04.26.12: the dirty dozen {twelve people you will meet via the film festival volunteer crew}

01 the proud mother of a girl starring in one of the documentaries
02 the substitute teacher from queens who applies hand sanitizer to the bottom of her purse
03 the actress who talks the concessions staff into giving her six bags of popcorn
04 the twenty-year-old harmony korine aficionado
05 the sales rep training for his first ironman who scorns beer in green bottles
06 the tentative foreigner who's signed up for every shift in hopes of getting an unpaid internship
07 the film critic who relishes the electronic ticket-scanning process ("i'm getting screened! it's pretty hot!")
08 the music-magazine production assistant who loves thousand-year eggs
09 the middle-aged englishman who refuses comp tickets because he doesn't like movies
10-12 the trio of winsome undergrads who eat dinner three times each night*

it was half past eleven when i crossed houston on the way home from my last shift in the village last night. my feet were busted from four hours of pacing around a basement theater, but i was glad to be outside and moving; i like being in the mix when the lower east side wakes up on a weeknight. the folks in the mostly-empty bars you pass are locals, no one's in a hurry to be anywhere, and there's time and room to peer down alleys and get lost in window displays.

i volunteered for the screenings crew because i wanted to carry film. they needed some people to move reels from theater to theater, they said, some people who could handle twenty-five pounds or so. why, sure!** i've never touched film, but i feel strongly about it, and i figured it was about time. i learned (too late!) that the transporters are expected to have cars, so i still haven't touched film; i spent each of my three shifts scanning tickets and badges, handing out and taking in audience ballots, pointing out bathrooms, and so on. at one point i separated a bunch of buckets. deeply glamorous stuff.

we've talked before about how i assign personalities and roles to fellow subway riders, yes? i run through what i think would go down if i were to be stranded in an underground tunnel with the smatterings of people around me as i commute. i'm not especially worried about that actually happening, really, but i like to imagine what i'd learn if we got stuck together somewhere. (welcome to the milquetoast world of introvert kink. episode i: conversation against one's will!). it turns out that screenings crew shifts are a lot like being stuck in a subway car: i had a lot of really long talks with the sorts of people whose stories i invent in the five minutes we share on some platform underneath broadway. they're enthusiasts, these people - not just film enthusiasts, though there were plenty of those, but all sorts. many attended festival screenings for a few years and decided they wanted in. others were peoplewatchers who gave away the vouchers we received after each shift - they were there for the connections, not the freebies. i thought i was there to do grunt work, but i was there for some of all of it: whipping around the venues like a rat between train tracks, trading calling cards (mine) and pocket-size head shots (theirs) with starry-eyed theatre students, arguing about directors and pizza parlors and boroughs with a bunch of strangers too tired to stand up straight when the last show of the night let out. tossing the invented backstories i no longer needed on my way out the door, limping down third avenue on busted feet.

*don't believe the porn, internets: what college gals want is to eat fried eggs and ice cream all night long.

**i love carrying stuff. i'm the queen of helping folks move.


anonymous said...

You mean Huis Close?

kidchamp said...

it's kind of the opposite, i guess - "hell is other people (who have the option of judging you and leaving)." i shrink and hide at, like, parties and big professional meetings, but trap me on a transcontinental flight with you and i'll become your best friend. 

rachel (heart of light) said...

Pedestrian prejudice! I'm sure that you could manage just as well walking as others can driving.