Charlie Nadler grew up on Martha’s Vineyard and graduated from MVRHS with the class of 2002. He lives in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles where he works in the film and television industry and regularly performs stand up comedy. In the twice-monthly “From Afar” column, Charlie will muse about the Island from his perch in LA.
It’s times like these when I miss my old Vineyard summer jobs the most.
The Hollywood Producer interrogating me received 200 resumes and scheduled 25 interviews. I was thrilled to make the final round and dumbstruck when he offered me the job. I didn’t expect this because I’d flubbed an important interview question.
He asked me how I dealt with stress.
I can’t remember what I spewed out, the interview process is stressful and tends to blur together. I definitely didn’t tell him the truth; he wouldn’t have responded well to that.
I had concerns. The drive was almost an hour each way and the salary was meager, but this smooth talking middle aged gentleman had a great reputation — “Super Nice Guy!” — and he promised a lot of long-term upside about how this would lead to invaluable connections and an eventual business partnership with him for future projects. It helped rationalize the bagged lunch life I’d live for a while. He wanted me to bring in ideas right away, and this was the first time a producer had asked me to bring in anything besides a Diet Coke.
I enjoyed a promising first morning thanks to the dazzling efficiency of the building. It was one of those swank offices where the guard will hurtle his security booth if necessary so he can open the door for you. The elevator call button should’ve been called the open sesame button because a door dinged as soon as you grazed it with your finger. Don’t even get me started about the Flavia coffee machine; ready-to-go pouches that DISAPPEARED into the machine after brewing. I barely had to do ANYTHING at this place! I was living the dream. The only thing better would be if this company relocated to Oak Bluffs.
Then the “Super Nice Guy” showed up.
I have dealt with a lot of tough personalities in entertainment. I can cope with them. I had heard my new boss could be “crazy,” but everyone in this industry is crazy. Including me. Especially me.
But this guy spoke a dialect of English that I hadn’t studied. I soon learned “Get a card” meant “Get two cards,” and punishment for this type of illiteracy was excessive verbal abuse. He was super nice at times, but you never knew when his fury would return, and it arrived faster than the elevators.
Since there is no Rosetta Stone for “Maniacal Hollywood Producer English,” I logged an absurd amount of unpaid overtime trying to make sense of it all. I clocked twenty-six hours in my first two days. I would make eight dollars per hour, also known as California minimum wage. I hated helping this guy sell his ideas. I missed selling apple fritters.
The last straw came when my boss asked me to meet him on the other side of the street— so he didn’t have to turn his car around — with four packets of this special cleanse powder. Recalling the card debacle, I took eight packets. Noting how much he hated waiting, I avoided the “inconvenient” crosswalk and jay-walked across six lanes of rush hour traffic to make the drop seamless.
I risked my life for a mean person’s colon cleanse.
It was at this moment I realized the answer to how I deal with stress. I extricate myself from bad situations. So I did just that. I quit just two days in. An employer cleanse so to speak.
They opened the door for me on my way out. It was wonderful to escape one second sooner.