Senin, 26 Maret 2012

Movie Minimum Wage

Two weeks ago a casting director asked if I wanted to work a long day as an extra."It's $8 an hour." She sounded apologetic, since the last three gigs had been at AFTRA rates."Put me down. I"m not doing anything." Nimmt geld or take money was one of the first rules of my old boss Manny, plus extra work required no heavy lifting or abusive bosses. I told the casting director, "You can count on me."The evening shoot was located at a private estate out on Long Island. The property had belonged to Guggenheim family. The massive main room was walled with stone. The set was decorated to be a country club dinner. We were not allowed to touch the food. The crew had run electrical wires through the windows, which were ajar to the night air. I was dressed in a double-breasted tuxedo. The women wore gowns and high heels. I was relatively comfortable. They complained about the cold and bitched about their aching feet. There was one bathroom. The queue was twenty deep. I pissed in the garden and then hid in the attic covered by a heavy packing blanket. None of the PAs noticed my absence.The director called it a wrap at dawn. It had been a 12-hour day according to my count. The production head argued that it was ten hours. "We don't count travel time for non-union." He wasn't a prick. He was just doing his job."Suit yourself." I was happy to get out of there. Buses brought the background actors back to the city. I arrived home in Fort Greene at 8pm."How did it go?" AP, my landlord, asked, as I tramped upstairs."Long and cold." They had fed us once in ten hours. "Cruel too, but it will pay some bills."Mam needed money for the water and electrical bills in Sri Racha.I entered my bedroom and dedicated the rest of the morning and some of the afternoon to sleep. A week later the check for that evening's work came in the mail. I opened the envelope and read the amount.$84 and it would have been $64 without the OT."$84," I muttered to myself and pocketed the check. Over four million Americans earn that daily wage of $64. The total for the week comes to about $250-300. The yearly salary is less than half the acceptable poverty rate for the USA and $8/hour is seventy-five cents more than the real minimum wage. I left the house without telling AP about the sum total of my day's efforts. There was no pride in being a wage slave even for a movie and I hoped that it flopped at the box office.I have a black heart about these things.It must come from being Black Irish.Fuck.

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