You Can't Win if You Don't Play

"Wow, something happened here, didn't it?" She asked, more of a statement, really an acknowledgement that I looked like hell. And, I did.

Only a few minutes before, I'd been in a good place. The show had finally hit a stride. The days, though still long and demanding, had become predictable. Until this week it had been ten blue bolts, two biblical plagues and at least one unfolding movie-maker nightmare each day. Nothing was going right. Balls, once confidently juggled, had fallen to the floor so that I could see which ones most resembled eggs and which fine china. I'd been exhausted, at wit's end, and for the first time in my career, I spent more than a fleeting minute wondering if I was really cut out for the job. Three weeks into photography, though, the dust devils petered out and a rhythm had finally established itself.

Finished with my work in a paltry thirteen hours, I took to the hotel gym for some long-ignored exercise. I was twenty minutes into what I had planned as a ninety minute session on the recumbent bicycle. The hills were set at maximum, my pulse had finally broken 140 and a glistening torque of perspiration encircled my neckline when I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned and found my late-shift office counterpart standing behind me. I extracted my headphones and he said those three tiny that every man in my job fears to hear. "FedEx didn't come."

Shit. This is bad, very bad. This is the kind of terrible that I would express as a DefCon level if I could ever remember whether higher or lower was worse for DefCon kind of stuff. It was seven fifty-seven in the evening. The latest FedEx dropoff in this are was at eight-fifteen and it was twenty minutes away by car. Moreover, one of the packages was a first overnight for an Oscar-winning makeup artist who was attached to our lead actor, and for whom we'd already fucked up one major cross country shipment. It's Friday and I'm the only one who hasn't left town that knows the route.

Without a word, I dash out of the hotel gym and sprint the seven flights of stairs to my room to get my keys. I run back down the six flights of stairs to the lobby. On the last flight, I slip on ten years' accumulated slime and put my head into the un-finished cinder block wall, scraping my face and shoulder. Bleeding only slightly, I run to the parking deck, where I find my distressed colleague putting the last of the packages in my car (he knows I never lock my doors.) I crank up the engine, tailgate out beneath the retracting arm and veer into traffic. I probably average ninety miles an hour down the highway to the airport FedEx dispatch.

My car fishtails as I swerve into the lot and I screech to a halt just in front of the entrance. I arrive two minutes late but before they lock the doors. Panting, drenched in sweat, swaddled in dirty workout clothes, reeking of burnt rubber and bleeding from the face, I hand the stack of envelopes and packages to the fairy-tale monster of a woman behind the counter.

 "Wow, something happened here, didn't it?"  she says, not really expecting an answer.

 "Yes," I said, "Victory."

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