Friday, February 17, 2012

Why Did She Need so Many Roses?

The other day I was accosted at Walmart.

The directors of The Music Man wanted confetti to be launched from the catwalk during the curtain call.  The two high schoolers in charge of props had acquired both confetti and confetti cannons.  The only thing they were missing were the CO2 cartridges.  After a bit of quick, poor research, I was sent to Walmart to buy the cartridges.

They didn’t fit.

The CO2 cartridges I purchased from Walmart were too small to fit in the confetti cannons.  I had to take them back.

I returned to Walmart the next afternoon.  I had ten minutes before I had to leave for work; but I figured I could be in and out in no time.  I was wrong.

I placed the cartridges on the customer service desk and presented my receipt, trying to be as pleasant and positive as I could.  The woman behind the counter picked up the box and informed me that I could not return them.

Me:  “What?”

Employee 1:  “You can’t return these.  These are BBs.”

Me:  “No, no, no.  These aren’t BBs, they’re CO2 cartridges.”

Employee 1:  “No, these are ammo.  We can’t take them back.  It’s Walmart policy.”

After a few more minutes of this, the employee finally sent me to speak to the person in charge of all of the cash registers.  You know, the person who stands at their own small register in the front of the store, watching over all of the self-checkouts like a hawk.  I approached the woman, doing my best to hide my frustration.  I had two minutes before I had to leave.

Me:  “Hi, I was just trying to return these CO2 cartridges.”

Employee 2:  “You can’t return those.  Those are ammo.”

Me:  “These aren’t ammo.  They’re CO2 cartridges.  You can see they haven’t been used.”

Employee 2:  “No we can’t.”

Me:  “But, why can’t you?”

Employee 2:  “It’s Walmart policy.  We can’t take back ammo.”

This is where the trouble started.

A nearby woman, with an incredible amount of attitude, had overheard our conversation.  She whipped around.

The first thing I noticed was her cart.  It was full of chocolate roses.  I don’t mean she had three or four roses, I mean full.  There were at least sixty roses in her cart, if not more.

The second thing I noticed was her sass.

She immediately threw herself right into the middle of my conversation.

Sassy Woman:  “What do you mean he can’t return those?”

Employee 2:  “He can’t return them.  It’s store policy.”

Sassy Woman:  “But you all told him that those would work with his product.  If y’all told him that and then they didn’t work you’re at fault, aren’t ya?”

I had never met this woman before.  I hadn’t told her anything about my situation.  How she came to the conclusion that Walmart had lied to me I have no idea.

Employee 2:  “No, that’s not our… what?”

Sassy Woman:  “If you sold him the wrong product, you need to take it back.”

Employee 2:  “We can’t.”

Sassy Woman:  “Oh, you can’t?  I once bought a 2008 Camaro and returned it two years later for all of my money back.  I can return anything.”

I was so confused.  Who was this woman?  Apparently she returned a Camaro.  She was very proud of herself.

Sassy Woman:  “I want to speak to your manager.”

At this point, the second employee took us back to the customer service desk.  The Queen-of-Returns had taken control of my problem and I was starting to freak out.  At the customer service desk a third employee informed us that the manager was not in today.  This was not the right thing to say.

Sassy Woman:  “What do you mean she’s not here!?!”

The employee quickly apologized and offered to get the assistant manager.  She ran off and we were left under the supervision of yet another employee.

The sassy woman continued to shout about Camaros, returns, ammunition, and justice.  I continued to grow more and more uncomfortable.

The fourth employee watched us worriedly, glancing at his walkie-talkie from time to time, looking like he was contemplating calling for back up.  I knew I was in trouble.  Somehow this whole situation had gotten out of my control.  And on top of it all, I was late for work.  I panicked.

I started trying to get the employee’s attention.  I tried to catch his eye in the hopes that he would understand that I was just as uncomfortable as he was, that I had never met this woman before in my life, and that I had no clue what a Camaro had to do with anything.

I must have looked like an idiot, but it worked.

I finally caught his eye and he nodded at me.  He cleared his throat and pointed at me.

Employee 4:  “All right.  When the assistant manager comes, do you want to talk,”

He moved his finger to 2008 Camaro Woman.

Employee 4:  “or do you want her to talk?”

My hand shot into the air.

Me:  “I want to talk!”

I turned to the sassy woman and told I appreciated all the trouble she had gone through, but I thought I would be fine.  She told me, "all right," and wandered out of the store with her load of chocolate roses, still mumbling about her Camaro.

The fourth employee took me to the back of the store to find the assistant manager.

The assistant manager was standing near one of those discount movie bins with a really tall Walmart employee.  She took the CO2 cartridges from me.

Assistant Manager:  “CO2 cartridges.  Are these ammo?”

Very Tall Employee:  “Nope.”

Assistant Manager:  “Take ‘em back.”

That was it.  All of that trouble at the front of the store and the assistant manager cleared up the whole situation in six seconds.  Why didn’t we go to her first?

The fourth employee, who had guarded me earlier, escorted me back to the front of the store.  On the way he started talking to me.

Employee 4:  “We didn’t want any trouble.  We didn’t want to call the cops, but we would have called the cops.  You need to be careful when dealing with people.  You could have been in a lot of trouble.”

I wanted to explain that I didn’t want any trouble either, that I was sorry, and that I had never seen that super sassy woman before, but I didn’t know how.

They refunded my money for the CO2 cartridges and sent me on my way.

I was half an hour late for work.

I can never go to that Walmart again.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Graveyards are Probably More Accurate than Cars

I hate projections.

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen them, but some productions, in an attempt to make everything more “magical,” will add projections to the performance.  I have never cared for them.  I think they’re distracting and often have little to do with the play itself.  So, imagine my joy when I was recently assigned to create my own set of projections.

As I mentioned before, I am currently working on a middle school production of The Music Man.  The other day one of the directors came up to me and explained that she wanted photographs from the early 1900s to appear during certain numbers.  Easy enough to do with the internet.  She also wanted time stamps to appear periodically throughout the play, typed in an old-timey font.  I can type, I can pick a font, no trouble.  Finally, she wanted footage from a moving train.  There was the problem.

The director wanted footage that showed the landscape passing by as if the audience were looking out the window of a train.  I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but even with the world wide web, there are very few videos like this in existence.  I decided I needed to film my own

At 4:00 in the afternoon, my friend and I climbed into my minivan.  I was going to drive.  She was going to film.  We were going to do this.

The Music Man takes place in the Midwest.  There aren’t many places in Northern Virginia that resemble the plains and fields we needed for the film.  So, we drove to the only place I could think of that was relatively close and looked slightly Midwestern.  Manassas.

We got to Manassas without any trouble.  She filmed while I crept along a stretch of highway with my warning lights flashing.  We took several interesting shots and decided to call a day.  Unfortunately, we had no clue where we were.  We were lost.

I drove around looking for something that looked remotely familiar, while my camerawoman turned navigator scrambled through a map book, trying to figure out where in the world we had gone.  I saw nothing familiar.  She couldn’t find our road on any map.  We were getting desperate.
We started to call people for help (thank goodness for cell phones) and we were directed back to the school.  We finally got back at 6:30.  We had gotten all of the footage we needed in 45 minutes.  We had been lost in Manassas for almost two hours.

But, we didn’t let this setback stop us.  After a quick dinner we formatted the videos and continued working on the projections.  For the next day and a half, all we focused on was finishing these projections.  Towards the end of the second day we finished.  They were beautiful.  Especially the train videos.

Well, they're beautiful if you don't turn on your sound...

We were so incredibly proud.  These projections were wonderful.  They were our pride and joy, our baby (as they were the result of over twenty hours of labor).  I set them up and prepared to show them to the directors, during our next run of the show.  I did and they worked perfectly.  I was ecstatic.  They flowed well, they were relevant, and they worked exactly as they were intended.

After the show I was beaming, bursting with pride.  Then, one of the directors came up to me.  I sat up, ready for my compliment I knew I deserved.  She told me she didn’t like them.

I was devastated.  Apparently my masterpiece was too distracting and they would have to rethink using them.  Twenty hours of work down the drain.

I hate projections.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Is it Real?

The other day I found a dead bat in a sink.

I am currently working on a middle school production of The Music Man.  Basically my job is to keep all of the high school technicians in line while acting as the two directors' gofer.

A few days ago, I was working on figuring out how to fly-in windows, when I saw a group of middle schoolers crowded around the paint sink located backstage.  The middle schoolers were all staring into the sink saying things like, "Is it real?" and, "Don't touch it!"  So, obviously, I went to investigate.

The backstage paint sink is disgusting.  I don't mean gross, I mean disgusting.  I try to avoid it whenever I can.  It is coated in at least an inch of dried paint, making it look more like modern art than modern plumbing.  It Is always clogged and there is always a pool of stagnant water sitting in the bottom.  Honestly, I'm shocked none of us have gotten malaria yet.

So, in spite of my disgust, I went over to the sink and looked in.  Inside was what looked like a toy mouse, or a bat missing its wings.  It was a bat.  The kids began explaining that they were trying to figure out whether it was a real bat or not.  I leaned in for a closer look.  I smelled death.

At this point, one particularly eager eighth grader offered to pick up the bat to see if it was real.  I quickly told him no and sent a member of run crew to get me paper towels.

Lots of paper towels.

After I had gotten the towels I picked up the bat with them.  I was still unsure as to whether or not it was real, until I noticed the tiny claws, miniature teeth, and the wings folded up neatly beneath it.  It would have been adorable had it not been decomposing as I held it.

Even if it wasn't adorable, it was pretty cool.  I was holding a real bat in my hands.  Well, I was holding a real paper towel in my hand which was holding a real bat.  I had to show it off.  I ran around the theater showing everyone the awesome thing we had found backstage.

Unfortunately, not everyone is as big a fan of dead bats as I am, including the directors.  So, I was kicked out in order to find a place to dispose of the bat.  I was first tempted to just throw it away in one of the school's trash cans; but I realized that that would not be a fitting burial for this little life.  Plus, it would probably continue to smell and shouldn't stay inside.

So, I took it outside and thought about burying it.  But, it was cold and I didn't want to dig a hole.  So, I did the only thing that seemed reasonable.  I hid it.  I hid the bat outside.  I hid the bat so that one day I will have a little tiny bat skeleton.  Or a dog will eat it.  Either way, it seemed more fitting than leaving it in a paint soaked sink.