AUTHOR: Beth TITLE: DATE: 7/01/2004 02:32:00 PM ----- BODY:

That Last Day Before Vacation is Always the Worst

In my continued effort to test the limits of my boredom endurance, this morning found me sitting in the conference room watching safety training videos. You see, in exchange for income with which to pay my rent, I will soon be forced to unleash a safety training video very much like one of these upon the world. Not exactly what I pictured doing with my Bachelor's in English Literature, but the best laid plans of mice and men often end in corporate marketing. However, two out of the three videos I propped myself in front of Clockwork Orange-style were actually not the torturous experiences I had imagined, so there is hope. Of course, I had been recalling a particularly heinous training video I was forced to watch when hired at the ghetto-ass movie theater a couple of years ago, so perhaps these videos were merely decent by comparison, in that they did not feature horrifyingly written skits or acting that would make a soap-opera star turn her head away in shame. But that last one: whoo! It singlehandedly brought the fact that I'd sooner clean a latrine with my toothbrush than write one of these back into startling focus. Called "The Ten Commandments of Hoist Safety," this thing was such a classic that I've contemplated bringing it home to show everyone. It stars an actor who probably is doing the video to support his crack habit, because why else would any self-respecting actor do a machinery safety training video? Then again, why would any self-respecting college graduate be writing a machinery safety training video? At any rate, the crack addicated actor actually made a tremendous sacrifice on the altar of dignity for this one, if you think about it, because watching his performance only made me strengthen my resolve not to write anything remotely like the script he was forced to work with. For example, during a section that warns trainees not to use a "cheat" to maneuver their hoists (a "cheat" is a length of pipe that...oh, you don't want to know, it's a thing that's called a cheat. That's all that's important right now). "Because remember," Crack-Addicted Actor Guy said earnestly into the camera--behind which a crew member was probably dangling a vial temptingly--"cheaters...are losers." I had to stop the video to laugh. One thing I need to add here is that the guy strongly resembled Mr. Rogers. The true Academy Award scene, though, the real piece de resistance, was the tenth and final Commandment of Hoist Safety: "Above All, Use Common Sense". During this segment, Crackhead Fred Rogers masterfully assumed the persona of a Middle School principal sternly addressing an assembly about yesterday's unfortunate paint-balloon incident on school grounds. The apex, if you will, of the entire performance came when CFR stood next to a suspended load on one of the demonstration hoists and said grimly, "Never stand under a hoist while it is making a lift. In fact, I won't even stand underneath this one for this demonstration." In a stunning display of computer-assisted filmmaking technology, a white dotted outline of CFR then separated itself from the actual CFR and slid across the screen until it was standing under the hoist. With his CGI doppelganger standing beside him, CFR went on, "Not only would that be would also--" he fairly glowered into the camera, winding himself up for the big finish--"be dumb." No, not at all what I had in mind when I decided to develop my writing skills. Not at all. Sigh. Oh well. I know that someday I'll look back on this and say, "Damn, do you remember when I had that stupid job and I was just moving into that little apartment in Lowell and I was a total basket case? Man, those were good times!" To which my cellmate will reply, "Damn, girl, ain't you got any other stories?"