ‘chunky’ as a child, how his mother would shop for his clothes at Sears and ask for the ‘Husky’ section in an embarrassed whisper.  Then, Michael thought it entertaining to re-tell the story of ripping off the belly dancers at his first job waiting tables in Burlington Massachusetts, but to the whole office this time.  He emulated stuffing their tips down his pants and justified it with, “Look at me!  And look at them!  Nobody is going to tip this!” Gesturing towards his thin, gangly, hunching frame.  “It was the only way I could make any money!”  The office laughed but I couldn’t… I hated this story the first time, a week ago today.  In my head, I pictured a tyrannical king in his pompous medieval castle, surrounded by subjects that could barely tolerate him, and all the subjects laughing politely every time he laughed, because they didn’t want to get beheaded.  Or Billy Bush chuckling at Trump’s ‘grab ‘em by the pussy’ remark.  Was it cool?  No it was not.  Did Billy say that at the time?  No, no he didn’t.


Michael picked up his phone in the late afternoon.  His next words were, “No sorry he died.”  A pause.  “No, he died, he’s DEAD.  Yeah, thank you.”  He said it with such deadpan that it was actually pretty funny.  I had to hand it to him for that.  “The guy asked me if he could speak to the head of the household.”  He said, shrugging, as he left the room.  We were all laughing, and I had to wonder if that was original.  It was a little on the morbid side, but possibly a decent way to get rid of phone solicitors.  I doubt he thought that up on his own.  Still funny.


Rebekah announced to the office that the Funyons in the kitchen crafty were “staring her in the face”, and reminded her of some nostalgic childhood whatever.  She didn’t mention the hummus, so I’m standing by my original theory.  Rebekah doesn’t even want hummus; she wants junk food.  She just says she wants hummus because she wants other people to think she wants hummus, so other people will think of her as a healthy eater, because healthy eating is cool.  I don’t know, maybe she likes hummus, maybe not, but she can’t seem to stop talking about chocolate and junk food….


After lunch, I still hadn’t sent the email when Rebekah asked me to mail some things at the UPS store.  They had run out of work-related things so now I was on to her personal errands.  One of them had something to do with a timeshare, which she talked about for a good ten minutes, her friend had it, and didn’t want it, and her dad bought it, and didn’t use it, and then transferred it to her, but it was in Cabo and since Mexican tourism was dangerous she didn’t want to go there, so she transferred it to a network, and now she can use it all over the world, blah blah blah.  On to Judge Judy airing cases about people trying to get out of timeshares, how hers was a good value since she didn’t buy it, just inherited it, and buying it might not have been a good value… on and on about this stupid timeshare, and could I mail this envelope at the UPS store.  Also, she needed me to ship an Amazon return, a cheap Chinese swimsuit.  So that too. 


Michael and Eric had been mentioning since the morning that they had nothing to do; it was uncharacteristically slow.  The location scouts were independent and didn’t need crafty or vans or any help from them, nobody was requesting insurance certs, they were literally out of things do themselves.  So I decided after the errands my first order of business was sending the email, around 2:30pm.  It was quick and to the point, I sent it to Rebekah and Michael and blind-copied Robert.



Hi Rebekah and Michael,


Before I started with this project you were aware of my production background, and I made it clear to both of you that the reason I would be willing to accept a position as Office PA was so that I could learn production aspects of film that I don’t have familiarity with in commercials.


I feel after nearly two weeks now that I am not being included in any part of production and I am not learning anything; so there is no value for me in remaining part of the project as Office PA. 


I can stay through tomorrow 8/9 and I understand an additional PA, Daniel, is starting on Monday 8/12. Since my duties are so limited, I am confident Daniel will take up the slack with little instruction.  


I am happy to recommend some of my PA's to pitch in if more help is needed.  I wish you all the best of luck with the project and a smooth shoot and post.


Warm regards,

Loa Allebach



Within a few seconds, I could hear the sound effects of Rebekah and Michael texting eachother on iMessage.  Shooop!  A message sent.  Fwooop.  A message received.  Shooop!  Fwooop.  Shooop!  Fwooop.  Oh for the love of god.


Rebekah finally spoke up.  “Hey Loa, I got your email, we’re sorry to see you go, I know it’s kind of a thankless job, so I understand.”

Michael added coldly, “I’ll need to get your key.”  It was just one more way of him telling me something I already knew, just to tell me.  “And your parking pass.”  He didn’t look away from his screen, he was really making a concerted effort to be a dick.

Rebekah paused for a moment, then continued.  “So, we’ll keep you through tomorrow, that’s fine, and I think Daniel can start early, right?”  As it turns out, Daniel wasn’t scheduled to start until August 19th.  Once again Michael had given me bad information, along with calling the additional PA 'David' for the first week, but that’s on him.

“Maybe, I’ll check with him.”  Michael intentionally wouldn’t make eye contact after that.  Eric wandered around in his corner looking awkward, and Charity pretended to ignore the entire conversation.  For a minute, I thought I just lost fifty bucks.  Shooop!  Fwooop.  Shooop!  Fwooop.

“I’m just thinking, we might not have anything for Loa to do tomorrow,” Rebekah pretended to address Michael but it was clearly for my benefit, as they had just obviously had this conversation via instant message.  She addressed me… “I’m just thinking, we can make today your last day, I think, cuz we won’t have anything for you to do tomorrow anyway.”

“That’s fine, I’m good either way, and I just won a bet.”  I smiled a little but nobody acknowledged my presence.  I was okay with that, I said it.


I got up and went to the bathroom.  When I was coming back I saw Michael in the hallway, talking on his headset.  He looked at me and turned back the other direction, obviously avoiding me.  I knew they were looking for another PA to take over but the only reason he would need to have this conversation in the hallway was make sure I didn’t hear it, which meant he could be either A) shit-talking me, or B) offering someone else more money.  Likely shit-talking me though, that was bound to happen anyway, and I could already feel it coming from Eric, who seemed to think I was below him, and seemed to be intimidated at the same time.  Eric and Michael were buddied up so it was obvious where this slant was coming from.  


When I got back to my desk, I still needed to finish scanning Paul’s receipts when I got a notification that I’d been removed from the dropbox.  Now, for those of you not familiar, when you’re working on a production team, one person creates a dropbox folder with all the subfolders in it for production reference,  Purchase orders, receipts, insurance certs, schedules, script, locations, etc.  Depending on the production there may be other drop boxes created with only specific access… casting, accounting, more of the sensitive stuff.  Everybody working on the production team contributes to these folders, so that everyone else is able to access the digital backup.  They had removed me, so not only did I not have access, but I also could not contribute, which meant I couldn’t save Paul’s receipts in the folder where Paul’s receipts went.  I mentioned this to Rebekah, and asked if they would rather process Paul’s receipts and I would be happy to hand them over.


Rather than do the work themselves, since they were already so busy doing fucking nothing, and possibly because they didn’t know how to scan, Rebekah reinstated my access so that I could do a little more work before leaving.  It was essentially the only real work that I had, and it was more for Paul’s personal records than anything else, as most of the receipts couldn’t be charged to the production anyway.


When that was done, I asked if there was anything else they wanted me to take care of before leaving, or should I just pack up now?

Rebekah ignored me.  Michael was still in the hall.  Eric responded.  “Just make sure, your close-out is done.”

I had already turned in my petty cash and Michael had already told me it was square.  “What do you mean close out?  You mean PC?”

“Oh, just make sure, you, empty the trash, and everything.”  I stared at Eric, dumbfounded and inside was rising with a slow clap for Michael.  He found one more lingering opportunity to tell me, to take out motherfucking trash.  I didn’t answer Eric.

“If you don’t mind.”  He added.  I looked at him and turned around.  Fuck everybody in this god-forsaken office.  Take out your own motherfucking trash you insufferable pricks.

“Sure, I can knock that out.”  I told him.


I turned in my timecard to Rebekah and petty cash to Michael, then started tidying up my desk, and found a couple packs of labels, some binder clips and a box of paperclips in a drawer.  I had put them there for use later, but now would not be needing them.  “These can go in the supply room,” I said to myself, and with Michael now out of the room I could feel Eric watching me, hovering around my desk, waiting for me to do something.  I picked them up and headed towards the copy room, and Eric followed me.  As I walked in I looked back to see him lurching awkwardly in the doorway, then spinning around and returning to his desk.  WHAT THE MOTHERFUCKING FUCK.  Michael had apparently told Eric to watch my every move, for, what?  Make sure I didn’t steal anything maybe?  Or burn the place down on my way out the door?  I had been nothing but accommodating to these assholes, and they treated me like a fucking vagrant.  That behavior was entirely on them.


I packed up my stuff and made the first trip down to my car.  My kit, my computer, a sack of crafty cups and doodads I’d brought from home in an effort to be helpful on day two.  I returned upstairs to get the rest and nobody spoke a word to me.  I grabbed my printer, purse and sweater and headed down again, this time realizing I’d left the parking pass in the car.  I didn’t want to leave yet because I wanted to drop by Kent’s office for any possible movement, so grabbed the parking pass and headed upstairs again.  


I stepped into Kent’s office where Megan greeted me, but there was something cold about her greeting this time.  

“Is Kent in at the moment?” I asked, and she nodded, looking at me strangely, then headed back to his office.  

After about ten seconds she returned.   “He’s on a phone call, but he has your number, so he’ll call you.”  This was the cold-shoulder brushoff I’d expected two days before, I guess it caught up to me. 

“Okay, no worries.  Does he have a card?  Or email where I could get in touch?”

She looked shifty and uncomfortable.  “He will call you.  He has your info.  I can’t give that out.”

“I understand,” I told her.  “Could you let him know that I’m not working in the building anymore?  Today’s my last day, but I live closeby.”

She nodded with a look that said, ‘nobody’s going to call you, freak.’  I thanked her with a smile and walked out of the office, and back into the office next door, wondering if Michael had gotten to them too.  It wouldn’t surprise me.


Michael didn’t wait for me to approach.  “We need to get your parking pass,” he said it like I was being accused of something, because he refused to look up at me as I was physically handing it to him.  “Oh, it’s right here, okay.”  Stealing a parking pass?  It was a cheap piece of shit I could make in Pages in about five minutes, and it didn’t grant access to anything; it was just a dashboard display so that if someone were to sweep the reserved spaces, which nobody did, they’d know my car belonged there, which wouldn’t benefit me anyway.  I could park in any of the other 500 spaces if I felt like it, nobody monitored the rest of the parking lot, there were so many production crews in and out it was virtually impossible.


I looked around the room as everyone ignored me, double checked I hadn’t left anything at the desk, and said, “Okay, well, I’m off.”

Nobody responded, not even to tell me I forgot to take out the trash.

Halfway to the front door Rebekah called after me.  “Oh, are you leaving?” I turned to look at her but didn’t say anything, which didn’t matter because she was talking to herself anyway.  “Oh, okay, I didn’t know you were leaving, I guremm hmm nummleer rraayulaah…” trailing off with a string of illegible mumbling as only Rebekah could.  She didn’t look up from her computer screen, where she was undoubtedly furiously texting with Michael about how incompetent and unpredictable and maybe even violent I was.  That was all speculation on my part, of course, but they were all deeply engrossed in something super-important at that moment, and they hadn’t had anything else to do, all day.


Before I reached the front door I stopped at Robert’s office to say goodbye, and gave him a hug.  He was nice enough, or at least harnessed enough neutrality to pretend to be nice, so that was mildly refreshing.  As I entered the elevator, finally out of earshot and away from their hovering and sick, cold energy, tears sprung to my eyes, I could feel my shoulders droop, a lump form in my throat and my chest constricting as the sadness came over me.  It wasn’t about leaving the job, that needed to happen; it was that I’d been ostracized from day one.  I’d been humiliated and stomped on and insulted and spoken to like a toddler and humiliated some more, and my send-off was that nobody gave enough of a shit to bother to say goodbye; they would all spin the story a different direction that I was the impossible one.  


Maybe I was; maybe I just didn’t have the intestinal fortitude or the right attitude or something for this industry; and that thought was even more heartbreaking.  When all I wanted was to learn this business, I was being rejected, just like I’d been rejected so many times before by things that I wanted so badly.  Family, bands, relationships.  Kent seemed to be a kindred spirit at first, but maybe he was blowing me off too.  In a way, I wouldn’t have minded that Rebekah and Michael were so cold, but if Kent was just like them that would be the biggest disappointment of all.  It had to be me, something must be wrong with me.  What other explanation was there?  What could I do to fix myself?


That evening I wrote a quick two-liner email to Paul, Hagai, Charity and Roger to say it was nice working with them, and best of luck with the film.  Paul and Hagai were courteous enough to answer with their own two-liners.  Roger and Charity didn’t bother.


There was one line in the script that rang in my ears as I tried to process this.  “The best Plan B is Plan A again.”  Based on the writing, I had to guess that the writer was a whack job so took that into account.  But could it be the best plan?  Maybe it was worth a shot.  The old ‘get back on the horse’ routine.  I couldn’t take another PA job though, it had to be a rung higher that this servitude, but maybe that was my best bet.  Or, better yet, just go straight to producing.  The most valuable knowledge I’m walking away with is that I already know how the job, I just needed someone to let me run with it.  


In the end, two good things came from this.  The first was a hand-made ceramic mug, part of a series of ‘WTF’ mugs with a very cool artsy design and Marc Maron’s face stamped in gold paint, next to three cartoon cat faces, also in gold paint.  I found it stuffed in a top shelf of the kitchen where it had no doubt been hiding for at least a year, dusted it off, drank coffee out of it, and surreptitiously slipped it into my production kit bag.  


The second was an idea for a skit.  I’m shitty at dreaming up comedy sketches but this one had the right elements - minimal cast, minimal art requirements and primarily one set.


MR LES: Welcome to the team, Billy!  So glad you’re on board.

BILLY: Thanks so much, Mr. Les.

MR LES: Oh, you can call me Dick, and I think you’re going to be an essential part of the team!

BILLY: Thank you, Dick!  I can’t wait to get started helping you guys out!  Whatever you need me for, I’m here!  Can’t wait to put this Masters Degree to work!

MR LES: So, just to get you started, I want to make sure the trash gets taken out, every day.

BILLY: Yes sir, Mr. Les!  I mean, yes sir, Dick!

MR LES: The longer you’re with us, I think the more you’re going to love this job!


Moments later…

MR LES: Billy, can you get that trash taken out now?

BILLY: Yes, sir, I’m on it!


Later on…

MR LES: Billy, did you take the trash out?

BILLY: I did, sir!

MR LES: Can you take it out again?  That’d be great.

BILLY: Um, sure, I’ll do it right now!


Still later…

MR LES: Great first day, Billy!  Remember to take the trash out before you leave.


The next morning…

MR LES: Now remember Billy, when the trash gets full, be sure to take it out!

BILLY: I’ll knock that out, sir!  Mr. Les!  I mean Dick!

MR LES: Did you take it out already?

BILLY: I just got here, but I’ll do it right now!

MR LES: Thank you Billy.  Be sure to take it out again later.

BILLY: Ok, sir.


5 minutes later….

GUNT: Hi, I’m Mr. Les’s assistant, Gunther, but everybody calls me Gunt.

BILLY: Hi Gunt!

GUNT: Mr. Les — well, Dick — just wanted me to remind you to take the trash out.

BILLY: I just did!

GUNT: Yeah, maybe take the trash out again.  Dick is pretty specific about taking out the trash.

BILLY: (weirded out) Okay.


5 minutes after that…

MR LES: Was the trash taken out already?

BILLY: Yes, sir!

MR LES: That’s great.  Remember you need to take out the trash later.

BILLY: Just like yesterday.  Got it, sir.

MR LES: That’ll be your job, okay?  I just want to know that you’re taking care of the trash, so I don’t have to worry about it.

BILLY: I’ll take care of it sir!

MR LES: Did you take it yet?

BILLY: I just did sir!

MR LES: Maybe do another round of trash pickup, I think it needs to be taken out again.

BILLY: (puzzled) Okay sir.

MR LES: Call me Dick.  By the way, Gunt has some things for you to work on when you’re done.

BILLY: Yes, sir.


Immediately next…

BILLY: Gunt, did you have something for me?

GUNT: Yes, thanks Billy!  Can you take the trash out please?

BILLY: (over it) Sure.

GUNT: And check with me before you leave, I might have some fun stuff to work on before the end of the day!

BILLY: Great, I’ll do that!


5 minutes later…

MR LES: Did you take the trash out again?

BILLY: (Billy holding two trash bags) I’m doing it right now sir.

MR LES: Just make sure you get that done, Billy.

BILLY: Okay sir.

GUNT: Billy, can you come into my office please?

BILLY: Sure.

GUNT: Billy, I just want to make sure you understand to take the trash out… it’s a big part of your job here.

BILLY: I understand.

GUNT: Well, we need you to smile more when you take out the trash.  I don’t see you smiling enough.

BILLY: (?)


Cut to - MONTAGE:

Billy picks up the phone to hear, “THIS IS AN AUTOMATED REMINDER TO TAKE OUT THE TRASH.”

Billy is presented with a birthday cake that says. “Happy Birthday Billy!  Take out the trash!”

As Billy is peeing, letters in the urinal start to become visible that say “Take out the trash, Billy!”

Billy looks at his calendar, and every day says “Take out the trash!” Over and over.

Phone rings with another automated message.

Billy finishes a cup of coffee and in the bottom of the cup, letters read, “Take out the trash, Billy!”

Mr. Les watching Billy take the trash out on a security monitor, jacking off under his desk.


That’s as far as I got.  It’s a start I guess.  


I talked with Jon for a while, then Holly on the phone for after work, silently but fervently thanking the Universe for the people in my life that were willing to listen to me vent.  It was therapy in a way, just to talk it all out, but I still felt this burning divide in my gut, like maybe I fucked it all up.  Maybe I was too rash and made all the wrong decisions, maybe if I stuck with it, it could lead to a career in the film industry, but I was too chickenshit and conceded to some jerk’s lame agenda instead, because I couldn’t hack it.  


Or, maybe I was just in the wrong company.  Maybe I had to stay in the wrong company for a while to get to the right company.  Maybe maybe maybe, it didn’t matter.  I was wrapped up in the drama of it all and it consumed me.  The last time I’d felt this wrapped up was before my divorce, when I lived in rural Oregon and found myself immersed in all the drama of the white trash back country.  I needed to get away from the people, and my husband wouldn’t leave, so that was the end of us.  Everybody in that stupid town was banging somebody’s wife, or sister, or neighbor, or girlfriend, and rumors were constantly circulating.  Nobody knew what the fuck was true so they just believed everything and told everybody they knew; these people lived this drama 24/7.  I had gotten sucked in and was rapidly losing my fucking mind.


I wasn’t immune to the drama and it ate me alive.  After my divorce I got the fuck outta there and after a while it just, went away.  I learned not to care anymore about all the bullshit that these idiots lived every day.  My ex tried to suck me back in … for no reason except that he just didn’t know any better.  There were conversations when he started to recant how his father’s girlfriend’s step-brother’s nephew was banging the school principal’s cousin and she told him, that someone else told her, that some caseworker was getting complaints from everybody because she thought—and I’d have to to say, “Stop right there… um, I don’t care.  Seriously, I don’t care.”  And that was hard.  It was hard for me to say, ‘I’m better than this.’  But I am!  And I need to own that!


After a long writing session, some positive conversation and good energy, a couple of tequila drivers and a couple classic movies, I was over it.  Things would be fine, it was possibly an exercise in futility but I made a little scratch, I could get through another month, everything else would work itself out.  To date, I’ve never had an experience that didn’t come in useful somehow… whether it was a lesson in how to make things work or a lesson in what not to do, it was always helpful eventually; I just may not see the value in the midst of it all.  I would be over this drama within 24 hours.  It’s gonna be fine, I told myself, and I actually believed it.


Whatever the case, I’m going to sleep in, on a Friday, because I can.  Thank you Universe.

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