Let's call today: 'Sunday, 14 December 2008'
wrote in the notebook:
I had 2 shoots scheduled yesterday. In the morning, it was a rehearsal shoot.
It all went smoothly. They only take about an hour and a half and other than some tweens giggling at me behind their hands at the fact that I was sweating (Running around in a decked out shed trying to capture you being young and cute in 40 degree heat isn't exactly a swim in the lake, kid. That and you're wearing considerably less than me in your skimpy leotard that may possibly work better if you had actually reached puberty and had breasts and curves. Yes mine are sweating, but at least I have them. And knock knock, it's the middle of summer moron.) it was fine.
We had a small break in between finishing the rehearsal shoot and driving 2 hours South into the Highlands to film a concert shoot. I used to it to locate the school I was due to arrive at by no later than 6pm, printed off directions, and headed off.
I had been expecting to be paid most of this week, and had reminded Maz that I'd really need it before the weekend so it would clear in my bank and be ready to use. Alas, for whatever reason, when my fuel light came on and I pulled into a service station one hour from my destination - my balance still read $1.98.
I had been told from the start that my first port of call for any problems re: shoots was the woman I was technically contracted through, Vanessa. So, even though I knew another crew was relatively in the area, I dialled her number first.
We tried giving the station her credit card number.
No it has to physically go through the machine.
We asked if there was a way I could get fuel and leave my girlfriend behind and wait for "Timothy" (as we've named Maz's girlfriend and my flatmate for the time being) to come and pay for it, then ferry my girlfriend back to me at the shoot.
No, its pay with real money or no fuel for you.
Are there hire cars available?
No, we're just a backwater service station.
Vanessa said she thought there was something where you filled in a form with your credit card details and then left your credit with them after you fill up and go to wherever you're going; coming back to pay for it and/or pick up your card. She asked me to hand the woman at the counter my phone as she felt she could explain it better, since I had no idea of to what she referred.
Oblivious but hopeful, I handed the bewildered woman my phone. Stood there like a dork, and waited to hear what I knew was coming: A negative response, and the words 'company policy' flung around the place. I don't blame the worker, she was just a drone like me.
At this point I walked across the street to the independent station, figuring the little guy would be more helpful than the corporate beast, but alas again. I don't think the guy even understood me. He was obviously a guest in our country, and was more occupied with telling me to wait because he had to use the toilet... and then serving 3 other people after me. After a few minutes I started to eek out the stress building up within. "Look, can you at least just answer my question? All I want is an answer!... No?.. Fine, thankyou!"
Around this point, Vanessa had called 'Timothy' and I think Dave from the other crew, preparing for a shoot soon themselves.
Within minutes my phone was a whirlpool of texts and calls from up to 4 people, all trying to work out ways around this:
Can someone pick me up? Could we taxi it? If they pay at a same-company service station there can it count as payment here? Does anyone know anyone close by to come to my rescue? Dave's dad lives around here, is he free?
You know, confusing but helpful.
Then Mark called me. His suggestions were thrown into the mix for a while.
Let me pause here to point out who Mark is.
Mark is the former CEO of whatever production company Maz worked for when he came out here. Mark is also the producer of some of Timothy's current assignments. Mark is also the husband of the person I'm calling my present boss, Vanessa.
I'm guessing that, in an attempt to get other suggestions for help, Vanessa called him in on the events. Either way, regardless of how he got involved, this is how it panned out:
Mark suggested that he pay the local station $50 and then call the station I was stranded at to tell them to let me buy fuel. In the back of my head I was pretty certain they wouldn't allow that, but as I was running out of not only options but time, I asked. The woman at the counter said no, as I suspected.
Mark demanded to let him talk to her. I felt like an absolute fool once again handing over my phone, growing increasingly hot (and flat) from use, and watched the woman dodging Mark's haranguing with embarassment.
When I glued the phone back to my ear, I heard Mark saying (supposedly to someone else... me? Vanessa to the side? His foot?) that she doesn't understand what he's saying. At first I thought he meant the counter woman, but retrospect makes me wonder now.
Now Mark turned to me. His attempt at playing the white knight had failed, so it was time to switch tactics. Mark barked at me like a watchdog down the line.
He listed off that I must get to this shoot no matter what, and that if I don't they lose literally thousands of dollars and "it will be on your head".
Great, I've a bounty, I thought.
I tried, calmly to explain that I understood the repercussions of missing the shoot, but that I wasn't agreeing with him that the finger be pointed solely at me. While I wasn't trying to get Maz in trouble, I was trying outline that without having been paid by him, how was I to know there would be no money waiting for me when I needed it. After all, my first assignments were a week ago, and as far as I knew people were getting paid.
However, I didn't get nearly this far in this venture. Mark silenced me telling me not to try and pin it on others, that I could try to blame whoever I wanted but at the end of the day, this was all my fault.
Now, first of all. I fucking know that. Yeah I should have double checked that I had enough to get by, that when my bills to be paid had gone through debiting that I'd have enough for fuel. But I didn't. Know why? Cos I was told I'd have the money, and stupid me trusted that that was going to happen.
At this point I was already forming the sentence in the back of my mind: "Fuck you then, I'll just sit here until someone can come and lend me money and then I'll turn right around back to Sydney, collect my things, and keep driving 'til I reach Adelaide again."
Whilst the scared and miserable child in me welcomed that solution, the responsible adult in me knew it would all fall down to Maz and 'Timothy':
They had brought me in.
They had recommended me.
They would have to finish the work I'd leave behind.
And worst yet, they'd be let down by me too.
If I was working for/with people I didn't give a fuck about. Things probably would have turned out different. And I'd have embraced the coward in me, tucked tail, and probably be halfway home by now. But these were my friends and I love them too much.
Interrupting this split-second-micro-thought-process, Mark suggested that the other option I have is to put fuel in my tank and then just leave.
I kept waiting for him to laugh after.
"You want me to steal fuel???"
"Don't worry, I'll fix it up Vicki..."
"How??? I am NOT doing that! I am NOT breaking the law for this. I will NOT..."
Mark broke in with a verbal shrug of the shoulders, a phrase that I don't exactly remember because at this point I was beginning to break, but the general feeling was 'Well I'm out of ideas, fix it, you're due in *place name* at 6pm'.
Only too lucky for the interlude, I saw that Dave from the other crew was calling on the other line and I blew Mark off to answer it.
Dave said that he had a mate in the area who'll come and bail me. He said he'll call back in a few minutes to make sure.
I slumped into the seat by the window and tears let go of their hold on my eyes. My girl put her arms around me as I started hyperventilating, repeating "He wanted me to STEAL fuel! He told me to do a drive off! He said to steal it!"
My girlfriend offered to call 'Timothy' for me and we filled her in. Well, she filled her in, and I piped in from the background, in tears and utterly mortified at the man so unconcerned with me that he was willing for me to put a permanent black streak on my record for his money.
I felt like a pawn. Fuck his thousands of dollars! My heart was screaming. You can't fucking ask me to do that!
She hit the loudspeaker and her and 'Timothy' helped calm me down. She said everything would be alright and I remember feeling that despite everything, I did feel better knowing that she didn't care what happened and was just concerned for me.
I guess after that first hit, I needed to know that someone outside the situation, someone other than my girl, who was here in this with me, did give a fuck after all.
To wrap this up, Dave's mate and his girlfriend, shit I forget their names now I was so flustered - I must find out again and get them a thankyou - flew in and saved me. Even offering to get me a drink - my face was a dead giveaway that I was upset and had been crying- but I felt too ashamed and still slightly in shock to bathe in their kindness too long. I pulled myself together, thanked them profusely, and shot down the road... taking great care not to run red lights or to speed, reminding my promise to Mark and to myself that this was not worth getting into trouble over.
Vanessa called the concert and fed them a cock and bull story about why we were late - or rather that we were replacing another crew who were on their way and ran into a spot of bother of their own. Then came 45mins of calling the venue and trying to find exactly where it was. Once the phone was answered by what I assumed to be student, male, of about 16-17 who advised me to just take the exit from the highway and it'll bring me into the town and its just there....
"Thanks for your help.... (hang up) GET OFF THE PHONE YOU INFANT!!"
After calling again, I eventually was flagged down and my car escorted right up to the door.
From there we threw equipment and the outstretched hands, ready to help, and raced into position.
By this time the crowd had been waiting 45mins for the show to start, and we shot tripods and cameras together like the wind.
When the house lights flashed and came down, the relieved crowd cheered, and we hit record and I took my position by the pan-arm. I messaged Vanessa as she requested: "We're rolling."
Her reply: :)
The stage lights came up, the crowd applauded, the music started, the dancers entered....
...and then everything went black.
The stage. The house. The box. The cameras. Everything.
A voice from the box spoke behind me, "Power is 'out'."
Yes, a tree had come down on power lines and half the town's electricity was interrupted.
Skip to the end...
The show was cancelled. Authorities on the scene estimated a 3 hour wait until the power was back on track.
We drove home, a wasted and worn out pair, to icecream and tequila shots that 'Timothy' had supplied.
Subdued for the evening we watched TV. I announced that I wasn't doing ANY work that night. The computer remained untouched, by me at least.
I staggered into bed sometime later, wrapped up in my blankeys, and let the river spill out.
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