A Warm Reception
It finally happened. The day I have been dreading since I started this whack-crazed project I call The Receptionist. Tucked away in a tiny office somewhere in Hollywood, I have been making construction paper short films on and off for almost three years now. In that time I am occasionally (very rarely) recognized in public. For the few times this has happened it has always been very pleasant and I have enjoyed the attention. It’s a good feeling to see people who enjoy your work face to face. No longer are they simply screen names with kind words, but are flesh and blood and excited to see you. So yeah, that’s a nice feeling. Then it all went wrong.
It was Monday, June 1st. I was sitting at work behind my desk, as I always do, waiting patiently for the phone to ring (thus is my job as a receptionist). Suddenly, a young man enters the front doors and asks me if there is a restroom on this floor. I give him the information he requires, directing him to the other side of the courtyard where the throne of man resides. He thanks me and is about to leave when suddenly he stops. He takes a good long look at me and then says, “You’re The Receptionist.” Time froze. I was not prepared for this and for a moment I forgot where I was and who I was. “Yes.” I said, not knowing what else to say. He proceeded to tell me that he was turned on to my videos by a friend of his and that he saw me making out with a bull made of paper…so he definitely had the right guy. After that, he asked if he could take my picture using his camera phone. I agreed and smiled. SNAP! The picture was taken, but I was still caught in the bizarre headlights of surprise. We chatted for a few minutes about my work and what he did (he was a production assistant for a very popular show and was dropping something off to one of the upstairs offices). He was very nice. Cool guy and all. So why was this an issue for me?
After he had gone I thought about the experience. The reason I felt so awkward during the entire exchange was not because he had recognized me, but instead where he had recognized me. I was at work. Behind my desk. my RECEPTION desk! I’ve never made it a secret that I am actually a receptionist. The whole origins of my web series stems from being a receptionist. My gimmick has always been that I make the videos at work, during business hours. I have always taken a small amount of pride in this. I developed a small fan base for the show and answered questions about my work…but then, one day, someone finds me in my habitat! A pair of eyes spies me working not as a happy-go-lucky, paper adventure man, but as an honest to god, “please hold while I transfer your call”, receptionist. A job that I have had for far to long. Suddenly I felt the way I dread feeling…like a receptionist. Like a trained monkey who answers other peoples phone calls for a living. At that moment it didn’t matter that I had made three feature films or a number of web shows. What the hell did I have to show for all my hard work and creativity? I had a phone and a desk. I had a bi-weekly paycheck that barely covered my bills. I had bags under my eyes and a hat to hide my unwashed hair. And so the exchange, for me, was different than the others. It was more honest. Less rock star. It was sobering.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not throwing a pity party for myself. I am very happy with the movies I have made. I love the Receptionist series. I am thankful for the success I have had in my creative career. All I am expressing is a strange moment I had when I was recognized for my art at my day job. It was a surreal exchange for me, an hopefully a kick in the ass to get out from behind this damn desk.
Grahm (Gram?), if you ever read this, I’d love to see that picture. I bet it’s hilarious.
Visit The Receptionist here.
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