Joey writes in:
A few days ago, I was referred to day play on a TV series by someone I had PA’d for once before, which I was really excited about. That morning, I woke up with the worse flu I’ve ever head. We’re talking vomiting, sweating, all the gross stuff.
I know this is probably bad form but after scouring TAPA and fruitless Google searches, in my miserable state I texted the AD, emailed the 2nd AD and the person who referred me (also working on the shoot) explaining the situation, apologizing and canceling on them. The following day I sent my referral another email apologizing and explaining my thought process, but haven’t heard back.
It was a big day, and they had plenty of PAs, so I don’t think I left them in a bind, but felt SO awful. I didn’t want to come to work and leave a bad impression, not bringing my A-game and looking like I was trying to skim by to get a paycheck and honestly, not earn that paycheck. I am immensely concerned with making good impressions in the work place and want to know two things: 1) Did I handle the situation correctly? 2) What is the best way to call in sick?
You did exactly what you should have done. Unfortunately, you’ll never get credit for it.
The worst thing a PA can be is not there. You have to be up and at ’em, ready and willing to work, for at least twelve hours. You’re not doing anyone any good from home.
In a freelance industry, first impressions matter. A lot. It makes no sense, but your behavior on the first day will affect everyone’s view of you for the run of the series. If you can’t show up, well…
It sounds like it was unavoidable in this case. If you are literally unable to get out of bed, that sucks enough in and of itself. But you’ve now made a bad impression with both the AD on that show and the friend who referred you. You’ll probably never work for either of them again.
It’s totally unfair, but that’s life. So if you ever find yourself in this situation, take a moment to really assess yourself. Are you “not feeling well” or are you “nearly dead?” If it’s the former, drag your ass to work. If it’s the latter… dang. Bad timing.
I’m talking about the first day, here. If you’ve been on a show for three seasons and never missed a day, showed up bright eyed and bushy tailed every morning, working hard the whole live long day, then yeah, you can call in sick. Again, your first (and 301st) impression is positive. One sick day won’t undo all that work.
Also, wash your hands once in a while. You’re spreading germs!