Monday, November 12, 2012

Job Hunt

The "Starving " part is getting too close to being literal.  I have over a week's worth of food in the apartment although that is mostly grains (aka some ten pounds of dry rice), and little that is attractive for breakfast or lunch (I'm currently soaking beans for a soup that MIGHT be ready by dinner).

So I'm looking for a third job.  Something I can fit in within the show schedule and other ongoing duties I already have.  And it hasn't been going well.  There's probably more design stuff being listed at TBA, but I can't afford the $70 membership to look at their listings.  TBA doesn't quite have the whole Bay Area wrapped up, but listings outside of their umbrella are more rare.  And, somehow, Mall Santa, DP for an independent film, and Egg Donor don't look attractive.

(Actually, Director of Photography is VERY attractive.  Unfortunately, I don't have any training in the field!)

At this point my best bet seems to be stock clerk or bus boy.  For which there is competition; my disadvantages are that I'm older and I have no desire to see it as a growth position.  Plus I've been freelance for almost a decade now so I don't have any current references.  Oh, yes, and I'm broke -- I can't show up in a nice interview suit, can't even afford a hair cut, and it had better be within walking distance because I can't afford gas for the car!

But, really, I'm not quite ready to take that drastic a step.  I have a couple bits of cash -- and work -- coming in this month.  As usual, many of the people I've worked for are playing the "You didn't get a check?  Oh, silly us; we forgot to submit it this month.  Don't worry -- the next fiscal year starts in December and we'll forward your request for payment to disbursements then."  But I do have hope that at least one of them will show up in the next few days.

Five years ago, in a cafe at the Beaubourg (what the locals call the modern art museum in Paris's Pompidou Centre), I decided to take a working sabbatical and get some art work and other things important to me done while I was still young enough for bold moves.  So far the experiment has been mixed; up until the economic slump I was indeed doing a lot of art, and financially I was scraping by.  Since the slump it has translated into less design, more pushing faders, and coming up short to the tune of hundreds of dollars a month.

I'm not -- yet -- willing to give up completely.  So although it might seem sensible to run out and knock on the door of every local restaurant with a sign in the window, it still makes more long-term as well as short term sense to hold off on anything drastic (barring the impossible long odds of a midnight phone call from WETA Workshop!) and instead spend the money and time to try to get some of that design work that is out there as the theater industry slowly gets back into business.

Because not all jobs are equal.  It is entirely possible to go broke while working.  I've got that right now; a 35-hour week tech position that makes so little I can't make rent on it.  And, sure, I could drop that...but forty hours at McDonald's puts me in roughly the same boat, with greater commute costs, and a better chance of getting sick or burnt out and ending up with no work at all.

I don't have any real skills.  Not outside of theater.

And even in theater, what I am is a generalist.  I am extremely experienced at making do, at adapting and adopting.  I am familiar with essentially all of the base technologies, from welding to hand-stitching, and very sensitive to the whole environment of a production; that thing I call "theater sense" that moves beyond "What is the right way to mic this?" to "What is the right way to do it for this production in this space?

I like to learn, I like to teach, I am friendly and personable and kids like me, I can organize and plan and I can create, and I am also ready and willing to get down into the muck to do heavy labor and long hours -- and I'm still fit enough to do that pretty well, too.

What I don't have is breezy familiarity with whatever the cutting edge is this second.  I learn fast and have been learning the entire time I spend in theater, but if I am up against an HR person with a list of specific gear and graduation dates and the emails of my last six employers I am out of luck.

Which is why I have never, to my knowledge, ever gotten a job from a phone call or letter.  In my entire time in theater, they've called me.  Based on networking, based on face time, based on recommendations from friends.

And, well, there's no real loss in not applying for that stock boy job today.  It will still be there tomorrow.  The one thing that hasn't changed is that the only jobs that pay cash on the day of employment do their hiring on the dirt median near the overpass.  Nothing I chose to do will pay for food this weekend.  Nothing but one of those several companies I mentioned getting off their duffs and actually mailing checks out.

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