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September 27, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

The other day I found out the scene shop foreman from when I was at Knott’s Berry Farm died.
He wasn’t a great friend or colleague because I worked in the theatre and wasn’t a shop guy but because on occasion I’d have to work in the shop I did encounter him and other members of the shop staff more often than other tech ones.
He did the tech one tool orientation which boiled down to, “If you don’t know how to use a tool then don’t fucking use it”. But my first real memory of him took place my first summer there.
During the load in of The World According to Snoopy (or TWATS on Ice as we called it) I was sent to the shop to either get a tool or work on a project I don’t recall now. I got there, and let us say it was to work on something, I set up and begin laying out my project.
This guy with a big moustache appears demanding to know who I am what I think I’m doing. Now he isn’t yelling but his voice is full of authority and I get a little scarred. This is after all in my first week and I barely know my way around any where so to be thrown to the wolves and I feel like I’ve done something completely wrong.
I stammer out a response about having to work on something for the theatre and who I am.
He took a moment looked me up and down, then at what I was laying out, probably asked me what it was, and told me to check with the shop guys before starting.

Something about that interaction stuck.
After that I would ask permission to use the shop.
Not all the time, mind, there would be points where I was so well known it didn’t need to happen but for the most part that small ritual played out.
Even today I tend to do that.
Without saying a word about it Mike told me that I was an outsider in his space, he wasn’t sure of me and needed to know what was happening. But more than ensuring people didn’t fuck up projects he made it known that I needed to give the most basic level of respect to him and his workers by seeing if there was space or materials for me to do my project. And that lives on in me.
After all if you can’t do anything else you need to respect the people and places you work at.

Mike maybe gone but I will remember him for that lesson.
Also if you know where to look there are monuments to him at Knott’s .


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