'Plaint of the Playwright

'Plaint of the Playwright

[ Tuesday, October 30, 2001 ]

I work at a bank.

At night (for this last week, anyway), I work at a Halloween-themed store.

Recently, one of the other people who worked there—we’ll call her Bridget—got fired.

Upon finding this out, Bridget reportedly whined: “Why?”

Flashback to the night that got Bridget fired.

First off, it was a somewhat busy night, and the manager, Matt (I’m using his real name), had some work to do in the back room.

Meanwhile, all this time, Bridget’s still asking if she can leave early. Bridget often wanted to leave early—usually to shop for something.

But there was a big line, so Matt said no, and went into the stock room to finish working.

Matt came back into the store to find a long line of people and Bridget (the only other person working that night) gone.

My wife called the store at some point, to get our schedules (she moonlights there, too), and Matt told her what happened.

We got down there as fast as we could.

And so, Bridget was fired.

Here’s the odd thing; she had no idea why. She didn’t see anything wrong with what she did.

Which brings me to the point of my little rant:

What the hell is wrong with kids today?

I never thought I’d be ranting about this, but here I am, now thirty years old, ready to spit blood over it.

And it was different when I was a teen.

I mean, I would screw up from time to time, and sometimes, yeah, forget to show up—but I always knew it was my fault.

I always knew what I did wrong.

Christ, even when I was nineteen, I knew to call in if I didn’t think I’d be able to be there on time.

And yet, at the Halloween store, after only two days of working, another guy (he didn’t stay long enough to rate a pseudonym) never showed up again.

Come to think of it, maybe it has nothing to do with age. I have a friend who’s older than I am who just recently offered to be in my last show (we had lost someone and needed help desperately) and then never showed up again, never returned my calls, never spoke to me again until at least a month after the show closed.

(Okay, okay, for those of you who know who I’m talking about, yes, I realize he had some serious shit going on in his life—and still does—but he could have picked up a phone, seeing as he knew we were counting on him.)

But this kind of thing is starting to pop up everywhere.


It’s like there are fewer and fewer people in the world with a sense of responsibility.

I used to work in tech support. I eventually quit.

I managed to surprise everyone (my wife, my co-workers, everyone) by actually giving the two weeks notice, and sticking to it.

Keep in mind, I hated this job.

Hated hated hated hated hated this job.

I still hate it and I’m not even there.

And yet, I still didn’t want to punk out on my responisbilities.

But lately it seems like doing that--punking out--is Standard Operating Procedure for the newest generation.

Generation X becomes Generation Y becomes Generation Why Bother.

Another example:

(I always knew I’d be telling this story here someday—today might as well be the day.)

A while ago I wrote and directed a play for Broom Street.

I won’t say which one, but the initials are ILV2.

(Okay, I’m definitely changing the names on this one.)

So, for those of you that know, this show was a particularly popular show—as well as being, we now believe, cursed.

During the course of the show, I had to remove two cast members (one for an injury, one because she was being disruptive to the cast)—about three weeks into the run.

That’s a whole other story.

Fast forward to closing night.

One cast member (we’ll call her Katie) never shows up.

We call her apartment.

No answer.

We call her job.

She’s not there.

There is a huge line of people out front.

But no Katie.

Finally, Greg (again, not his real name), Katie’s boyfriend shows up.


With two drunk and giggling friends with him.

He asks to speak to me alone.

Now, understand, this is about ten minutes before we’re supposed to start the show.

I am not so much a Happy Camper as I am a Disgruntled Scout Leader.

Plus, I figure he’s not here to tell me that Katie’s here and she’s brought all of us cookies.

“She wanted to be here, man,” Greg starts, even though he’s grinning.

“Yeah,” one of his drunk friends says, “she’s really fucked up.” This sends them into a giggle-fit.

All of this while the crowd is watching.

“Yeah,” Greg says, “we had this kick ball game, and so we’ve been drinking since noon.”

More giggling.

“So, Katie’s gonna be really hung over tomorrow,” Greg continues, “she really wanted to be here for closing night and all that.”

I glare at him. The crowd is watching me glare at him.

“I tried, like pouring fuckin’ coffee down her throat, but she just wouldn’t stop puking.”

“She’s really drunk,” one of the giggling friends says.

I stare at Greg. I feel my fists tighten.

But the clock, that monkey on my back, is still ticking.

Well, I say to Greg, nothing I can say to that.

“Yeah, man, like, I’m sure she’ll send you an email tomorrow.”

Yeah, you know, or, uh, call.

“Yeah, she’ll send you an email.”

Yes. Fine. I have to go, I say.

I have to get away from this guy, and fast. I can feel my fists wanting to clench, and he’s a lot bigger than I am.

“Okay, but just so you know—“

I cut him off, saying, Greg, I really need to Talk. To My Cast. Now. We have to figure out what to do.

I walk away without saying goodbye.

Later on, my friend Callen Harty, another Broom Street director, who saw the whole thing, compliments me on my self control. Even he can’t believe what he’s just seen.

But that’s in the future. Right now, in the here and now, I have to do something.

I walk inside.

The whole cast is worried.

Emergency cast meeting. Now, I say.

“What’s going on?” Another cast member, Collin, asks this. Everybody’s wondering, but Collin’s the first to get it out.

We lost Katie.


We lost Katie.


We lost Katie. Katie is Home. Katie is Drunk. Katie is Not Showing Up.

We. Lost. Katie.

I wish I could say there is a moment of silence.

It is not so much a moment of silence as it is a moment of screaming.

Some cast members had to run outside and pound the walls.

Some collapsed where they stood.

Some chose to say “I told you so.”

Many chose to come up to me and say “You don’t deserve this.”

“You don’t deserve this,” my wife tells me.

I can’t even think.

Jhen Harding, who we call our tech goddess, is so stunned, she can’t even talk.

“Well, we’re still doing the show. We can’t not do the show at this point,” Collin says.

Jill, another cast member, agrees.

Another cast member runs to every member of the cast telling them how we were all warned this might happen by one of the cast members I cut from the show.

“Maybe,” he says, “you should have understudies.”

We did, I say to his back. They’re already in the God Damn Show.

Which is true—John (real name, again) was our understudy, and when we lost two people, John had to take over in the actual cast.

A phone call is made to someone we know—Kelly (her real name)—a person who was in the last show.

Kelly agrees to do the show with a script in her hand.

Everyone pulls together while I have my mental breakdown.

Hey, I ask, does anyone need me for anything? I need a cigarette.

“NO,” everyone seems to say in unison.

“Go,” John says, “Do what you gotta do…”

I go outside.

Jhen is already there.

“You don’t deserve this,” she says.

You neither, I say.

Lauri, another friend, is still in shock: “They just acted like it was some big joke…”

The people in the crowd all force themsleves to smile at me. By now they’ve all heard.

They’re dying to see how this is going to turn out.

We start almost a half hour late—but almost every audience member has stayed.

I walk on stage to welcome everyone.

The friend I have in the audience start a wave of applause I’ve never heard before or since.

But I’m still boiling.

I say, Thank you for your applause, thank you for your warmth, thank you for your love, and welcome to Irish Lesbian Vampire Two-Point-One.

Big laugh.

Fast forward to the end of the night.

Fast forward past a really good show.

Fast forward past me dismantling a part of the set with a baseball bat.

Fast forward to me at work the next day.

I get the following email (All I have changed are the names):


my sincerest appology for last night. It was not intentional by any means. I went to a kick ball game at noon and started drinking, long story but it was the case of the last drink completly kicking my ass. I did'nt want to miss the last show. That's really all I can say, I wanted to be there and I fucked up. I'm sorry. Please forward this to the rest of the cast as I don't have their addresses. One last appology for the road. It was a complete accident. If it gives anyone any glimmer of happiness, I am still hung over and feeling like shit. I am so very sorry for the irriesponsiblity and such.


Okay, I think, okay.

I send this email back:


The people you let down were counting on you and trusted you.

These were people who liked you and defended you when [A Disruptive Cast Member] accused you of being a cocaine addict.

Knowing what we had to go through when we lost [two cast members]--knowing what kind of stress and panic that kind of situation breeds, how could you do this?

Not to mention, what were you thinking when you started drinking heavily AT NOON before a show? Because it was kick ball game, you had no other recourse but to get really drunk? When has anyone in the history of drinking gotten drunk at noon and been okay by seven?

What this all boils down to is, I'm not in the mood to make you feel better about this. Whether or not you meant to hurt anyone doesn't change anything. The fact that you were irresponsible rather than mean-spirited does not change the fact that you WERE NOT THERE.

One last thing: It's not that you "wanted" to be there that night; it's that you HAD to be there that night.

You had a responsibility to all of us, just as we had a responsibility to you.

I'll send copies of your apology to the cast.

I am so fucking disappointed in you.


I go home.

I go to sleep.

I wake up.

I go to work.

I find the following email (and again, only the names are changed):

This is Greg. I am by no means Katie's defender, however, I would like to make some points sparkling fucking clear.

A person is not obligated to be anywhere that person chooses not to be, regardless of what some jack booted thugs may like to demand on those people.

Second, Katie had to put our relations on hold for a lot of the time that play was on. We have known one another for 8 years and I think that putting a relation such as this on hold is a large commitent for anyone.

As the last person to see Katie sober, I will say that she made a decent effort in staying sober and as much as I may dislike certain people in the play (no names mentioned, cause when you are a dick no one needs to tell you, but then you know that) However things got a little crazy towards the end and as she only has one kidney, she was a little less tolerant than those of us who had our days in the sun. Since we have been dating, drinking is almost neglible, so that makes for a lower tolerance. So all in all things happen, life doesn't always turn out the way that you would like it to and you can cry all you want.

Once again Katie is a good and strong person, she is fully capable of standing for herself. These are things that I have felt the need to say for sometime. however as I do not like to make ill waters and I care about Katie's activities I held them back. Now however, perhaps you should realize that yes being a director is a very stressful job and demanding on keeping people in check. That does not mean that people are lap dogs to be ordered at will, they are still people. Perhaps you should realize before you get a real job outside [your shitty tech support job] that jobs are stressful and that management can be difficult. Treating people like people will have much more promising results.

I do feel the need to say that, I honestly like a few of the people in the cast, Katie knows who those people are and she would be more than happy to share that information if prompted, or they can just ask me themselves.

So all in all go ahead and print this, wipe your ass with it, throw darts, call me names, what ever makes you feel better about you. However if you have ill feelings toward Katie or myself, please either walk the other way or just avoid eye contact on the street. If you approach Katie or myself in a hostile way, actions in accordance to your own will be taken. This is by no means a threat, as it would depend on how you acted towards us first. Right now the waters are clean and we can both walk away peacefully, this would be the course of action that I would like to take, I hope you feel the same.

Thank you and good night.

Personal opinion, sequels are always bad. I don't blame it all on you.

Love and kisses


I’m really pissed now.

I fire off this response:


A person is not obligated to be anywhere that person chooses not to be,regardless of what some jack booted thugs may like to demand on those people.

Yes, but when eighteen people who trust you and are counting on you to be there for them (and it's a commitment you knew about for THREE MONTHS) then it's an obligation.

Second, Katie had to put our relations on hold for a lot of the time that play was on.

We all went through that.

As the last person to see Katie sober, I will say that she made a decent effort in staying sober

If she's only working on one kidney, perhaps no drinking would have been the greatest effort of all, don't you think?

Perhaps you should realize before you get a real job outside [your shitty tech support job] that jobs are stressful and that management can be difficult. Treating people like people will have much more promising

I was very lenient with the cast--to the extent where I was even criticized for it--I'm not sure where you get the idea that I'm being a Nazi for expecting people to make good on their promises--because that's what being in a cast means, Greg.

Personal opinion, sequels are always bad. I don't blame it all on you.

Personal opinion, being supportive means seeing the whole play at once. Not showing up halfway through, then going back and seeing the first half of the first act.



I hit Send.

I hit Block Sender.

Maybe it’s because everything’s so easy to do these days, it’s easy to think that everything can be fixed.

That nothing is a big deal.

Just about every software package out there comes with an Undo function.

Think about it.

posted by Rob on 3:40 PM | link



Post a Comment