This story took place during the summer of my high school graduation. I was in the living room, looking for wisdom in old magazines when my old hammer-proof phone started ringing. The wooden table was vibrating along with it.
“Hello! Who is it?”
“H! I am calling on behalf of advertising agency CreativeSolutions. We have your name in our database, and I would like to know if you are interested to participate in a commercial?”
In the past, the same guys had offered me to join a naked crowd at a football game for 150 dollars. In some countries, pigs on TV get paid more than that to show their sex appeal. In the end, I was only a part of the “clothes on” group and got paid 50 bucks for 2 days. Not bad considering that I got to see a horde of naked people running wild. Never forget.
“What is it this time,” I said.
“It’s a commercial of an energy drink. You will be one of the fans at a concert of a rock group. After drinking the energy juice, you will start running after the bus,” said the woman.
“Yes. That’s it.”
I assumed that the project was going to take just a few hours since she was calling me so late.
“Easy money”, I thought.
“I’ll be there,” I replied while thinking about what I will buy with my new 20 dollars.
Young and stupid.
The first part of the commercial took place in an indoor playground. I was indeed a part of the crowd at a rock concert. We were standing and jumping like idiots. I was surrounded by tons of young “street” people trying to earn some pocket money, just like me. Apparently, they all knew each other and were moving in groups. I felt like a lone wolf. It’s hard to be accepted in a group when you don’t know anybody.
We did some decent cardio for about an hour before our first 10-minute break. I decided to sit on the rock stage, but the muscular guard made me a sign to move away.
“Fragile boy! Move it,” he said. I “moved it”.
In this world, muscle size always equals protection, although we all know how that fight turned out for Rich Piano. Big guys don’t last long in a battle, but the intimidation factor is where it’s at. This guard had it. The dark glasses, the “don’t mess with me” crossed arms pose, the trivial arm tattoo and of course the gun on his belt were part of the classic bad boy image. Good luck achieving the same intimidation effect with Bruce Lee’s physique. Can you recall an ecto superhero? Exactly.
A few hours of jumping and screaming followed. By the end, we were exhausted, but 20 bucks for 4 hours still seemed like a decent deal.
Eventually, they made us leave the sports hall. I was happy that it was over. All planned actions had taken place – the concert, the screaming. We even ran a dozen of times after the stupid bus.
Wrong! The fun was just beginning.
It was already midnight when a few buses arrived at the scene. It turned out that the directors wanted us running after that same stupid rock bus at other locations of the town. The public buses were there to transport us.
The filming crew gave us a tea, a Cola and some repackaged food that even the dogs on the street question.
Easy money? Oh, brother.
The first stop was a monument located at the center of the town. This is when I understood the whole plan – they wanted the city sleeping so that they can do whatever they want.
A lot of running, screaming and eating of mummified GMO chicken took place. The people around me were loving it because half of them were drunk while the rest were couples making out. What was I supposed to do? Be happy that I am getting catabolic?
Among the others, there were individuals who were apparently living on beer, chewing gum, cigarettes and ketchup samples, and yet some were bigger than me because they weren’t ectomorphs.
Most, but not all, were too stupid to realize that we were exploited. The directors were talking in a foreign language, and apparently, the company was outsourcing. I hated those guys. It was five in the morning, and yet I was still running and screaming the name of a made up rock group/energy drink.
The final filming took place close to a newly opened mall. We had to do a few more runs. Everything was set – the cameras, the filming crew, the crowd. We were ready to race.
“Start,” said the director.
In the middle of the run, my knee began hurting badly, and I decided to stop and go back. Big mistake! This move ruined the scene, and the whole group ran in vain. The clip had to be filmed once more.
“Why did you fuck everybody up,” said someone.
I turned around and saw a young guy. He was tanned, shaved and had some muscle on him – a mannequin.
He and a few spoiled girls represented the higher echelon. Their faces were actually going to be seen on TV. That’s why the motherfucker was talking to me like that.
“My leg hurts. I am tired.”
“You are a bitch,” said the shaved mannequin.
Ironically, he and the other two princesses had arrived late to the party, and yet I knew that those suckers were getting paid 10 times more because somebody had decided that their faces were pretty.
“I ain’t breaking my knee for a few bucks and a Cola,” I replied.
“How much are you getting paid?”
The trio started laughing.
“How much are you getting paid,” I asked.
“3k for a few days worth of work,” said the mannequin and tried to make me feel like a beggar.
“I can do what you do,” I replied.
“No, you can’t. Look at yourself, skinny Quasimodo bitch,” said one of the girls. She had that Pocahontas look to her which I appreciated greatly, but her “24/7 in the beauty salon character” was a deal-breaker for me.
The mannequin started laughing while looking at his big arms.
We got paid 30-40 minutes before sunrise. I got my money and went to a corner to count them while drinking my Cola because living healthy was obviously not a thing for me that night.
There I saw a guy that I knew. He was a skater – one of the best in town. In general, he didn’t like talking to me, but I guess this time he wanted to be polite. I had great respect for his skills. He was a role model when it came down to the sport.
After drinking half of it, the motherfucker produced the biggest burp in history. The air was taken captive by a disgusting smell that came out of his mouth. He wanted me to get the fuck out. This was his way of saying it.
“Disgusting, and to think that I had respect for this guy,” I thought.
This part was added to the “never think other people are that special” chapter of my life journey.
There was no public transportation, and I decided to walk for about 20 minutes. My knee was hurting, but I needed time to restart my head after this epic all-nighter.
While I was walking, I saw something that I really didn’t want to see – an escort 100 meters up the street. It was obvious even from a space shuttle that the guy was a transgender. Unfortunately, his location was a part of my path.
“Hey, little boy. Are you looking for fun,” said this member of a new sex.
I didn’t reply and immediately turned left. After a few steps, I realized that I had to turn right unless I wanted to end up on a dead end street. Therefore, I had to pass really close to him once again.
“Are you a psycho? Don’t you know what you want, little boy,” asked the guy.
I just wanted to go home and erase all commercials in the universe.
At one point, I got a little lost. My eyes were in bad shape. They were super sore… as if I’d played in front of the PC all night. I wish this was the case.
Then, I asked a cab driver – “How can I get to the main street?”
The cab driver stared at me and smiled. His facial expression was clear – he thought that my head had turned upside down after meeting an escort. I am not joking.
“It’s a few blocks away. Get in the cab, and I will take you there. It’s free,” he said with the creepiest voice ever. I knew what he wanted – explicit details of my recent past. I left as fast as I could.
Finally, I got to the main street. The sun was already taking over. I was tired and stopped at a local 24h pizza. I had an hour of traveling in front of me and needed to reload. I sat at a table in the corner and started thinking how crazy the night had been. A waiter with enormous biceps came to take my order.
“Just an orange juice, thank you.”
“Something to eat?”
“Are you sure?”
“There’s your problem. Bulk up, skinny boy.”
Many years later, I can say without a doubt that he was wrong.
A lack of experience rather than muscle was my problem.