I just had a major revelation rise out of a $43 cup of Starbucks. Story:
I'm in Vegas this week, doing an Industrial show (or what we like to call Business Theater) for just a couple of days. We've been staying at the MGM Grand, and our show, for Country Financial, was an interesting little presentation on a huge conference center stage, woven through some long speeches being given by the top brass of this company. The greatest piece of Art? Absolutely not. But it's been a terrific gig. We've been paid well, got housed in a beautiful hotel in a fairly warm climate (while the East Coast was getting pounded by a huge snowstorm), got fed like Kings and Queens, and I even got to the gaming tables - and it looks like I'm actually going to leave Vegas 'up' about 100 bucks. Happy days!
So yesterday morning just before I checked out, I went downstairs for a $43 cup of Starbucks. Well the Starbucks cost $8 - (8 dollars for a cup of Starbucks drip and a scone! YIKES!), so where the other $35 come from? As I was stirring in some milk, I noticed that on the gaming floor not 10 steps away there was a five dollar Blackjack table with a nice, welcoming looking dealer standing behind it. I sat, and I was the only one at the table – you can do this when it's 7 AM on a Wednesday, even in Vegas.
When you play Blackjack and it's just you and the dealer, it can be really fun. You can really play the game, and if your dealer is personable, you can strike up a conversation that can ramble nearly anywhere. My dealer's name was Audrey. And as she was casually hammering me with a very unfriendly shoe, the questions began: "What do you do for a living?" "I'm an Actor.". Usually, Actor gets some kind of reaction, but she barely blinked. Because this is Vegas, and she gets every kind of everything at her table. For a moment, I mused that in a certain way, she's a priest, and this is her confessional - but then I thought, no that's not right; she's a zookeeper, slinging cards and jokes at whatever kind of animal runs, flies or crawls by. "Could you break this for me please? " "Well I'm not strong enough to break it, but I'll definitely give you change." Bah-DUM-bum.
She dealt me a 20 and then proceeded to deal herself 21 the hard way, and as my head sagged and she reached for my chips, another casual question: "What's your favorite thing you've ever done?"
Now as a person who makes their living as a Professional Actor I've easily been asked this question a thousand times. I usually have some kind of stock answer for it, and so I began my usual "Well, that's a really hard question, but..."
And I realized that in that silly little industrial show, I had just as much fun in the moment, in the doing of it, in the performing of it, as I've ever had in any show I've ever done. Anywhere.
So who cares? Why does this matter? PROCESS. That's why. It is all about the doing of a thing, not where you are doing it. (As long as you're getting paid, of course - I mean I am a professional and all.) I've been on Broadway, on television, in film, I run my own series, and even in a conference venue at 7AM, I was having a fantastic time with fantastic people.
Perhaps getting hammered at Blackjack is a method for making that clear. (This is not a method that I would advise participating in frequently - but it is quite effective.) Thus: Are you enjoying what you're doing at the moment? If not, then you should probably find something else to do. Me, im going to keep finding every opportunity I can... just to be in the show. Wherever it is. As long as it's paying.
Thank you Audrey. You took my money... but in the end, I owe you.