Updated: Dec 3, 2020
I had pretty much decided not to write a post about my former employers' brutal handling of my termination. After all, there are millions of americans with similiar stories of betrayal by their respective employers. Why should mine be any different? Also, in CA, paying artists Jack shit is all the rage (I used to get paid as low as $100 a month for a full time job because of the whole non profit loophole; that's just how they roll in the highly sophisticated arts world). So, I figured I would let bygones be bygones and move on from there. That was until about 4:00am this morning when I grogily rolled out of bed to see an email from my company telling me that I would now be able to view the statement for my health benefit. "Oh goodie," I thought, "now I can look at all the money I cant have!"
Over about two years of working with this particular company, and no, its not Disney, even though it operates exactly the same way and is based in California as well (MERLIN!!!), I had accumulated a rather impressive $2770 for health costs. I earned this benefit. It was not given to me outright. I consistently worked tripple shifts, which meant filling in for actors who were too "sick" to come to work. The triple was essentially three shows condensed into one. The company was desperate to save money after a manager told the company she had fudged the numbers to get raises for herself. She was let go, but never reimbursed the company. I guess I should have done the same thing. But I, stupidly, was honest, showed up on time and performed wonderful shows, instantly boosting the company's ratings to levels they had never seen before, saving the company by giving them something to actually market. I must have generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in income for them. That benefit was earned; it was not given to me.
I could have used it for anything. This was a European style health benefit which meant I could use it for everything from dietary needs, bandages, tissues and even supplements which are usually not covered by basic health insurance. That was great news for me because I consume MCT oil, a proven epilepsy teatment that's mostly used in the UK, with every meal. The MCT diet blocks the electrical discharges that cause seizures, especially when combined with medication. So, had I recieved the benefit I could have gotten my mct oil for free for about two years. Quite the savings considering it runs $30 a pop and is becoming more expensive as science unfurls the manifold benefits. So I saved it for when I really needed it. I did everything I was supposed to do. I was honest. I worked hard and I was responsible... None of that mattered of course.
My company called me on a sunny July afternoon to let me know that they did not care if I lived or died. They informed me that I would be terminated at least till next year, another lie. There's no way they will rehire me. I'm not that stupid. I tried repeatedly to obtain full time status with them and they denied me, even though I had done the work. They made their choice. Though I inquired about the money they owed me in April, and my employer expressly promised to unlock the account so I could access it, the company has failed to give me anything aside from a pittance of $320, not even the same as my regular check; the only reason they even gave me that was because mayor London breed forced them to. I had the wool pulled over my eyes by big entertainment once more.
Usually I wouldnt be so upset. I dont get mad when kids on the street try to sell me costco candy bars to help with "school" or when scam artists sell blank cds because they're an "up and coming rap star". Low level hustlers like these are easy to spot and, for the most part, they target tourists who they know have a lot of money. You will rarely find a street hustler in a poor neighborhood. Low level hustlers are really just individualistic entrepeneurs without business licences, the american dream personified. They are like Robin Hood, literally robbing the rich and giving to the poor. There's not much of a downside there.
Then there are the big time scam artists; you may know them as corporations, partnerships, LLCs or non-profits, but its all the same scam. They whisper sweet nothings in your ear about health insurance, raises and bonuses, all whille beating you with a whip and telling you to get back to work. They say they will get around to making all those beautiful things come true as soon as they have the money, but it never comes. There's always some excuse: we didn't get enough guests, marketing screwed up, a ride broke down we had to fix, blah, blah, blah... You're told to go home and suffer with your few hundred dollars, and to show up to work bright and happy next year, if that's possible.
These scam artists are really great at putting the customer first, which leaves the employee a distant third after the well being of the company as a whole of course. This is especially the case if you're part time because you're not a real person after all. You're just their to clean up after the real full time actors who call out constantly, and consistently put on subpar shows that are poorly rated. But we must take care of white actors because they have been so put upon. They cant even wear blackface anymore, so they deserve the benefits and the fulltime check.
You see, California entertainment corporations mean well. There's just not enough to go around for everyone. Black and brown artists have struggled for centuries, but white artists have grown accustomed to being treated like royalty. Black and brown artists were once not even allowed to perform on the same california stages as the great white actors always have; so black and brown people should be happy knowing that they one day may dance next to a white person on stage. Thank god for Hamilton! It would be downright rude for us to rock the boat, so lets just let the minority artists drown once and for all this time. That way, the glory days of judy garland wearing black face and John wayne committing a genocide on natives can reign supreme once more! Yay hollywood! Brava Broadway! Youre both so progressive that you don't even see color anymore. How could you? You don't allow colored people in the audience by overpricing your art, and you have now decided black and brown artists are no longer allowed on your payrolls. Finally, a change I can believe in.
So go ahead and keep the money. I know it's difficult for all you wonderful california white establishment artists. You have to look outside your fancy high rises and see peasants shooting up aderol while they wallow in the filth you created, and then ignored, by expecting gig workers to make due with a few bucks an hour in the most expensive state in the world. But I'm sure things will all get back to normal soon. Full time actors hate real work, and without part timers showing up to pick up their slack all these mighty businesses will crumble and fail.
It's alright though. You dont need part timers or full timers to put on shows. All you have to do is head down to Costco and buy some candy bars and blank CDs. Then california entertainment companies will finally have what they always wanted: to make oodles of money while helping no one but themselves. Yeah, I guess good old walt disney's magical kingdom finally did come true, complete with segregation and heartless corporate goons of course. Ah, a whole new magical world for them, not you.