Construction Literary Magazine

Fall 2020

Comb Needed on Set

Comb Needed on Set

Photograph via Flickr by Furryscaly

Editor’s note: Once a week, Laura Morton will use personal history to put a Craigslist ad into perspective.

The Story

The only thing consistent from one film project to the next is inconsistency. You can’t predict what will happen on any day, but you can predict that, on a film set, everything you do will become the most important, stressful thing you’ve ever done.

A few years ago, I worked on a commercial as a general production assistant. Late one evening, during pre-production, after driving around the city dropping off laundry for the producer, picking up lunch for the director and first A.D., and countless other exciting duties, I had ten minutes before reaching my twelve-hour mark. I thought my day was coming to an end, when the Unit Production Manager sent me on a great assignment: to purchase a “wide-tooth” comb for the aforementioned producer.

This seemed simple enough, especially since the hotel that housed the production office had a little shop off the lobby, which, indeed, carried hair products.

I walked the maze through the hotel and found the gift shop. It had a “fine-tooth” comb and a brush. Clearly, “fine-tooth” and “wide-tooth” are two different types of combs, but I thought that the Unit Production Manager might say, “You know what? The brush will work for now, and if you could get me a comb tomorrow . . .”

I went to the counter with both and asked the cashier if the gift shop allowed returns. She said, “The brush is $5.81 and the comb is $2.11.”

“Yes,” I said, “but can I return them?”

She stared at the items. “You’re returning these?”

“No, I want to buy them now, but will probably have to return at least one, but maybe both.”

“But if I gave you money back, my drawer will be short,” she said, stressed.

“Okay . . . okay, I need to buy these to show someone down the hall, and if she doesn’t want them, I’ll need to return them . . .”

“She’s down the hall?”

“Yes. Down the hall.” I didn’t feel like explaining why someone couldn’t come down the hall herself, or why I was on assignment to find a comb.

“I’d have to call a manager if you wanted to do anything with my drawer.”

“Would it be easier if I just brought these down the hall and brought them back?” Okay, this seems naïve, but one, I really wanted to simplify the situation, and two, sometimes trusting someone is just an easy solution.

“I can’t let you take them without paying for them.”

“No, I’m not—can I buy these and then get my money back later?”

“I guess—“

I made the purchase and brought the comb and the brush to the producer. I held them in front of her. She looked up from her dinner and pointed to each item. “No, that’s a ‘fine-tooth’ comb and that’s a brush.”

I explained they didn’t carry the specific comb she wanted, but that I purchased what they had.

This explanation was met with a blank stare.

My job was finished.

I returned to the gift shop. The girl working was disgusted. Before I even got close to the counter, she turned, walked away, and came back with a manager. Luckily, he allowed returns without issue.

At 9:20, I retrieved my car from the hotel parking garage and headed to Walgreens. I found the exact comb requested and drove back to the hotel. I carried it into the room and handed it to the producer, who gave me a thumb’s up sign and said, “Pink?” Yes, I got her a pink comb. She didn’t like it, but she took it.

After a fourteen hour day, I was home.

The Ad

birmingham, AL craigslist > for sale / wanted > clothing & accessories – by owner

Bridal Comb/bridal hair accessory – $50 (Birmingham, AL )

Gold bridal comb bought from June’s Bridal (Hoover, AL). Swarovski crystals and pearls. Retail price $125.00. SERIOUS INQUIRES ONLY! xxx-xxx-xxxx

The Response

I wonder: if I’d returned from my quest with this sparkly comb, would the producer have accepted my offer?