Looking at the sturm und drang
, the wailing and gnashing of teeth over on thehefner
's journal over the demise of scans_daily
got me to thinking.
Something that a lot of the folks who regularly read this journal don't know about me is that for about three years, I did risk management for Region 1 of Alpha Phi Omega
. While, in theory, I also dealt with OSHA rules, and safety concerns on service projects, in reality, I dealt mostly with preventing allegations of hazing and damage control concerning alcohol. Yes, I've always been a paranoid worrier, a prime candidate for stage management.
And, I'll tell you, it gets old
being a professional buzzkill, which is how most of the rest of the world sees you when you do things like risk and stage management in any kind of professional capacity. A lot of the time, it means having people think you're just a petty goody-two shoes trying to impose your neuroses on the world around you. And I was lucky: in the three years I worked with APO on risk management, my most difficult case was a drinking debacle at Maine Maritime Academy, and the members were awesome, took their punishment like the good sailors that they were (and are), and weren't sullen, or passive, or bitchy. But aside from MMA, I still needed major political players standing behind me to get anyone to take the post seriously.
But, as Cheryl Smith, the Region 1 Director at the time, always told me when I got discouraged (because I was still young and wanted people to like me), what I was doing was important. Alpha Phi Omega is a large organization, but not a particularly wealthy one. One mid-level lawsuit in the late 90s would have put a serious dent in operations. A big one, or more than one mid-sized, and the organization would have been toast.
Fast forward to my stage managing days, which I'm still in. Yes, the comedy club in Laurel had atmosphere, but it was a safety nightmare. The building had been condemned
. Not only was I terrified that a wall was going to fall on someone (a distinct possibility given that mold and mildew, not to mention age and lack of upkeep, had eaten away a lot of the beam structures), and of the moldy drywall, of which there were yards, but there was also the God-awful possibility that one day were were going to show up to find the door chained, or the building knocked down, effectively shutting down the production of Midsummer
that we were performing there. Atmosphere wasn't going to do diddly squat for us if the show never got performed.
The upshot is that it's not fun being the hall monitor, and being the friendly neighborhood grownup can suck hard
. But rules are there for a reason. Yes, sometimes there are bad rules, but you need a better reason than "I want to do what I want!" to break them. If you disagree with a law, or a rule, go for it. Have a good time. Write your congresscritter, lobby Washington, join an organization or start one. Talk to the rule-makers, ask for their why, and tell them your wherefore. Work to get the rule changed, but in the meantime, you're still not allowed to break it, especially when it comes to the law. Trust me, I understand the urge. I have been heartily tempted to break the rules "just this one time," but I can't. Not only do the what-ifs take over my brain (because, under Murphy's law, the one time I let the rule slide will be the time that something catastrophic happens, which the broken rule just so happens to exist to prevent), but there's principle involved, that the rules are there for safety, either yours or someone else's. Being a rule follower doesn't mean you're an unthinking drone, just like being a rule breaker doesn't automatically make people neglectful or careless.
This is something that's still very much a thought-work-in-progress. I like stage managing, and I liked doing risk management because I liked the fact that people were safer and happier (as a result of being safer) because I was around, doing what I do. Not to mention the fact that I'm uniquely suited to it. But I don't like the way that I, and other rule-followers and -enforcers, are often pigeonholed as uncreative, nattering automotons, mindless tools of The Man. I suspect it's the company I keep: I'm a techie awash in a sea of actors. And that's not bad, but they're two fundamentally different approaches to theater, and in many ways, life.