“I’m a director…but also an IT consultant.”

“I’m an actress…but also a substitute teacher.”

“I’m a photographer…but also an office manager.”

Welcome to LA, where you are what you want to be, but also what you need to be.

“I’m a barista…but also a musician.”

Or, where you are what you need to be, but also what you want to be.

This evening I met with a friend over dinner in Larchmont Village. He’s a fellow creative sort, a storyteller, who has lived in this town for just about as long as I have. He and I discussed the people of Los Angeles in general, both of us being transplants from the northeast US. We seem to agree, and I know I have other friends who think similarly, that there is something in the air in and around LA besides the smog.

He calls it desperation, I call it frustration.

Either way, there’s something to LA that, after years living here, starts to wear on you. You feel at once helpless and optimistic, you experience failure and sudden acceptance, and while you wait for the “big moment” of recognition, hours of professional acknowledgement and gratitude pass you by. If there’s one constant to remember while working in this business it’s that flattery will take you anywhere you want to go.

That’s not a knock on flattery. Buying someone a gift, supplying someone’s production needs at personal cost or risk, these are things you do out of gaining favor, sure, but also out of kindness. Remember what Conan O’Brien said at the end of his run on the Tonight Show? “Be kind.”

Every boss I’ve had who as thanked me, expressed gratitude, and taken the time to point out our mutual benefit of working together, I’ve worked for more than once.

Every boss who doesn’t acknowledge the good, only points out the mistakes, I have not seen since the job was completed, and do not recommend anyone to work for them no matter who needs the work.

Be Kind. If someone sees it as “fake” kindness, that’s their own jaded sensibility, their own cynicism. It’s too easy to look at an act of kindness with a critical eye. But try not to, at least a little, and instead try to feel grateful. Try to thank people, try to offer up a kindness in return. This town is a mess of disappointment, let-downs, mistakes, failures, and general “never was” sorts of people. The best thing we can do is share in those failures and be there for each other.

Offer a note, meet someone for coffee, exchange emails about a movie you both hate or enjoy, and add in a funny cat or dog photo. Funny messages can change an attitude from cold and bitter to warm and joyful more often than you know.

Gosh, I sound a little too preachy, so it’s probably time for me to hit the grind again and write out something a little more creative, but I know that tomorrow is another day at the office.

It’s my job. I am a production coordinator.

But also a writer.

I am an “also”, and that’s that.

What are you?

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