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PingWi-Fi Challenged With Success In New Dirty Gig Role

November 25th, 2011 · Tags:Satire · Uncategorized

The Dirty Gig is about to get a little less dirty.

You may or may not know that this travel blog is funded by a second job in disaster recovery, affectionately referred to as the Dirty Gig. Accordingly, in this blog there have been detailed exploits involving 3 a.m. toilet disasters … flooded hospital basements … people who sniff smoky boxes … German laborers … and perhaps my favorite, the case of the mistaken fetus.

Did You Say Fetus?

It’s been great fun … but my employer is shifting gears a bit. Moving forward, I will be working to help track inventory, equipment, consumables, labor and such on job sites. Somehow, I never fancied myself a barcode scanner … but one should never sell themselves short. J/K! I think it is going to be great.

Meanwhile, the new gig required me to travel to Philadelphia for training. And better yet, there was a break in the training to shoot some video for the company’s internal use.

COOL! “After 2.5 years on the Dirty Gig, I am finally going to use some of the communications skills from a lifetime in the profession,” I said to myself … which I sometimes have a tendency to do.

But surprisingly (to me anyway), and because the company has quite exceptional communications professionals of its own in place, I was pretty much just another extra on the set for the first day and a half.

I mean, there was one scene where my role was to walk over behind the speaking characters and point to a notepad on another person’s desk, say something undetected by the microphone, thank the person profusely, and then fade back into the background. HA! Afterward the director joked with me — telling me it was some of the best background walking he had ever had the good fortune to shoot. (He pullin my chain, right?)

But on the second day, my big chance for corporate video stardom arrived.  A chance to show the company my corporate communications skills … I thought. I was up to the challenge. I drank some hot tea to get the pipes working. I slipped into the men’s room to tie back the gnarly, non-corporate, Wavy Gravy-esque hair. I was ready. “I can do this!”

My role was to play the part of a seasoned resources/logistics person, working in a command center of a disaster recovery company, as the team quickly prepared to mobilize for a huge disaster. In the scene, a veteran disaster professional walked through the command center — a mobile unit totally decked out with all kinds of high-tech equipment, and several other professionals at task — checking the status of several key items.

She checked on mobilizing a labor force. She inquired about diesel deliveries for massive generators. She made sure that air travel and hotel arrangements were complete for hundreds of people.  Important stuff!

Then, my BIG MOMENT …

She turned to me. “Kent, what is the status of the dumpsters and the porta-a-potties?” Ha … good thing I wasn’t drinking a soft drink. I might have spewed it out my nose as I tried not to laugh.

Pity, we were not making a funny outtakes video …

Ha … I got tickled and totally stunk up the scene. It got worse (as the puns will as well) …

“Well, we have deployed 200 dumpsters, and I am working on the port-a-loos. I think we will need 400.”


What exactly is a port-a-loo? (Oops, port-a-loo is what they called port-a-johns on my Dirty Gig in New Zealand …) I learned lots of new words on that job … “munted” (don’t say that in public, in NZ) … “schlomper” (don’t say that in public in Germany) … and port-a-loo … (don’t say that with the cameras rolling for an American company video.)

I digress …

“Crap!,” I exclaimed, realizing I had totally blown the scene. Ha … I got tickled again. The best way I can explain how uncomfortable this was … Have you seen the TV commercial for GasX, where the receptionist tells the flatulent guy that he has a phone call on “line toot”? It was like that … only worse. I think the theater term is farce …


“Kent. what is the status on the dumpsters and the port-a-johns? Have you had any success?”

OMG! … an old friend in my younger days often had trouble with the daily bathroom necessities, so when she was able to do her bi’ness, she would say she had “success.” (See how this was a problem for me … the budding thespian?)

“Have you had any success?”

“Frankly, I think that is a bit personal,” I thought to myself. (If I did, that would add new meaning to the phrase “I totally bombed on the set,” now wouldn’t it?) … “Your lines seem a little forced,” I imagined the director coaching … haha … my mind went on so many rabbit trails.
I was biting my lip trying not to lose it — my composure … not the other. No one else in the command center knew the double meaning of success that was causing really unpleasant visuals in my mind, as I tried to push out my simple lines.

They thought I was just dramatically challenged. Perhaps they were right.

We had to go again. This time, at the director’s suggestion, we changed up the scene a little. Rather than leaving on a positive note, we were instructed to interject some conflict … a new detail that we needed to work on.

Ha! I totally misunderstood. I thought we would pick up the scene after I said we needed to find more facilities.

But, we were taking it from the top. (That’s show biz talk … as Jethro would explain … I digress)

The supervisor nailed her lines, “What is the status of the dumpsters and the port-a-johns? Have you had any success?”

Now there you go again, I thought. Ha! I did NOT see that coming. I froze. The camera was focused tight on me. I stared her in the eyes for several seconds, totally clueless and with no apparent wave activity in my brain and said absolutely nothing, with the old “deer-in-the-headlights” stare.

Please, someone yell “Cut!,” I prayed. The camera continued to roll …

I think the director and everyone in the room was so shocked that I blew such an easy line … not to mention no one knew the internal turmoil I was wrestling over the word “success” … that about a minute went by … camera still on me as I swallowed my Adam’s apple.

Finally … “Let’s try that again.”

I explained to everyone that the other actor asked me question #1 and I had been expecting question #2. Oh … poor choice of words.

Finally, we got through the scene to the relief of the group who had been waiting for me to …. or get off the pot, figuratively speaking.

In retrospect, everyone thought it was pretty funny … and the director, a good sport, joked that it was some of the best bathroom dialogue ever delivered. He referred to me as the “Drama King of the Crapper.”

I added that I was a method actor.


Know what I sayin?