A couple of years ago, I had an appointment for a commercial where they wanted me to sing. I got lost in my own eyes while getting ready, and was consequently late and panicked. To allay my panic, I rushed out, planning to finish getting ready en route. All I needed to do was staple my headshot to my resume.
An experienced panicker, I’d put common sense aside and focused on being a hot mess while waiting for the train. Surely stapling my headshot to my resume during the wait would calm me down, so I pulled them out of my bag and made a table by propping my audition book between my abdomen and a column. I slipped and, to my immense horror, my beloved book tumbled onto the subway tracks.
An audition book to a musical theater performer is her most precious possession. That book contains her music with its cuts and markings. It takes years to compile the perfect songs; hundreds of dollars spent on coaching, copying, office supplies, bought music, borrowed music, rare songs coerced out of long ago acquaintances. There are headshots and old sides from callbacks stuffed in the pockets. That book is like Regina George’s hair: full of secrets.
I sank to the ground and tried to estimate how quickly I could jump down and retrieve it, while screaming, “Oh my God! My book!!!!!” . New York is a magical place where people will get involved to keep you from dying so a couple of people on the platform calmed me down and convinced me to go tell the station agent.
The face of apathy herself, the station agent told me it would be a couple of hours before anyone could come get it. I stood on the platform, alternately playing Brickbreaker and watching train after train run over my book.
The MTA workers who came to my rescue showed up about twenty minutes later. One, a tall, silken-voiced black man, like a chunky version of Shaft; the other a short, bearded ginger, like Danny Bonaduce with a beard, these men meant business. Bearded Bonaduce kept lookout while chunky Shaft jumped down and grabbed my book. The whole process took about 67 seconds and I am sure was orchestrated with care and constant communication with the subway conductor. It was also incredibly brave and generous of them to do it.
As Chunky Shaft emerged from the tracks and handed me my barely singed book, I sank to the ground a second time (never say I don’t know how to extract every drop of drama from a stressful situation), surrounded by pages, and covered in mascara and sweat. I thanked him several times from my spot of tile. Chunky Shaft shrugged off my thanks, saying it was all part of the job. Then he called me a beautiful woman. Then he asked me out.
I wish this was the story of how I became Mrs. Panda-Chunky Shaft, but this is not a love story. It is a story of hysterics and bravery. I wish even more that this was the story of how I landed my first national commercial, but this is not a success story. I made it to that audition, where they never noticed I was late.
I never heard from any of them again, but I learned my lesson. Never take something important out next to the subway tracks.