Monday, 14 January 2013

My Hypocrytical Complaint About Complainers.

When somebody is brutally honest with you, (though you may be resentful and defensive at first) it is usually something worth considering, and probably something you'll carry with you for a long time. Especially if said person was brutally honest with you in college, a place where you're supposed to learn. Sometimes, somebody can be so honest with you that you leave, and when you come back, you've gotten a new haircut...but I digress.

In college, I had an audition technique class, where we had the opportunity to try mock auditions to prepare us for going out into the real world*. The hardest part of this, was knowing that the camera wasn't just rolling for our scene...it was on from the moment we entered the room, catching our conversations with the "casting director" - including every awkward pause, wrong response and that weird thing I do with my chin sometimes.

But the part that stood out the most to me? This thing that was pointed out to me and has never left my brain? How negative I was. Even when I thought I was being funny, or cute. My responses to her questions just had such a negative undertone to them, (as did many of my classmates) and seeing it on camera made it so clear how unattractive that is. No casting director wants to know that you were sick all through Christmas, or that you couldn't afford the bus fare to get to the audition. Quite frankly, nobody, save maybe the people you are close with, want to know that.

Which brings me to my next rant. What is the deal with everybody? When I go grocery shopping, and I cheerfully ask the cashier how their day is going...I really just want to hear a "Good, thanks". I know I differ from a lot of people on this, that a lot of you will argue that that sort of communication isn't sincere and we're all walking around pretending to be happy for one another and how refreshing is it to ask someone how they are and get a real  answer. I get that. I just disagree. I think that it is common courtesy and just good life practice to try to be positive and spark conversations with people that don't revolve complaining about how long your day is.

I suppose I am talking about everybody - and I have my people that I can be real with and bitch to and the rest of the time I try to be polite and upbeat - but specifically, I'm talking about people in customer service. I am honestly getting so tired of being friendly to the people who help me, and getting the "Well, it's been a really long day, and it's too busy,  and I have to deal with all the customers, and I have a lot of stuff going at home and I can't afford Christmas gifts" (I have literally gotten every one of those responses before when asking an employee at Kohl's how their day was going). And before you say anything, I have worked in almost every kind of job imaginable. I get it, retail sucks. Being in customer service can really suck. But too bad. That's your job, to be polite and friendly and to make the customer feel like they've had a nice experience...it's not my job as the customer to do that for the employee, but lately that's how it seems to go.

So there's my rant for the day. And how can we apply this to our acting careers? Simple. When you go to an audition, when you show up on set for your SOC part, when you try out a new class...greet people. Smile. Be positive. Instead of rolling off stories about how traffic was, tell a more uplifting story about your day. Tell them about a freaking video you saw of a puppy learning to climb down stairs (seriously...so cute). Positivity breeds positivity. It's good for you. And if you don't want to do it in your day to day life, that's ok. But don't forget, we're professionals, this our business, and we should treat it with a professional attitude.

I'll jump off my soapbox now.

*I'd like to point out how usefull this was. Real colleges out there? Take a page from acting school's notes...maybe teach your students how to interview? Just a suggestion.