“You’re a great worker. You’re reliable, independent, finish what you start. I can ask you things and I know they’ll get done. Hell, you’re one of the best followspotters in the business. But socially, you’re a zero.”

We were driving home from one of the toughest jobs this year, my crew chief and I, and having one of our feedback moments, where we go over the events of the day and reflect on them, see what was the cause and effect and perhaps, how we can handle them differently in the future. I like those conversations of ours, because we can share vastly different viewpoints and still often agree on things.

In this case however, he turned the subject of conversation sharply to me personally, as if it was something he had been wanting to say for a while. So abruptly even, that he was halfway through before I even figured what he was on about.

“You just don’t give a shit. You could be sitting next to Schueremans (one of the top managers in Belgian showbiz) with your feet on the dinner table. You pick fights with people above you without even thinking.”

I realized then, why he was getting so worked up about it: That day, some idiot in a monkeysuit had installed his little laptops beside my followspot, leaving me absolutely no place to stand. I didn’t want to get into an argument so I just moved my 100 kilo spot- a little too briskly for the suit. And so, I got my argument anyway. It ended with him warning me in a very vague manner and although it made no impression whatsoever, I was finished talking and simply turned my back on him.
It later turned out to be the owner of the organizing company. I should know their name because I ate 3 packs of their free mints, but I couldn’t be bothered to give a shit.

My crew chief was right, and I hadn’t realized this before: I would treat the president of the UfuckingS no different than my most disliked colleague. As my crew chief explained, people get used to that once they get to know me, but those who don’t might take it as a lack of respect.

I can guarantee however, that this concerns anything but disrespect. Quite the contrary: I give suits exactly the same measure of respect as anyone else, and if my friend gives me shit, I give him shit right back. It’s my right, god damn it.
And yes, after dinner, I like being comfortable and accomplish that by setting a foot on the chair beside mine. If I were with my girlfriend’s parents I might think twice about that, but single as I am, I’m not going to sit upright like a good student every time a cock in a tie wants to sit opposite from me.

This is different if I carry any responsibility, of course. I watch my tongue and demeanor then. But as a stage hand, I am a pig by definition. I’ll wear what I want, sit how I feel like, and speak up if offended. I can also understand why my chief doesn’t like that: He thinks we all represent our company and should work on our reputation as cattle. While I agree, I still can’t be bothered to care. Managers, company politics, CEOs, HR, unions and hierarchy, men in expensive clothes smoking expensive things: If I could only wish them away. I refuse to adjust my behavior if it’s not part of my job.

It goes against my ideals to be a good employee. Being congratulated by my boss always leaves a slightly bittersweet aftertaste, but on the other hand I’m not the kind of person to slack off in whatever I do, so that kind of balances itself out. But showing more respect to some than others just because they have a higher function in a company? Fuck that. Not in this life. Showing competence might give you that, but I’ll still get comfortable around you.


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