Monday, May 4, 2009

As if....

My first nice bit of employment here in "exciting" Pittsburgh and I walk out on the job for the first time ever. Hired by an old "friend" Park of Park Place Studio to charge scenic an anchor news set, I arrived at the Civic Light Opera shop where Park had arranged the set to be built and painted before shipping out to the West coast. I had thought that 30 years NY experience in my business would carry a little clout but to my surprise it simply inspires a resentment in colleages I've met here. Being installed as charge painter on this job, the CLO charge painter and her staff (consisting of her 21 year old daughter and husband who was quite a vocal Obama hater) were forced to succumb to my leadership and although I was a nice and as bending as possible to this situation, they were secretly not having it. They were polite to me but not really friendly. It was up to me to say good morning and we never shared lunch together, they rather liked to go out to their car and leave me to dine alone.
The job included the painting of massive amounts of brick wall and it was made clear to me she didn't want to help with painting these so I pretty much let her do what she wanted.
About half way through the job, Park (the client) came in and approved of all the work except the speed of which the carpenter crew was cranking out the pieces that would then come into the paint shop. He came out of a meeting with the shop's owner(John Edkins ) and told me that he thought my being the charge painter was causing problems in the shop hence the slow work. He informed me that he was going to demote my position and ask the women to be charge painter hoping the carpenters, being used to her charge, would work faster. For the life of me I didn't understand the logic of the move but what could I do? I was a bit sarcastic with Park for a while but I let it go and thought I could bear it for the last four days of this job. After Park had left I was assigned one menial task after another by the new charge. At one point I had to protest. When she asked me to sand and back paint a piece, I replied quietly, "Excuse me, I am a scenic artist."
She turned instantly livid at my insubordination, began yelling  and stormed off to get the shops owner who offered me a choice of doing the jobs I was grossly overqualified to do or leave. I chose leaving but before I could get out of there he thought he would have a little fun and tell me I was demoted because my work was substandard and I was jeapordizing the reputation of his shop.
There I stood being gazed on by almost the whole crew, humiliated. I could feel the pleasure of some of them seeing the "la-dee-da New York" intruder being sliced down to size.
I left the place stunned by the events of the day and worried if I would be treated with the same resentment elsewhere here in my old home town. For three days I stewed and replayed the events in my head still unable to comprehend why it had happened. I had never felt this level of disrespect in the work place before and I hope it never happens again. I don't mean to sound like an ego case but my resume runs circles around anyone that was there that day and what is the point of having built it if it doesn't get you that respect?
I feel better today when I got a call from New York with a freelance job I would not have been available to take had I finished the painting job. And the New York job is much easier and pays 3 times as much.