Politically incorrect. Probably. But as they say, “the opera aint over til’ the fat lady sings” and she’s just now taken the stage. Tomorrow, May 10 is my last shoot day in this production package. “12-2” as it’s known within the world of Armed Forces Radio and Television, wraps tomorrow and with it, my tenure at Film House. Almost 11 years in one place, that’s a record for me by any stretch. After the last post glaringly missed the mark, I’ll dispense with the ambiguity here.
As you know, about a month ago I went to my boss and told him I was leaving. I told him about the need for a change and a new energy. I told him I wasn’t happy and needed to blow a hole in my current situation and seek greener pastures. He told me he admired my boldness. Said, “I’m not saying you’re not crazy as shit and I’m not saying it’s not a horrible idea. I am saying, you’ve got guts and at least you’re doing something about your situation, unlike most of us who are locked into our situations and not so free to do so.” Others weren’t so kind and most told me I was stupid for quitting a job in “this economy”. They marveled at the fact that I sold the house and with it most of my stuff. They were absolutely suspect at my coercing Melody into a “vagabond” lifestyle aboard, of all things, a freaking sailboat. I was a complete idiot!
Well, last week we all received an email from my boss… yes, that boss… all hands on deck meeting in the conference room. 11:00 am. Everyone now speculating and fearing the worst. See that’s what has been happening over the past three years over there. We receive an email and shortly thereafter, bad things happen. Pay cuts. Insurance revisions. Lay-offs. We were conditioned.
11:oo am: Everyone seated around a large, very large conference room table. Everyone quiet, worried. My boss came in and I knew right away, it was bad. He said, “I’m just going to cut to the chase. The 12 series is the last series… the DoD is pulling the contract, effective October. There’s no funding. I’m sorry.” BOOM. The breath sucked, slowly out of the entire room. Even mine. I no longer had a dog in the hunt and I knew this was coming… that’s why I was leaving. That’s why I sold the house… but it wasn’t supposed to come now. Not with me there to see it. It’s been a difficult year thus far with the loss of some dear friends. Young, vibrant friends and now I was witness to death that day too. Having to make those calls to wives, girlfriends and mothers. Telling the kids. Not telling the kids.
A couple people came to my office afterwards and said things like, “you look like the smartest man in the world right now” and “you must be happy, huh?” No. I’m not happy one bit. A lot of people I love will be hurt. Really hurt. Smart? No… lucky. For the first time in a long time, I trusted my gut and it happened to work out. Had we not sold the house a month before, I would be scrambling just like everyone else. This journey of ours would be dead. Cold and dead. I’d be wondering, why I didn’t trust my gut and see the writing on the wall. I’d be kicking myself for not doing it sooner and being caught behind the eight-ball. Oh, I’m terrified alright. But Mel and I have a deal now, we have a saying, “scratch out terrified, write in adventure.” It helps to change the dynamic and almost makes me feel a little better.
The point? Wake up tomorrow and know that you aren’t guaranteed anything. Be grateful if you’re financially secure. Be grateful if you still have your parents around. Be grateful if you have your health. Be grateful if you go to a job you like. Pay it forward. And… if you’re clicking along, gritting your teeth and wishing things were different take heed, they could be very different tomorrow… in more ways than one.
I’m feeling a bit melancholy tonight. I hesitated to write. Several “serious” blogs in a row tend to belabor the story. Bog it down in overly sentimental drivel. That’s not what I want to do. But this is a story about a journey and a large portion of one journey is ending tomorrow. That deserves inspection. Reflection. In production you spend more time with your crew than with your family. Actually… they are my family. And now, I guess we all have to push back from the table, shut up and listen. Sing fat lady. Sing.