Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hi Diddly-Dee, a TEAMSTERS Life For Me!

It's just shy of 5 a.m. and the sun is teasing out from behind a cloud so thick and fraught with cold that I swear you could take a pick ax to the son-of-a-bitch and hack down a big 'ol piece of it.  There are hundreds of cars circling through the parking lot in Sykesville, MD, past the American Legion Post, #223. These are the weary yet excited travelers on set for a cold, cold day at a police barracks/training facility for firearms on a several hour shoot which will yield but a few moments of screen time for a scene on the fabulous HBO TV programme VEEP. (Now I spell programme as a homage to the very talented director Chris Addison whom I visualize working with one day in a capacity other than Marine SGT # 103, but until then I am blessed)

After signing in, getting wardrobe and going to makeup, you are transported everywhere in these big vans (usually white with several rows of bench seats, although sometimes they are state of the art, cushy almost limousine quality vehicles) by the few, the proud, the teamsters.

Teamsters... the IBOT #399 represents the motion picture and theatrical trade teamsters.  This union represents workers in the motion picture industry, including firms that produce feature films, television programs, commercials, and live theatrical productions. - taken from website

Teamsters have been around on film sets since the 30's.

During our stay on the barracks near this place..
by the way...
Julia has a lot of funny pictures from the series up there and she is just as nice and funny and classy as you would imagine, saying hello to us all and even complaining about the cold with us.

My teamster...
After about the 3rd hour, people didn't want to walk as far back between takes and opted for the warming stations which were (in my opinion) stinky, moist and overcrowded. I bonked my head trying to put my big old noggin in the front of a jeep to get respite from the bitch biting cold and thought temporarily I was going to concuss. so, aside from a drooling, snoring extra in the back, we had the place to ourselves.

Anyways we began to chat.

He started off as a chemical engineer, inventing new scents and flavors. He was happily engaged to his now wife and applied for work at a local limo company to gain a discount for the wedding. He was so good at his job, they promoted him to manager and he ended up staying on and quitting the science.  He spoke of celebrity, fame, protection of stars and business folk, the wedding, and moving on. To become a teamster you have to earn your way. There are two teams the A team (not like the TV show) and the B team. as you progress, not only should you be prepared for gentle and not so gentle ribbing and practical joke playing, but  the shittier of jobs, the more heinous of hours and just doing whatever, whenever, however and then some.

I listened on the walkies for hours as the "sters" ribbed  chided, poked fun at each other, as the ones with seniority were given the first go at meal and the others gratefully taking up the slack.  You must be able to drive several types of vehicles, be punctual, have a strong personality (and big in size don't hurt either, remember you are protecting people) and drive with stealth speed and on the head of a dime.

I watched on another set where an extra was trying to "get in good" and had the audacity to ask what the "sters" race was.. REALLY??? It was met with a chilly yet truthful reply. This "ster" who by the was is Native American, and build like a marble mountain. And very handsome. He told our van about how he knows several people who are now in wheelchairs or worse as a result of texting while driving and how stupid it was.

I finished my time on set and opted to walk back to holding even in the frigid air, but before I did I made sure to thank my "ster" for letting me know a little about his job, his life and his insights, so that I can pass it on to some of the kids I work with who do not believe that they are entitled to a good life, that there are any other options besides gang banging, baby having and drug dealing, and hopefully offering a career path actually paths (chemical engineer, limo driver, or teamster) for them to look at.

"as long as you focus and never give up, there isn't anything that you can't do" my "ster" 2013 on set of VEEP