Ages ago, I was a stage manager for a student production. Now, when I’m running a show I can be quite demanding. Sometimes rude.
There was this girl who was my assistant. She always missed some mundane detail even though I kept pointing them out, she would still miss them.
One day I exploded on her. Told her everything she had been doing wrong in front of everyone. She stormed out, I said, “let her go” and finished getting ready for the show. She returned before the show started and helped get things ready.
After the show was over, we were cleaning up before meeting everyone at Waffle House to wind down.
As stage managers, it’s our job to clean up the place as everyone is leaving and to usher the actors out or they will talk to one another forever.
In the middle of cleaning up, she fell to her knees and started crying. I went to her, held her and asked what was wrong.
She told me that she “could never do anything right”, her parents have always looked down on her because her brother is so “smart and successful while I’m barely making passing grades.” She told me how she is a lesbian afraid to tell her parents because it “would only make things worse” and how she would “never be anybody” and how “nobody likes me.” She also told me that she had been dealing with this all day and my outburst was the last straw.
I apologized, still holding her, and told her that the reason I was so hard on her is that I knew she can do it. Because I knew this, it was hard for me to accept her mistakes. I reminded her that I was the one that chose her to be my assistant. No one else had a hand in that decision. If I didn’t think she was capable, I would have found someone else. So, just her being here meant at least one person had confidence in her.
One of the actors came in to check on us. I waved her off and she went to join the group.
I talked to this girl for maybe an hour. She told me how she wanted to be an actress but was too afraid to be on stage. How she had no friends here.
How she had thought of taking her own life.
I wasn’t having any of it. I can’t even remember everything I said to her, but I was not going to let her leave that room until I knew she was going to be safe.
After a while she said she was fine and thanked me. We hugged some more and then she said she was going home. I told her, “no you’re not, you’re coming with us.”
She said, “No it’s ok. Those people don’t like me anyway.”
“How do you know that?” I asked. “Has any one of them said anything mean to you or insulted you in any way?”
“No”, she replied.
“Then what’s the problem?” I asked.
“I just don’t feel like part of the group.” She said.
I smiled at her and said, “then let’s change that, but first we have to vacuum.”
We finished cleaning up and when we made it to the Waffle House, as soon as we walked in, everyone in our group cheered her name. Her smile in that moment was precious, I’ll never forget it.
Now, it may have been the actor I waved off that told them she was upset and encouraged them to cheer for her, but what this girl didn’t know was that when she didn’t show, people asked about her already. Either way, it was exactly what she needed at the very time she needed it.
It wasn’t long till she branched off from the safety of being near me to hanging out with other groups and we all put money in the juke box and danced around the restaurant.
It was a good night.
Now, I haven’t seen her in ages, but when I had my old FB account with her as a friend I saw some amazing things.
She conquered her fear of the stage, came out as a lesbian, and recently she popped up as a suggested friend on my new account. She looks so happy with her girlfriend in her profile picture and I noticed something else. She is now an acting teacher working with kids at a school in another state. And if you’re into that sort of thing, she has about 1200 friends on Facebook.
The moral of this whole thing?
Charlie, don’t be so hard on people.
Everyone, if you see someone in need, please help them. A moment of kindness can reach generations.
– Charlize <3
Cover image credit: Unknown