Way back when we were wee young things (as opposed to being old young things now), Chris and I lived with odd schedules. I worked a regular 8-5 job, but his schedule in college and grad school was always weird. But, we were wee young things and so we did what we had to do to work around it.
Have I ever told you about Chris’ job? He’s explained it once or twice in the Man Cave (remember that place, Chris?) but in case you missed it, I’ll recap it for you in layman’s terms. You know when you look at a stage and there’s all that scenery and stuff up there? Well, let me tell you how it got there. A person called a scene designer reads a play and then they draw a real pretty picture of what they want the stage to look like. That drawing is then given to the technical director who figures out how to make that drawing become real. This is what Chris did in college. He took pretty pictures and figured out how to make them real.
When he got to Yale, he learned how to take a picture of something that moves on stage – say a building that falls down or a car that flies over the audience – and build that. When you’re working with anything that moves, it’s called automation. So, Chris learned how to build automation for theater. But that was only half of his program. The other half of his program taught him how to manage the people who drew the pictures and built the scenery and made things move. That person who manages all of that is called the production manager, and that’s what Chris’ job is now.
Now, Chris sits in a big plushy office all day figuring out budgets and personnel issues and safety hazards and paychecks. But before all of that fancy stuff, he was a worker bee. He was the guy who actually put hammer to nail and built the sets. But building those sets comes with odd working hours because normally the technical folk don’t get access to the stage to build until everyone else has gone home.
Which means that technical folk in theater work some long, crazy, weird hours.
At Yale, they were called 10-outta-12’s. Meaning that if there are 12 working hours in the day, Chris would be working 10 of those. Usually, those long stretches of crazy hours came just in the week or two leading up to a production and Chris and I adjusted accordingly. Some of my most favorite memories of him being in grad school were of sitting on his dinner breaks in the back of a dark theater while actors rehearsed on stage and Chris and I whispered about our days. I wouldn’t have seen him since I left early that morning for work and I probably wouldn’t see him again until he rolled into bed around 2 or 3 in the morning once rehearsals were over.
It was a strange life, but we were wee young things who didn’t know any different.
When Chris graduated, he took a job working at one of the largest scene shops in the world. A scene shop is a place that mass produces scenery for people. So, say you wanted to produce a Broadway play. You would hire a scene shop to build your set for you. And that’s what Chris did. Only, he was specifically in the automation department so he built anything that moved on stage for Broadway. It was a great job because he worked in an office and managed things instead of building, which meant for the first time in our lives he worked the same hours as I did.
Which meant for the first time in our lives we got to have dinner together at an actual kitchen table at a normal dinner time.
And all was right with the world.
This morning I got an email from Chris. It was a rehearsal schedule for next week. And – surprise, surprise – it was practically a 10-outta-12 schedule.
But I thought we were past all of this weird schedule crap?
I thought we were upper management. Office people. Water cooler talkers.
And Chris explained that being new to his job now, he can’t manage a theater if he doesn’t know how it functions. And so he’s going to these grueling rehearsals for a whole week so that he can get a feel for how the theater operates. He says it will make him a better manager because nobody likes a boss who doesn’t get his hands dirty.
As frustrating as it is to see these long hours come creeping back into our lives again, I can’t help but smile because I married a hard working person. A person who doesn’t hide from work. A person who will step up to the plate and be there for his team – both at work and at home – so that they can perform the absolute best. It’s a quality he has had since he was fifteen years old. And while sometimes that means he can’t always be home at 5:30 on the dot and sometimes he might have to be at the theater on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, he’ll kiss me goodbye and happily be on his way because he knows that he’s working to get the job done.
There are always things we’d like to change about our partners. I’m sure Chris would like it if I were neater or if I didn’t cry and moan and roll on the kitchen floor every time I have to do the dishes. And I would love it if Chris were not blind to the clothes hamper that sits on the floor right next to his pile of dirty laundry.
But, you know, Chris’ work ethic is something I would never change about him, even if it makes our lives a little difficult at times. I love that in him and I hope he teaches that to Bean as he gets older and has more responsibility. Because a person who is loyal and responsible in their jobs are more than likely loyal and responsible in their homes, too.
Besides, when he’s gone at night I get sole ownership of the remote. So, you know, there’s that.