A while ago my phone rang and well, when my phone rings I think, do I really want to answer this. My decision would be biased free since I don’t have call display to discriminate with. It is just that I find answering the phone, any phone, is sometimes a bit of a chore but I thought optimistically that perhaps I could handle it. The lady on the other line asked for Thomasina Pidgeon, while I thought do I say yes to this question? They are using my last name and that could be serious. Also, if I say yes, I likely would have to be on the phone for longer. If I say no, well, then my chance of getting brain cancer from cell phone use is significantly shorter as is having to talk about the weather. Logic over fantasy prevailed and I confirmed to her that yes, the one who answered the phone was the one she was looking for.
She replied in an excited voice, ‘oh great! It was so hard to track you down. I had to find you through the internet and blah blah blah…’ My attention managed to stay focused long enough to realize this wasn’t student loans or any of those kinds of calls which are preferred avoided. Rather, this woman was calling for different reasons. She asked me if I remembered climbing in a commercial for a Texas hospital 3 years ago and immediately images of me at the audition, pretending to climb and then me stumbling and losing my balance in front of the camera flashed through my head. I thought to myself, oh god, how could anyone forget that experience.
Despite my stumble, I managed to get the part. The filming took part on a cold dreary day and I found myself in a proper dressing room trailer face to face with a real make-up artist while shivering wearing just a tank top and pants tight enough for god knows what. I had to climb wet crack and wet slab which can be challenging enough but first I had to warm up by wrestling the hardest sport route in Canada, while wearing a full rack (“ for realistic purposes”). The director decided dream catcher should be in part of my climbing adventure because of its “artistic beauty and the angles of walls”. I explained to her that dream catcher was really, really hard and had been done by only one person (at the time) and realistically, I may not do to well. She didn’t seem to mind and replied with “well, as long as you can do just a few moves” then we’ll have enough footage. Fair enough; I was her monkey for the day.
The big bonus came a few days later when I got to fly in a helicopter for their first time. I found myself climbing a never done crack that had very sparse gear along the way which meant the trad rack I had attached to me actually served its purpose. The adventure finally ended when they awkwardly landed the helicopter on the very small tip of the mountain that I had obviously ‘conquered’. The helicopter and cameraman then circled above me while I was left to take in the beautiful view of Squamish which I had never seen. And for another bonus, I got paid to climb!
Back to the phone call, it turns out the hospital was wanting to re-run the commercial and she was wondering if it would be ok with me while not failing to mention “but of course Thomasina, the hospital will pay you only half of what you made doing the commercial. You are allowed to bargain but I think it’s a good deal. Does that sound fine with you?” I paused and thought, really, is this for real? Someone wants to give me money and I am actually allowed to bargain? It seemed unreal. I had just got back from my winter road trip and was broke and looking for work. Finally, I realized it wasn’t a prank and after a short pause I replied, that yes indeed the offer seemed fair and here’s my address.
Lesson learned: answering the phone can sometimes be a good thing.
Here is one of the drafts of the commercial: