Friday, April 17, 2009

Art Imitating (my) life

AKA: a little backstory on how I ended up makin' the copies....

On The Office, which is one of my favorite shows on the air right now, Pam has inexplicably jumped ship from Dunder Mifflin to go work for The Michael Scott Paper Company, a start-up run by her idiotic but oddly endearing boss, Michael Scott. Michael also recruits the egomaniacal dickwad, Ryan, who worked for Dunder Mifflin twice before getting fired and like, prosecuted for fraud or something. Hee. Anyway, the three of them get a ridiculous closet of an office in the basement of the same building which houses Dunder Mifflin, and hilarity ensues as they try to deal with hearing each other's phone conversations, the toilet flush/conversations from the mens' room, sniping DM's client base, etc.

I have lived this scenerio. I was in my mid-20's and working for a small, crappy TV station where I was actually given a lot of responsibility. The station was a joke, but I was able to get great experience directing, technical directing, doing live shoots, live-to-tape, got to meet a lot of the Presidential candidates during the 2000 primaries, and best of all - I loved most of my coworkers. We had a ball, and I've often thought over the years that TV folk are some of the funniest people on the planet. We just laughed so much, and I made some great friends that I'm still close with to this day (you all know Mala, right?).

After two years, some of those cool people started to move on to other jobs because of an impending change of ownership at the station, and I was presented with an opportunity that seemed to be the right thing for me at the time. Essentially, the news director at the station and his buddy, a local politician, had this idea for a, so they went through the station and cherry-picked some talent from the sinking ship. My boss was selected and asked to bring along one "right hand man" kind of person, and he chose me.

In retrospect, I kind of wish I'd just stayed behind and taken his job at the station, which I'm sure I could have gotten. As it turned out, I did get his job a few years later, but I'll get to that in a minute.

So, much like Pam, I found myself in the truck bay of the TV station, working side by side with many of the people from the station whom I liked the least. We're talkin' real assholes, here. One of them was the husband of this one moronic coworker of mine with whom I did not get along, so now I was forced to make nicey nice with her disgusting, gun-carrying, pinky ring-wearing, unibrow-sporting asshole husband on a daily basis. All of the upper management guys were complete shits, too.

We did eventually get the company off the ground. What we did was produce streaming media for corporate clients; both live webcasts and taped/edited presentations with all their slides, info. tabs, etc. It was actually kind of cutting edge back then, but these days any schlub can do them. The live webcasts were my specialty, which meant I was humping heavy-ass equipment all over the place on a weekly basis. I used to fly to DC almost weekly, and was in Boston several times a week to work for John Hancock and Putnam, two firms that were/are big into live webcasts for internal use. I even had to go do some work for Miller Beer, which meant a couple of oh-so-exciting trips to Milwaukee (or as the Native Americans call it, "Milla-wauk-ay"). ;)

Anyway, my point is, we put blood, sweat, and tears into that company and made it into something worthwhile. AND THEN... duhn duhn duuuuuhn... THE BOBS came. Literally. Essentially, the two jerkoffs who started the company decided it was too much work to run it, so they hired these two guys from Avid to come run the place. At first, it was great. They revamped a lot of stuff, restructured, got rid of some cling-ons. Then, things got bad.

They decided my boss & mentor was making too much money, so they laid him off and gave me his job. That was awkward, to say the least, and I've always felt horrible that we were put in that position. I worked with that guy for 5 years (2 at the station, 3 at the and we were friends. It really, really sucked.

Then things sucked even worse.... I did great as Production Manager and ran the department really well, if I do say so myself. One of the Bobs actually told me once that I was "a born leader with upper management potential." Hellloooo, Office Space. But about a year into my new position I got pregnant with my first child, and The Bobs started acting strangely. It became clear that they were developing a pattern with young women in the office who found themselves "in the family way." One by one, all of the women in our company who got pregnant found themselves laid off 6 weeks after returning to work after their maternity leaves. There were 3 of them, and then it happened to me, too, thereby effectively ending my video production career path.

After all of that, I was just too freaking tired to go back and start over. I thought about going back to TV, but with a new baby... the hours and the pay kinda suck, and I just didn't think it was the right place for me anymore. I wanted a job where I didn't have to think a whole lot, where I could just log my hours and be with my family and not travel or think about work when I wasn't there. And boy, did I ever get it. Be careful what you wish for.

But I miss thinking on my feet, and I miss live TV. A lot.

So, watch out, Pammy. I've been where you are, and it doesn't end well.


Samsmama said...

My ex worked at one of the local news stations. Paid terribly and the anchors were rude as shit. It bothers me to no end that I can't watch that stations news and not think of him bitching about everybody.

If you ever get back into the tv industry, you totally need to do the weather. I can picture it.

laurieliz said...

First of all, I LOOOOOOVE the Office too and it is very my favorite show! I am liking this new little twist. It is super funny and also so realistic. I mean, how many of us have had a boss leave and our whole office heirarchy change up? I have gone from having a job I loved to entering work each day like I was going to be tortured at Guantanamo. My boss got a killer deal and left the company. His "replacement" was a micro-managing idiot that would secretly listen in while you were making your calls! I hated that woman so much! It was so bad that I had to boost myself each morning by playing I GET KNOCKED DOWN by Chumbawamba, essentially doubling the torture.

Bev said...

Samsmama - Yes, the anchors had their moments. Most of them are a wee bit pleased with themselves, I've found. Must be those hot lights combined with all the hair product seeping into their little brains.

I'd love to do the weather, except, nowadays most stations want actual meteorologists and shit. Jerks.

Laurie - totally! I know you've got some killer work stories that put mine to shame! That one in particular.... (!)

laurieliz said...

You're not talkin, about Master Bator are you? LOL

jessica o said...

Bev, I was with a video production company in Dallas for 3 years. I left after having Lily. The company didn't survive de-mystified Final Cut Pro. Sad.

Bev said...

Laurie - of course I am!

J-LO (heh) - awww, that is sad. What did you do for them?

Looking back on it, I should have stayed at my very first station out of college. Sure, I'd still be making minimum wage, but think of how fulfilled I'd be as Prod. Mgr. of an itty bitty ABC affiliate in Vermont! Oh, wait... on second thought.... ;)

Mala said...

GASP! Don't ever say you should have stayed at W-oh-whatsitmacallit! NO! Then we would never have met! Double gasp!
Those were some good days, even though they often sucked!
Every once in a while I wonder if I miss it. I don't think I do. I miss film sets... something new every day. But I DO miss hangin' with the Bev daily. *sigh*

Cary said...

Ha, Bev, I didn't know you worked in TV. I'm still in TV. You aren't missing anything. It's the devil's business. The story you describe -- I've seen it happen 100 times. And yet, here I am, hack hack hackin' on hackin's door.

Avid's days are numbered. Everyone wants FCP now, which I am slowly trying to learn. I've been doing Avid for years but it's going the way of 1" tape. Must suck to have a corner on the market for years and then get upended.

Bev said...

Cary, that definitely would suck. I haven't tried FCP in YEARS but never found it to be as intuitive as Avid, so it must be a treat to have to learn it now. I actually love Avid, so I'd be reluctant to switch, too.

Hack hack hackin... good on ye. I just don't have the heart for it, but who knows how I'll feel in another couple of years, when the kiddos are older? Maybe I'll actually feel like working at a station again.... Naaah, prob'ly not! But, I never say never.