An open letter to the woman I apparently wronged last week:
Okay. I’m trying to keep cool about my encounter with you. I really am. That’s why it’s taken me a few days to write this up and zap it up into the Internet’s atmosphere. Because I had to think through all the things I wanted to say-shout-scream to you and condense them into a few coherent thoughts.
The events, as they occurred, are quite simple. I was working a production in a residential neighborhood. Streets are narrow, parking is scarce, and there are numerous driveways and walkway gates along the open parking sections of the curb, thus the crew needs to keep a close eye on our cars’ footprint when we park. On the top of the call sheet is written “Please do not block the neighbor’s gate door or driveway.” It’s written on the call sheet, clear as day. Apparently, the nameless “neighbor” is you. Sorry I didn’t realize that when reading the sheet.
On the street across from the house we’re filming in is your gate. It’s about six feet wide, opens in the middle — two doors, I presume — with a call box next to the gate. You’ve got a handwritten note under the call box for people to ring the bell — around the corner, near your garage, NOT the bell on this gate. The doors are resting on the inner trip of the sidewalk, and the curb does not dip down in front of them. There is a five-foot high wall running along the sidewalk on either side of your gate, thus fencing in your yard. Or at least I assume it’s your yard. It’s certainly not a driveway.
There is no sign in front of your gate that says “do not park here”.
Today, I returned from a lunch pickup and parked in front of your gate. I emptied the food and went back into our location house to continue my day. The time was about 12:45. I admit that in that moment of parking, I’d forgotten the call sheet and what was written on it, warning us not to park and block the unnamed neighbor’s driveway or gate. After I unloaded the food, I became distracted enough that I did not remember that I might even need to move my car.
As such, when we began to wrap at 6:30 PM, I was nonchalant when hearing about an irate neighbor who wanted the car moved. One of our camera guys came inside the house to find out who drives the Civic, and that there was a neighbor outside, a woman who was unhappy and threatened to call the police. I claimed it, as it is my car, and was calm as I walked down the driveway towards my car.
You stood there with a hand on my car and your other hand on your hip, striped shirt wrinkled around the waist, and tightly cropped gray hair somehow still askew on your head. I guess you’re in your sixties, but that’s a guess. The wrinkles might make you appear older than you are.
The look on your face managed a microsecond of relief, then traded off to anger and frustration.
I said, “I’m sorry about this, I’ll move my car –”
“You’d better. I was this close to calling the police. I lost a lot of business today because my clients couldn’t see the entrance to the house. Now I don’t know what you’re up to, but this is…I came outside this morning and put a note on your windshield. Then I had to come out and put a second note on there because you tore the first one off and ignored it –”
“I never noticed the n–”
“Shut up. I’m talking and I’m very angry. I put this second note on there and you still haven’t moved your car. I’m sick with anger and I really don’t know what to say to you. I had clients all day come by and leave because they couldn’t find the entrance to the house.”
“I don’t know what to say.”
“Don’t say anything. I lost a lot of business today. Do you want to write me a check for $25,000?” You held out your hand, as if I would actually take this moment to write a check. “Now, I don’t know what you’re filming in there. My husband, he’s a producer, been in the business a long time, and he, well, I don’t know how he would react to this. There are cars parked all up and down this street, I don’t know what for. My husband would say this is no way to work on a production, no way to treat these other houses.
“I’m so angry I don’t know what to say.”
“I’m sorry, ma’am. It won’t happen again–”
“It better not. Next time I won’t even leave a note I’m just gonna tow it.”
“I’m sorry, I’ll move it right now, it won’t happen again.”
You stare at me, shake your head as though you’re disappointed. That’s what stinks the most. I feel guilty, even though I’ve only made a mistake. A human error.
And all I wanted to do was move the car.
Mistakes happen. Bad attitudes are a choice. You could’ve just accepted my offer to move my car, but instead you went on to lecture and explain to me how you lost business, how you’re husband is a producer, and that you were very angry.
Ma’am, if you were intending to make me feel bad, you’ve succeeded. If your intention was to blow off steam, congratulations, I hope you feel lighter. If your intention was to teach me a valuable lesson about production etiquette, you have succeeded.
I will never work for, or collaborate with, someone like you. I pity your clients, the people who attempt to do business with you.
I pity your husband for having to deal with your cold heart and your icy temper.
I pity your friends for thinking you have any heart at all, or compassion.
I pity you for thinking you have more privilege and power than someone who is earning 100 bucks a day, someone who made a mistake and logistically did not have the moment to check for a note on the windshield of his car.
I made the mistake, I’ll own up to that. Not only did I not pay attention to that section of the call sheet, I blatantly parked in front of your gate — not to purposely block your house, or to intentionally piss you off, but the mistake was just that, a mistake made in a moment of rushing around trying to bring in lunch to a hungry set. I was irresponsible.
And you were mean. And I understand that, working in Hollywood, in production, I have to deal with mean people on a daily basis. However, that doesn’t mean I have to silently accept it from people who I don’t work with, or do business with.
Thank you for the lesson in how to conduct myself professionally. I kept my cool, and was more than willing to simply do as you asked: move my car.
If I wanted to get a lecture, I’d sign up for a class at the UCLA Extension Program. I did wrong. I apologized. I offered to get in my car and move it immediately. You rejected that so you could tell me to shut up and so you could feel important.
You also lied to me. I parked my car on your street in a different spot at 7 in the morning. When I left at noon to pick up lunch, there was NO NOTE on my windshield. I returned at 12:45, parked in front of your gate (mistakenly, I admit) and went inside. You claim you put a note on my car at 1:00 and were going to call the police, but they never showed. Not only did you lie about the note in the morning (BEFORE my lunch run), you also lied about calling the police. Nice. Real nice.
Thank you, ma’am, for teaching me how NOT to treat people.