Wednesday, March 13, 2013

If You Give A Mouse A Cookie

A sunny morning in Southern California finds me enjoying a lovely breakfast burrito (wait, scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes, cheese, ham chunks, and a dash of salsa to open my eyes, and I can WALK AROUND WITH IT? I'm THERE!), and visiting with two of the local constables sitting on their motors, as my crew is going about on Day Twenty-Two of our little excursion into screen production, in yet another nice neighborhood location.

It's sunny, the birds are singing, we aren't blowing anything up, so other than supplying sunscreen, and the occasional Tums or Tylenol for minor maladies in lieu of the sufferer having to visit the local pharmacy, I should be able to enjoy a rather pleasant working day. If we use the term "working" rather loosely where I'm concerned.

And then, to disturb the karmic joy of it all, a battered little riceburner pickup, loaded with suitable lawnmowers, leafblowers, and various other well-worn accoutrements for lawn and yard care pulls up right in the middle of the planned next shot, and its occupants exit and begin to unload various gas-powered implements of disturbance, and fire same up to begin trimming the lawn.

Obviously, when you're trying to do dialogue shots, this a problem for the soundtrack, so in short order, the constables and I observe the locations manager sprinting at full speed for his years towards the operators of said machinery, with one hand already reaching for his wallet. No doubt, with a view towards suggesting to...let's call them Hose A and Hose B...that perhaps for $50 they might consider doing their next day's stops today, and returning here tomorrow, with this small token of our esteem to compensate them for the inconvenience. Usually, it works like a charm, which is why it's the standard operating procedure.

Unfortunately for the two Hoses, whatever one thinks of police officers, they in general, and motor officers in particular, tend to have a recollection like elephants when it suits them.

Which is why Officer Joe turned to Officer Steve, and observed, "Hey, isn't that the same p.o.s. pickup that pulled up on that shoot we covered last week on the other side of town?"

Whereupon Officer Steve, like myself enjoying the wonders of a movable feast that is the well-constructed breakfast burrito, lowered his gaze over his de rigeur mirrored sunglasses to the offending vehicle and allowed that yes, it did in fact look awfully familiar.

And then Officers Joe and Steve strolled over to where Hose A and Hose B were just about to the point in the conversation where they would receive the photograph of President Grant, embossed in finely etched detail upon the official notepaper of the Federal Reserve.

"Just a moment there, Mr. Location Manager, we seem to recall meeting the Hoses here. Weren't you, in fact, the same gentlemen that got paid to not mow a lawn over in Calabasas yesterweek? And in fact, come to think of it, weren't you also paid not to mow lawns on a shoot last month in Brentwood? As a matter of fact, isn't 60 miles across town quite a wide swath of territory for two operators of such a...humble...vehicle as you now possess? You guys must be mowing every lawn in the city!"

After a moment's pause, and a mutual shrug, Hose B spilled the beans. No, they really didn't mow lawns hereabouts. And yes, that was probably them in Brentwood, and Calabasas, and so on.

Cue the sound of Location manager's wallet slamming shut, followed by the sound of his heels clacking in the distance.

Turns out the Hoses were, at some point in the murky past, actual landscape gardeners, and pretty diligent ones at that. And then, one fortuitous day, another location manager on another show had given them $50 to beat it, at a house they were actually supposed to maintain. So they did, in fact rearrange their personal weekly schedule, split the $50, with neither their clients nor their boss any the wiser. And then, as it usually does, greed weaseled into their mercenary little hearts. Because yet another time, on yet another day, another location manager on another show slipped them another $50 for the same consideration.

Realizing they had somehow stumbled onto the lost City of Gold, these two geniuses concocted a fabulous plan. Instead of sweating all day actually mowing lawns and shovelling sh..., er rose fertilizer, Hose A and Hose B decided the path to wealth beyond the dreams of mortal men could be theirs, by simply driving around, finding the herd of white semi-trailers, RV trailers, orange cones, yellow signs, and general confusion that signified the Official Hollywoodland Circus And Travelling Freakshow was in town. And then, driving into the middle of the confusion, firing up the mowers and weedblowers, and waiting for the nice but harried gentleman nearby to rush over, introduce himself, and slip them another $50 to go away.

Which is exactly what they proceeded to do.

Filming all over town was booming then, and in short order, they'd rack up 5 or 6 different shows, easily doubling what they were making by actually working, and call it a day. And they'd set out again the next day and repeat the whole process. They'd been doing it for...well, they'd been doing it for so long, they didn't want to say just how long. But clearly, this wasn't their first effort.

The only fly in their buttermilk turned out to be the elephantine recollection of two motor cops, and the fact that the number of retired and off-duty guys who do that work hovers around at less than 100, most of the time. So the law of averages finally closed the long overdue trap firmly around their hindquarters.

Pleased at this rather rapid coming to Jesus behavior, Officers Joe and Steve took pity upon the Hoses.

"So here's the deal guys. We have your names, and your license plate. We're putting out notice with our boss, and the location managers' jungle telegraph, and if either of you two show up looking for a handout in this city again in your lifetimes, we'll see that you get well and properly prosecuted for fraud, extortion, public nuisance, immigration violations, no business license, and a broken rear taillight. And THEN we'll get medieval on you. Because we have 8000 friends who all write traffic tickets for a living. Comprende, amigos?"

And then profuse and heartfelt thankings were exchanged, for as long as it took Hose A and Hose B to load up their mowers, get in their truck, and quickly and lawfully exit the area.

I hope they got their old jobs back without too much trouble.

But given their obvious talents and how this town works, they're probably working for a major film or recording studio as producers.

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