This story took place in 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 be a statist in a commercial?”
Last time those guys called they offered me to be part of a naked crowd at a football game for 100 dollars. In some countries pigs on TV get paid more than that to show their sex appeal. At the end, I was only part of the “clothes on” group and got paid 50 bucks for 2 days. Nod 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 though.
“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 at an indoor volleyball playground. I was indeed part of a crowd at a rock concert, and we were standing there jumping like idiots. I was surrounded by tons of young street people who were looking 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 get away from the scene.
“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 much 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 factor with Bruce Lee’s physique. Can you recall an ecto superhero?
A few hours of jumping and screaming followed. By the end we were exhausted, but 20 bucks for 4 hours still seemed like a lot. Finally, they made us move out of the sports hall. I was happy it was over. All planned actions had taken place – the concert, the screaming and we even ran a dozen of times after the stupid bus.
Wrong! The fun was just beginning.
It was already midnight and a couple of buses usually used for public transportation arrived at the scene. It turned out they wanted us running after that same stupid rock bus at other locations of the town, and those 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 in order to do whatever they want.
A lot of 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 they were bigger than me because they weren’t ectomorphs. At the time I was stupid as hell, and instead of being happy that I am healthy I was focusing on stuff like that. You are always stressing over the things you don’t have.
Most, but not all, were too stupid to realize that we were getting 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 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 after the bus. Everything was set – the cameras, the filming crew. We were ready to race. “Start,” said the director. In the middle my knee started 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 who was tanned, shaved and had some muscle on him – a mannequin.
He and a few spoiled girls were part of the higher echelon. Their faces were actually going to be seen on TV. That’s why the motherfucker was talking to me like this.
“My leg hurts. I am tired.”
“You are a bitch,” said the shaved mannequin whose daddy was something. Ironically, he and the other two princesses arrived late to the party, and yet I knew those suckers were getting paid 10 times more, because somebody had decided that there 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 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 tried to be polite. I had great respect for his skills. He was a role model when it came down to the sport.
After he drank 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 and 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 live journey.
There was still 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 was 100 meters up the street. It was obvious even from a space shuttle that the guy was a transgender. Unfortunately, this was the shortest way and part of my path.
“Hey, little boy. Are you looking for fun,” said this member of a new sex.
I didn’t say anything and immediately turned left. After a few steps I realized I had to turn right or otherwise I was going into a garbage can. Therefore, I had to pass really close to him once again.
“Are you a psycho? Don’t you know what you want, little boy,” wondered the guy.
I just wanted to go home and never ever be part of a commercial.
At one point I got a little lost. My eyes were in bad shape as if I have played in front of the PC all night. I wish this was the case.
Then, I asked a cab driver where the hell I was: “How can I get to the main street?”
The cab driver starred at me and smiled. Why? Because he thought my head was upside down after meeting with an escort. Serious.
“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 that infamous main street. It was already day outside, and the sun was taking over. I was tired and stopped at a local 24h pizza to reload. 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 this night was. 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. Nothing but lack of experience was my problem.