Never Good Enough

Sometimes, you just can’t win.

Over the long weekend, I had to set up a meeting between my boss and the producer, because the showrunner did a major re-write on the script that changed the budget drastically. I actually thought I got the good end of the deal, because one of the PAs had to go in to the office to run pages, and the other had to drive those pages to the cast. All I had to do was call the producer’s assistant and find out where to set up the meeting.

So I called her up, and she told me the producer wanted to meet at a Starbucks down the street from his house, at the corner of Fair Oaks and Orange. I pulled up Google maps to email directions to my boss, only to discover there is no Starbucks at the corner of Fair Oaks and Orange.

Now, the assistant had also mentioned the Starbucks was right next to a grocery store, and sure enough, there was a Vons a couple blocks away. And next to that, a Starbucks. So, okay, she must’ve meant “near the intersection,” not “literally on the corner.” Fair enough. People do that all the time.

But! Being the smart PA that I am, I emailed the assistant with the address, and said, “Is this the one you mean?” And she replied, “Yup, that’s the one.”

Problem solved! I went back to grilling hotdogs.

A few hours later, my boss called. He’d been waiting for ten minutes. Where was the producer? So, I called the assistant, who said the producer had been waiting ten minutes.

Now a moronic game of telephone begins, with actual telephones. Are you at a Starbucks? Yes. At the corner of Fair Oaks and Orange? Near the corner of Fair Oaks and Orange. Do you you see a Vons? I’m right next to a Vons. Etc, etc.

The assistant starts saying my boss should just drive north until he sees it. I try to explain to her, neither of us knows where our respective bosses actually, physically are, so just driving around and hoping to see another Starbucks is not a solution.

Then she says, “I don’t understand why it’s so hard to find the intersection of Fair Oaks and Orange Grove.”

“Wait, what?”

“They’re major streets. This shouldn’t be that hard.”

“You told me it was at the corner of Fair Oaks and Orange.”

“Yeah, exactly.”

“No, not exactly. Orange and Orange Grove are two different streets. About a mile apart.”

“Well, you should’ve known that’s what I meant.”

“How in the good Goddamn fuck am I supposed to know that you didn’t mean the street that you told me? And I sent you the map. You said, ‘Yup! That’s the one!'”

“I assumed you would know how to Google the Starbucks on the right corner.”

“There’s a Starbucks on every corner! That’s why I sent you the map! Why would you assume I was right when I sent you the map specifically to double check if I was right?”

“Why would you assume I would look at it?”

“BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT I TOLD YOU TO DO!”

“You’re not my boss.”

“Oh, my fuck, what is wrong with you?”

“Look, I’ll just tell [producer] that you told [UPM] the wrong Starbucks, and he’ll be there in a few minutes.”

“No, don’t you tell him this was my-” But she already hung up.

This is why I hate producer’s assistants. I called my boss, told him the assistant gave me the wrong Starbucks, and then gave him the address.

Instead of thanking me, he said, “Why didn’t you double-check the address?”

“Okay, first of all, I did double check. I sent her the map, she didn’t look at it. Secondly, she’s a fuck up. You know it, I know it, everyone knows it. I secretly suspect the producer keeps her around so he can blame her when he doesn’t call someone back or implement network notes.1 So why are you blaming me when this is plainly, obviously, and in every way her fault?”

…is what I didn’t say.

Instead, I said, “It won’t happen again.” (Go ahead and click that link; it’s very important advice.)

Nothing I could say right at that moment would make my boss feel better, about me, about being late, about having to work on the long weekend. It’s best to just pull the ripcord and bail out of the conversation as quickly as possible.

I want one of these in my car.
Eject! Eject! Eject!

The worst part is, it will happen again. The assistant will screw something up, but I’ll get blamed because I’m the responsible one and no one expects anything out of her. Now I know what my older siblings must’ve felt like when we were kids.

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. A diabolical plan I secretly admire, by the way.
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Yeah, right, like I'm going to tell you.

12 Comments

  1. Similar situations have happened to me before, but luckily, I “show my work.” After the other party confirms the time and place, I forward that e-mail directly to my boss so s/he can see that I had confirmation without me having to say a word. That is, if they’re even going to bother to read the thread, but at least it’s an attempt to CYA.

    And seriously, what’s with the violent comments?

  2. And apparently my iPad auto correct is trying to make me sound like an idiot who can’t spell or use the correct words.

  3. As someone who started as a PA and has managed to claw my way to the middle I found the best thing to do is keep the “bug guys” number on speed dial. Nothing better than sending 1000 giant cockroaches to obnoxious assistants home. I’m kidding. I would never be that cruel. To the cockroach.
    Goddess news though once you move up and have to start dealing with agent’s assistants it gets even worse. They have no concept of production and thus have no sense of expediency who it comes to anything you need right away. It seems to be their main goal is to out themselve in fornt of enough celebrities so eventually one of them will marry them or move up to being an agent so they can put themselves in front of enough celebrities so eventually one of them will marry them..

  4. I hear the whole “won’t happen again,” response…but there’s a line – especially when it makes YOU look like the incompetent idiot. Maybe I’ve just been lucky, but the UPMs I’ve worked with have been cool enough with me that I’d have said something like, “I did double check, and was told it was right – but I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.” They’d know *I* wasn’t the idiot, but also that I was going to do my damnedest to fix whatever problem DID occur. I’ve actually had my UPM ask me questions to verify *I* did my job correctly so they can give shit to whoever/whichever dept DID screw up – kind of like a “Don’t blame my guys if it’s yours that are f-ing it up” (Though I realize in THIS case a UPM isn’t going to tell a Producer “Your guys are fucking it up not mine”)

  5. Days like this are days that I wish I could be in a cartoon where I can literally smack someone through phone.

  6. I’ve been in similar situations and understand your pain. There are times in which you want to knock the sense into the moron, but you can’t because it’s illegal and will cause you more problems. What do you do? You put on your professional face and try to continue with your day, and hoping it gets better.

    Thank you for this blog post. I truly enjoyed it. Have a wonderful day!

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